Sophia's Peace Work

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Al-Qashla and Al-Shwaka - 29 September

Today we took the Quffa down to the center of Baghdad at the old traditional boat crossing between Al-Qashla (Turkish for "fortress" on the Rasafa or east side of the river) and Al-Shwaka (literally 'forks' or 'thorns', on the Khark or west side of the river).  I haven't been to this place since 2004 but it really the center of old Baghdad.  The ancient Mustansiriya Madrasa is on the river on the Al-Qashla side.  Built in 1227 it is literally one of the oldest centers of learning in the world.  Nearby are the Saray Souq, the Baghdadi Museum, Mutanabbi Street (famous for its booksellers), the Abbasid Palace and Caliph's Street.

The actual Qishla was built by the Ottomans in 1855 as a headquarters for their troops and the tower there contains one of the oldest architectural clocks in the world.  As we pushed off the Quffa into the rather stinky waters of the Tigris (there is some sewage outfall upstream), I jumped into another boat and started water quality sampling (check HERE if you want to see our sampling results so far).  I had to be quick about it because our time was limited and so I did not get to really sit back and enjoy this historic occasion while our Quffa, probably for the first time in over 50 years, was once again plying the waters of the Tigris between Al-Qashla and Al-Shwaka.

Here are some pictures of the day:

 Walking towards the river through old Baghdad

Typical electrical wiring in Baghdad

Arriving at the waterfront

The Qashla (and clock tower) 

Hussain, a young boy on the waterfront who kept telling me this his father was dead

Getting a bit of grub before setting off (James, Abu Haider and Rashad)

One of the old houses along the waterfront

Abu Haider and Rashad setting off in the Quffa

The Guffa afloat

The Baghdad Rowing Club

Rashad being interviewed

Hassan, a team member, in a very interesting chair

Fishing nets drying ... hard to believe that people fish in such a polluted river ...

Harder still to believe that kids are swimming in it ...

Garbage was everywhere ... floating in the river, on the river banks, and the sewage smell here was quite strong.  This is a large, public hospital on Al-Qashla side just upstream of this photo where there is a sewage outfall. 

Going home after our float


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