Close to this stands the so-called tomb of Sitte Zobeide (Zobaida), with its octagonal base and pineapple dome, one of the most conspicuous and curious objects in the neighbourhood of Bagdad. Unfortunately it is rapidly falling into decay. K. Niebuhr reports that in his day (A.D. 1750) this tomb bore an inscription setting forth that Ayesha Khanum, the wife of the governor of Bagdad, was buried here in 1488, her grave having been made in the ancient sepulchre of the lady Zobeide (Zobaida), granddaughter of Caliph Mansur and wife of Harun al-Rashid, who died in A.D. 831. The tomb was restored at the time of her burial, at which date it was already ancient, and it was evidently believed to be the tomb of Zobeide. Contemporary historians, however, state that Zobeide was actually buried in Kazemain, and moreover, early writers, who describe the neighbouring tomb and shrine of Ma‛ruf Karkhi, make no reference to this monument.
About 3 m. west of Bagdad, on the Euphrates road, in or by a grove of trees, stands the shrine and tomb of Nabi Yusha or Kohen Yusha, a place of monthly pilgrimage to the Jews, who believe it to be the place of sepulture of Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest at the close of the exilian period. This is one of four similar Jewish shrines in Irak; the others being the tomb of Ezra on the Shatt el-Arab near Korna, the tomb of Ezekiel in the village of Kefil near Kufa, and the well of Daniel near Hillah. This shrine is also venerated by Moslems, who call it the tomb of Yusuf (Joseph). The Jews bury here their chief priests, a right the Moslems at times contest, and in 1889 a serious conflict between Jews and Moslems resulted from an attempt of the former to exercise this right.
There are said to be about thirty khans or caravanserais in Bagdad for the reception of pilgrims and merchants and their goods, none of which is of any importance as a building, with the single exception of the khan el-Aurtmeh adjoining the Marjanieh mosque, to which it formerly belonged. This dates from A.D. 1356, and is said to occupy the site of an ancient Christian church. Its vaulted roof is a fine specimen of Saracenic brickwork. In recent years the demands of modern travel have led to the establishment of a hotel, which affords comfortable accommodation according to European methods. There is also an English club-house. There are said to be about fifty baths in Bagdad, but in general they are inferior in construction and accommodation. The bazaars of Bagdad are extensive and well stocked, and while not so fine in construction as those of some other Eastern cities, they are more interesting in their contents and industries, because Bagdad has on the whole been less affected by foreign innovations. Several of the bazaars are vaulted over with brickwork, but the greater number are merely covered with flat beams which support roofs of dried leaves or branches of trees and grass.
The streets of the entire business section of the city are roofed over in this manner, and in the summer months the shelter from the sun is very grateful, but in the winter these streets are extremely trying to the foreign visitor, owing to their darkness and their damp and chilly atmosphere.
Bagdad is about 500 m. from the Persian Gulf, following the course of the river. It maintains steam communication with Basra, its port, which is situated on the Shatt el-Arab, somewhat more than 50 m. from the Persian Gulf, by means of two lines of steamers, one English and one Turkish. British steamers were first placed upon the Tigris as a result of the expedition of Colonel F. R. Chesney, in 1836. Since that time, a British gunboat has been stationed before the residency, and British steamers have been allowed to navigate the river. Only two of these, however, maintain a weekly connexion with Basra, and they are quite inadequate to the freight traffic between the two cities. The more numerous vessels of the Turkish service are so small, so inadequately equipped and so poorly handled, that they are used for either passenger or freight transport only by those who cannot secure the services of the British steamers. The navigation of the Tigris during the greater party of its course from Bagdad to Korna is slow and uncertain. The river, running through an absolutely flat country, composed entirely of alluvial soil, is apt to change its channel. In flood time the country at places becomes a huge lake, through which it is extremely difficult to find the channel.
In the dry season, the autumn and winter, on the other hand, there is danger of grounding on the constantly shifting flats and shoals. To add to the uncertainties of navigation, the inhabitants along the eastern bank of the stream frequently dig new canals for irrigation purposes, which both reduces the water of the river and tends to make it shift its channel. Above Bagdad there are no steamers on the Tigris, but sailing vessels of 30 tons and more navigate the river to Samarra and beyond. The characteristic craft for local service in the immediate environment of Bagdad is the kufa, a circular boat of basket-work covered with bitumen, often of a size sufficient to carry five or six horses and a dozen men. These boats have been employed from the remotest antiquity through all this region, and are often depicted on the old Assyrian monuments. Equally ancient are the rafts called kellek, constructed of inflated goat-skins, covered with a framework of wood, often supporting a small house for passengers, which descend the Tigris from above Diarbekr. The wood of these rafts is sold in Bagdad, and constitutes, in fact, the chief supply of wood in that city.
Bagdad also lies on a natural line of communication between Persia and the west, the ancient caravan route from Khorasan debouching from the mountains at this point, while another natural caravan route led up the Euphrates to Syria and the Mediterranean and still another up the Tigris to Armenia and the Black Sea. It was its situation at the centre of the lines of communication between India and Persia and the west, both by land and water, which gave the city its great importance in early times. With the change of the methods of transportation its importance has naturally declined. The trade of Persia with the west now passes either through the ports of the Persian Gulf or northward over Trebizond, while India communicates with the west directly through the Suez Canal. Bagdad is, therefore, a decayed city. Money is scarce among all classes, and the wages of common labourers are scarcely half what is paid in Syria. It is still, however, the centre of distribution for a very large, if scantily populated, country, and it also derives much profit from pilgrims, lying as it does on the route which Shi‛ite pilgrims from Persia must take on their way to the sacred cities.