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Baghdad Hospital

The Persian word for hospital is bismaristan, meaning ‘place for sick people’. During the Islamic period, one of the most famous bismaristans was located in Baghdad. Commenced in 979, it was built on the banks of the River Tigris. The site was selected as the district in the city where meat took longest to decompose - it was thought that the location must be clean and therefore hinder the spread of diseases. The hospital took three years to build and served the most important, populated section of Baghdad. It was constructed on the site of the former Khuld Palace. Made up of a number of halls and rooms, it had every comfort of a royal palace. Its water came from the Tigris and the food from the king’s own stores.

The most important Baghdad hospital was the ‘Adudi', named after a local ruler, it was established in 982. It was reported to have 25 doctors, including oculists, surgeons, and bone-setters.


M W Dols, ‘The origins of the Islamic Hospital: myths and reality’, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 61 (1987), pp 367-390