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Revive the Spirit of Mosul

Project name :

Revive the Spirit of Mosul

Cultural Life

Mosul’s extraordinary history is written into the fabric of the Old City. Many of its mosques, shrines and Muslim burial sites date back to the 12th century, when Mosul was renowned for its exquisite metalwork, miniature paintings and silk carpets. Numerous churches and monasteries attest to its vitality as a Christian centre of worship and learning since at least the 4th century AD. To this day, the city and its region are imbued with the great diversity of their populations, home to Arab communities as well as to Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmens, Kurds, Yezidis, Shabaks, Sabean Mandaeans and others. Diversity is central to the identity of Mosul, and this spirit deserves to be promoted across all of Iraq.


Revitalizing Mosul's cultural and intellectual life by rehabilitating libraries with the conservation of ancient manuscripts and reopening museums and other spaces of expression, creation and dialogue.UNESCO is actively fundraising to revive the city’s cultural institutions attacked by the extremists.

UNESCO is actively fundraising for the following thematic areas: 

  • Labor intensive programmes for the inhabitants of Mosul and notably youth in urban and architectural reconstruction/restoration projects, including through the reinforcement of capacities and job creation in the areas of reconstruction, education and culture, through:
  • Creation of public-private partnerships for educational and cultural purposes;
  • Development of TVET guidance tools focused on the acquisition of skills that enhance employability and harmonious coexistence;
  • Support to entrepreneurship, particularly among youth and women;
  • Rehabilitation and revival of cultural institutions (i.e. Mosul museum, libraries) and public urban spaces, including for artistic expression, cultural creation and social interaction;
  • Identify needs and undertake actions for the revitalization of living heritage through community-based inventorying, and
  • Address academic isolation and lack of resources (libraries), including through new technologies and ICTs, to establish universities as hubs for innovation and creativity.

Al-Nouri Mosque and Al-Hadba minaret

The Great Al-Nouri Mosque was originally built in the late 12th century and is famous around the world for its iconic leaning minaret, al-Hadba, meaning ‘the hunchback’. The cylindrical minaret stood 45 metres high, with seven bands of decorative brickwork in complex geometric patterns sharing similarities with other monuments across Central Asia. It was a prominent landmark of the Old City of Mosul, and the emblem of the city, until it was destroyed in 2017. View of the minaret before destruction.

The Dominican Church, popularly known as Al-Sa’a Church (Church of the Clock)

Al-Sa’a (meaning ‘the clock’) Church had an associated school from which many Moslawis (inhabitants of Mosul) graduated, regardless of their faith. Anyone coming from Nineveh or Al-Farouq streets would see Al-Hadba minaret and the clock tower of Al-Sa’a Church sharing the Mosul skyline.

The market

The market at Bab Al-Saray in Mosul, where the traders of spices from India and China have been active for over a thousand years. It is also where the book sellers in Al-Nujaifi Street embody a commerce of goods and ideas dating from time immemorial. View of the market in 2018.

Mosul University’s Central library

The Central Library was established in 1921 and housed an estimated 1 million books on topics such as science, literature, philosophy, law and culture, in addition to historical maps, Ottoman-era manuscripts and Iraqi newspapers. The library started flourishing in 1967 when 60 of the city’s largest private libraries donated their historic collections. It soon became Mosul’s research center with an average of 1,500 daily visits by students.

Of the library’s nearly 1 million resources, which included 30,000 periodicals, 7,000 reference books, and a Quran dating back to the ninth century, fewer than 50,000 items have survived the war.