Iraq’s Royal Cemetery, The Graveyard of Kings - 12.10.2007

Video - Baghdad/Adhamiya, Iraq - In Adhamiya there is a famous place known as the Royal Cemetery. Each of the kings of Iraq’s short-lived monarchy, Faisal, Ghazi, and Faisal the 2nd are buried here. Under the Ottoman Empire, this place was selected to be the location for an Islamic College in Baghdad. With the upheaval of World War I and the eventual collapse of the Ottoman Empire, construction was never completed.

King Faisal I, the first king of Iraq, completed its construction years later, but after his death, it was chosen to be his burial place. From this point on, it was chosen as the burial place for the Iraqi Hashemites. Faisal I’s wife, Huzaima Bint Nasir, as well as his son Ghazi, and his grandson Faisal II are each buried here.

With the overthrow of the monarchy in 1958, the cemetery languished in disrepair and was all but forgotten. In 1987, Saddam Hussein, in an effort to renew interest in Iraq’s monarchy, remodeled the Cemetery, improving its stark appearance. His efforts brought the Royal Cemetery to the beautiful monument that stands today.

After the fall of Saddam’s government, in 2003, Shari Ali, the heir-apparent to Iraq’s monarchy, made his first appearance in Iraq at the cemetery, beginning an effort to re-assert the importance of the monarchy. This effort was short-lived.

United States Military, and Coalition troops entered the Royal Cemetery shortly after the fall of Baghdad, and the marble stone covering Faisal I’s tomb was damaged while they were searching for weapons stockpiled by insurgents in the area. Although the monarchy seems to have finally been cast aside in favor of Modernity, it remains to be seen whether this symbol of Iraq’s past will hold any lasting influence upon its future.

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