Sometimes, in the months of June, July and August, when the sherki or south wind is blowing, the thermometer at break of day is known to stand at 112° F., while at noon it rises to 119° and a little before two o'clock to 122°, standing at sunset at 114°, but this scale of temperature is exceptional. Ordinarily during the summer months the thermometer averages from about 75° at sunrise to 107° at the hottest time of the day. Owing to the extreme dryness of the atmosphere and the fact that there is always a breeze, usually from the N.W., this heat is felt much less than a greatly lower temperature in a more humid atmosphere. Moreover, the nights are almost invariably cool.
Formerly Bagdad was intersected by innumerable canals and aqueducts which carried the water of both the Euphrates and the Tigris through the streets and into the houses. To-day these have all vanished, with the exception of one aqueduct which still conveys the water of the Tigris to the shrine of Abd al-Qadir (ul-Kadir). The present population draws its water directly from the Tigris, and it is distributed through the city in goat-skins carried on the backs of men and asses. There is, of course, no sewerage system, the surfaces of the streets serving that purpose, and what garbage and refuse is not consumed by the dog scavengers washes down into the Tigris at the same place from which the water for drinking is drawn. As a consequence of these insanitary conditions the death-rate is very high, and in case of epidemics the mortality is enormous. At such times a large part of the population leaves the city and encamps in the desert northward.
The principal public buildings of the city, such as they are, lie in the eastern section along the river bank. To the north, just within the old wall line, stands the citadel, surrounded by a high wall, with a lofty clock-tower which commands an excellent view. To the south of this, also on the Tigris, is the serai or palace of the Turkish governor, distinguished rather for extent than grandeur. It is comparatively modern, built at different periods, a large and confused structure without proportion, beauty or strength. Somewhat farther southward, just below the pontoon bridge, stands the custom house, which occupies the site and is built out of the material of the medreseh or college of Mostansir (A.D. 1233). Of the original building of the caliph Mostansir all that remains is a minaret and a small portion of the outer walls. Farther down are the imposing buildings of the British residency. The German consulate also is on the river-front. As in all Mahommedan cities, the mosques are conspicuous objects. Of these very few are old. The Marjanieh mosque, not far from the minaret of Mostansir, although its body is modern, has some remains of old and very rich arabesque work on its surface, dating from the 14th century.
The door is formed by a lofty arch of the pointed form guarded on both sides with red bands exquisitely sculptured and having numerous inscriptions. The mosque of Khaseki, supposed to have been an old Christian church, is chiefly distinguished for its prayer niche, which, instead of being a simple recess, is crowned by a Roman arch, with square pedestals, spirally fluted shafts and a rich capital of flowers, with a fine fan or shell-top in the Roman style. The building in its present form bears the date of A.D. 1682, but the sculptures which it contains belong probably to the time of the caliphate. The minaret of Suk el-Ghazl, in the south-eastern part of the city, dates from the 13th century. The other mosques, of which there are about thirty within the walls, excluding the chapels and places of prayer, are all of recent erection. Most of them are surmounted by bright-coloured cupolas and minarets. The Mosque of the Vizier, on the eastern side of the Tigris, near the pontoon bridge, has a fine dome and a lofty minaret, and the Great Mosque in the square of el Meidan, in the neighbourhood of the serai, is also a noble building.
The other mosques do not merit any particular attention, and in general it may be said that Bagdad architecture is neither distinctive nor imposing. Such attractions as the buildings possess are due rather to the richly coloured tiles with which many of them are adorned, or to inscriptions, like the Kufic inscription, dated A.D. 944, on the ruined tekke of the Bektash dervishes in western Bagdad. More important than the mosques proper are the tomb mosques. Of these, the most important and most imposing is that of Kazemain, in the northern suburb of the western city. Here are buried the seventh and ninth of the successors of Ali, recognized by Shi‛as, namely Musa Ibn Ja‛far el-Kazim, and his grandson, Mahommed Ibn Ali el-Jawad. In its present form this mosque dates from the 19th century. The two great domes above the tombs, the four lofty minarets and part of the facade of this shrine, are overlaid with gold, and from whatever direction the traveler approaches Bagdad, its glittering domes and minarets are the first objects which meet his eye.
It is one of the four great shrines of the Shi‛ite Moslems in the vilayet of Bagdad. Christians are not allowed to enter its precincts, and the population of the Kazemain quarter is so fanatical that it is difficult and even dangerous to approach it.
In the suburb of Muazzam, on the western side of the river, is the tomb of Abū Ḥanifa (q.v.), the canon lawyer. There is a large mosque with a painted dome connected with this tomb, which is an object of veneration to the Sunni Moslems, but it seems cheap and unworthy in comparison with the magnificent shrine of Kazemain. On the same side of the river, lower down, is the shrine of Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (of Jilan), founder of the Qādirite (Kadaria) sect of dervishes, also a noted place of pilgrimage. The original tomb was erected about A.D. 1253, but the present fine dome above the grave is later by at least two or three centuries. The possessor or controller of this wealthy mosque is the nakib, locally pronounced najeeb, or marshal of the nobles, whose office is to determine who are Se‛ids, i.e. entitled to wear the green turban. He is second only to the governor or vali pasha in power, and indeed his influence is often greater than that of the official ruler of the vilayet. Just outside of the wall of the western city lies the tomb and shrine of Ma‛ruf Karkhi, dating from A.D. 1215, which also is a place of pilgrimage.