The History of Baghdad’s Thousand-Year-Old Book Market; Al-Mutanabbi Street

Al-Mutanabbi Street is the historic center of Baghdad bookselling that dates back to the time of the Abbasids. Located near the old quarter of Baghdad, Al-Mutanabbi Street was Baghdad’s first book traders’ market, and due to its infinite supply of books, it served as a contemporary witness to the never-ending political and cultural changes that took place in Mesopotamia over the years.

You can find at Al-Mutanabbi Street hundreds of bookstores and outdoor bookstalls, cafes, stationery shops, and even tea and tobacco shops. It has been and still is the heart and soul of Baghdad’s intellectual community that will never change.

The winding street of booksellers and readers witnessed a tragic incident back in 2007. It was a car bomb explosion that killed more than 30 people and left 100 more severely wounded. The implications of the attack affected the publishing world and its writers, booksellers, and readers. It was an attack on Iraq’s literature community and cultural institution. But those who try to erase thought will never succeed.

WE SAID THIS: Al-Mutanabbi Street will forever hold a special place in my heart and a large part of my childhood.