Ctesiphon is now a part of suburban Baghdad, but it does have a long history....

It lies on the left bank of the Tigris, about 32 km away from central Baghdad at the mouth of the Diyala river, opposite Seleucia. It was founded in the second century B.C. by Parthian Persians and after about 129 B.C. was used as the winter palace by the ruling kings. In 226 A.D. it was captured by Arasdhir I and became the capital city of the Sassanid Empire.

In 116 the Romans under Emperor Trajan captured the town. This was to become part of a pattern, in the second and third centuries A.D. the Romans attacked and took the city five times. In 166 Emperor Verus practically destroyed Selucia and Ctesiphon, and celebrated the great victory with Marcus Aurelius in Rome. Severus plundered Ctesiphon after a siege in 198 AD, slaying "a vast number of people, besides taking a hundred thousand captives". In 283 Emperor Carus took the city without a fight after threatening his armies "would render their country as bare of trees as the emperor's own bald head!". They didn't have it all their own way, in 363 after failing to capture the city, Julian the Apostate was killed in the rearguard action.

In 637 Arabs plundered it under Khalid ibn Walid, (once one of the prophet Mohammad's chosen companion-in-arms) after defeating the last Sassanid king, Yezdigird III. His armies took everything of value and the main palace was converted into a mosque. They also renamed the town 'al Madain'; when the Abbasids made Baghdad the capital it's place in history was largely over, and it was abandoned.

Today little is left standing of the original town, the Arch of Ctesiphon is the only major piece of architecture left, and that was damaged when the Tigris flooded in 1987. It is thought to be the largest single span arch in the world, and probably formed part of a vast banqueting hall in the palace.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.