Syria / Cities and Towns /
Other spellings: Ar-Raqqa; Rakka
City in north-central Syria with 220,000 inhabitants (2005 estimate), on the Euphrates River. It is the capital of Raqqa province.
Over recent decades, the development and extraction of oil from nearby fields have become the main economic activities of Raqqa. The construction of the Tabaqah Dam has also been important, now allowing increased output from the agriculture. Raqqa is the main trade and administrative centre for this.
Raqqa is connected to other urban centres by road and a winding railway. Aleppo is 200 km west, Homs 300 km southwest, Qamishli 270 km northeast and Deir ez-Zawr 130 km southeast.
Of Raqqa's glorious past, little remains. Much is gone, and much is in ruins. The least destroyed buildings is the 9th century Palace of the Maidens (was used as a private residence), and the 8th century Great Mosque.
Modern Raqqa sits on the same site as the ancient Greek city of Nicephorium.
244 or 242 BCE: Founded by King Seleucus 2, and called Callinicus.
Early 1st millennium CE: Callinicus is fortified under the Byzantine rulers, and becomes an important business centre.
639 or 640: Callinicus surrenders to Muslim Arab army. The Arabs soon renames it to Raqqa.
772: Abbasid caliph al-Mansur starts constructing a summer capital at Rafika, next to Raqqa. Rafika was given the shape of a horseshoe, a symbol of Abbasid power. Rafika would become assimilated with Raqqa.
796: Harun ar-Rashid makes Raqqa his capital, and funds the development of scientific activities.
808: The status of capital is returned to Baghdad.
1258: Destroyed by ravaging Mongols.
1968: The Tabaqah Dam is started to be constructed, resulting in growth for Raqqa.