When Baghdad opened its gates as the new capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, the prime site in the city was occupied by the royal library. Both the city and the library, completed around 765, were built by Caliph al-Mansur, who devised a method for measuring the circumference of the Earth and was second in a long line of Abbasid caliphs who valued thought and learning above all else. The Abbasids created, shaped and developed one of the most rich and fertile periods of science in human history.
The library was officially called "the House of Wisdom". It was a monumental structure, accommodating translators, copyists, scholars, scientists, librarians and the swelling volumes of Persian, Sanskrit and Greek texts that flooded into Baghdad. Not surprisingly, it became a magnet for seekers of knowledge from across the Muslim empire.