Samarra is a town in northern Iraq, situated on the eastern bank of the Tigris River about 145 km north of Baghdad. From AD 836 to 892, Samarra was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, growing from a small market town into a large city about 60 square km in area. Today the town remains a regional market center. Samarra's most famous landmark is the Great Mosque of Samarra, a massive spiraling minaret built by the Abbasids in 847. Many other Abbasid ruins remain largely intact, and continue to provide a wealth of knowledge about early Islamic culture. But Samarra is perhaps most famous for its appearance in the famous 10th century Sufi didactic tale, “Appointment in Samarra,” whose title, in turn, was borrowed by John O’Hara in his classic 1934 novel about the last three days in the life of a suicide.