Iraqi authorities have contracted a Czech firm to carry out a 10-month restoration of the ancient Arch of Ctesiphon as part of a plan to boost tourism to the once-popular site.
Through the decades of conflict that have wrecked Iraq, the famed 6th century monument, which is the world’s largest brick-built arch and the last structure still standing from the ancient Persian imperial capital Ctesiphon, has fallen into disrepair. It lies south of Baghdad, just a short distance from the tomb of Salman Pak, one of the companions of the Prophet Mohammed. Together, the two sites form what was once one of Iraq’s main tourist attractions in the town of Madain. The town was suspected of housing a biological weapons reasearch facility under the regime of dictator Saddam Hussein and, after his 2003 ouster and subsequent execution, it became an Al-Qaeda stronghold.
Efforts to revive its reputation as a tourism hub have proceeded in fits and starts. Now, Czech company Everis has been brought in to restore the arch, also known as Taq-i Kisra from its Persian name, in a first step to revive the town’s economy.
“We began our work here a short while ago, carrying out studies on the site,” said the firm’s Iraq manager Imad Abu Aqlam, adding that surveys are expected to be completed next month.
“The restoration process requires about 10 months – that includes securing the bases of the site, treating the damp, and supporting Taq-i Kisra to ensure that no parts fall off it in the future.”
Construction of the Arch began in 540 AD during the Persian Sassanid dynasty’s long wars with the Byzantine Empire. It formed part of a palace complex started three centuries earlier and, at 37 metres (122 feet) tall and 48 metres (158 feet) long, is the largest brick-built arch in the world.
source: Gulf News