Saddam Hussein’s abandoned palaces
During his nearly 24-year stay in power, Saddam Hussein built dozens of palaces (between 80 and 100 according to different accounts) across Iraq. Palaces were built -most of them after the end of the 1991 Gulf War- in every major city as an expression of his authority. These palaces provided housing not only to the dictator of Iraq and his family, but also to his party officials, friends and countless mistresses. U.N. documents list eight main Saddam Hussein palace compounds containing more than 1,000 buildings — luxury mansions, smaller guest villas, office complexes, warehouses and garages — and covering some 32 square kilometres (12 square miles) in total.
The grandiose architecture and the luxurious environment, dominated by marble surfaces and gold was supposed to support the image of a powerful leader for his followers and that of an eccentric dictator who was out of touch with the reality of his citizens for the rest of the world.
After the Fall of Baghdad in 2003, some palaces were occupied by the American army, while others were heavily looted by Iraqi citizens. By now, all of them have been handed over to the Iraqi government. Some of them will be maintained, others repurposed, sold to developers or demolished.