We’ve all heard about the excesses of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but not many people get to actually see them. Luckily enough, I went to Iraq in 2011 and captured all the (now ruined) glory for our viewing pleasure — including the view from inside one of his palaces.
This palace was located on the hill just outside of Babylon, overlooking the famous historical city, which Saddam razed. [Fun fact: He was in the middle of excavating it, but then decided the excavations were taking too long, so he razed 90 percent of the city to the ground to build a facsimile, to the horror of historians everywhere. The “new” Babylon was so poorly done, it started to crumble several years later]. Saddam spent millions on this marble palace, outfitting it with intricately carved doors, crystal chandeliers, and gold toilets. And despite all the glitz and glamour, he was said to have spent only one night in the joint.
Today, most of the trappings — which were stripped by locals after Saddam was overthrown — are gone, replaced by graffiti, barbed wire, and (oddly enough) a basketball hoop.
Related: When NOT to Visit a Country
Due to the civil war, the palace is unlikely to be visited again anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean we still don’t like to ogle. Below: another video of inside the palace.