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(sämär`rä), town, N central Iraq, on the Tigris River. It is on the site of an ancient settlement and has given its name to a type of Neolithic pottery of the 5th millennium B.C. The present town was founded (836) by the AbbasidAbbasid
or Abbaside
, Arab family descended from Abbas, the uncle of Muhammad. The Abbasids held the caliphate from 749 to 1258, but they were recognized neither in Spain nor (after 787) W of Egypt.
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 caliphs. Samarra's 17th-century Askariya mosque complex, sacred to Shiite Muslims as the burial site of the 10th and 11th imams and the site of the disappearance of the 12th ("hidden") imam, was severely damaged by terrorist bombings in 2006–7 but was subsequently rebuilt. There are notable ruins of many palaces, mosques, and other buildings, including the 9th-century great mosque with its spiral minaret. The town was the scene of fierce fighting between Sunni insurgents and U.S. occupation forces in 2004.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a city in Iraq, on the left bank of the Tigris, in Baghdad Muhafaza (Province). Population, approximately 20,000. Industry is represented by pharmaceutical and cement-production enterprises.

Samarra was founded in 836 on the site of an ancient settlement and became the residence of the Abbasids. After the caliph al-Mutamid (870–892) removed the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate back to Baghdad, Samarra fell into decline.

The German archaeologist E. Herzfeld studied the ruins of the old city from 1911 to 1913. He discovered rectilinearly planned grandiose palaces with gardens and mosques, mausoleums, and dwellings made of fired brick and, more rarely, of adobe. The ruins of the core of the city are located on the left bank of the Tigris; they include the palace of Gausaq, which has a facade with three iwans. South of the palace are the remains of the Great Mosque of Mutawaqqil (846–852), which has a rectangular walled-in courtyard, and the spiraling al-Malwiya minaret.

Farther south in Samarra are the ruins of the square-shaped palace of Balquwara (854–859), built with three large courtyards along its main axis. To the north are the palace of Mutawaqqil and the mosque of Abu Dulaf (860–861) and the octagonal domed mausoleum Qubbat al-Sulaybiyya. Both representational and nonrepresentational murals were also discovered, as well as mosaics, carved stucco, and lustrous and under-glazed fine painted pottery.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Medical sources said Samarra hospital received the bodies of 14 Shiite militia fighters and policemen.
They seized control of the municipality building and university, raising the black flag associated with jihadist groups over both buildings, and reportedly occupied Samarra's two largest mosques police told the Reuters news agency.
At least 16 policemen and eight civilians were wounded in the fray, including the deputy head of the city council, Ammar Ahmed, and a second council member, said Doctor Omar al-Obeidi at the Samarra hospital, Agence France Presse reported.
The name Samarra has two similar meanings translating from Arabic, one being: "a joy for all to see"; the other from the former name of the city Surra Man R'a'a: "he who sees it is delighted." From 836-892 C.E.
The Minaret of Samarra, also known as the Malwiya, after the Arabic word for a snail shell, spirals up from the ground and dominates its Samarra setting in the Tigris valley.
SAMARRA: Five years ago, a blast tore through Iraq's golden-domed Shia Askari shrine in the mainly Sunni city of Samarra, helping ignite two years of sectarian strife that drove Iraq to the brink of civil war.
The toll from a suicide bombing that targeted Shiite pilgrims near the city of Samarra, one of Iraq's worst in recent weeks, rose to 48 dead and 80 wounded, police and officials said on Sunday, Reuters reported.
In this first monograph on Samarra to be published in the past fifty years.
22, 2006, attack on al-Askariya Shrine in Samarra', one of the Shi'ites' most sacred sites, shattered this ancient mosque, ripping a hole in its once glorious dome.
Samarra, north of Baghdad, was founded in 836 as a royal capital and military for the Abbasid field army by the caliph al-Mu'tasim.
Ali was one of the Neo-Salafi terrorists who bombed the Shi'ite shrine of Samarra' on Feb.
Police believed people may be buried under the debris after the blast at the Askariya mosque in Samarra.