The House of Wisdom, also known as the Grand Library of Baghdad, refers to either a major Abbasid public academy and intellectual center in Baghdad or to a large private library belonging to the Abbasid Caliphs during the Islamic Golden Age.
The House of Wisdom is the subject of an active dispute over its functions and existence as a formal academy, an issue complicated by a lack of physical evidence following the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate and a reliance on corroboration of literary sources to construct a narrative.
The House of Wisdom was founded either as a library for the collections of the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in the late 8th century (then later turned into a public academy during the reign of Al-Ma’mun) or was a private collection created by Al-Mansur (reign 754–775) to house rare books and collections of poetry in both Arabic and Persian.
The House of Wisdom and its contents were destroyed in the Siege of Baghdad in 1258, leaving very little in the way of archaeological evidence for the House of Wisdom, such that most knowledge about it is derived from the works of contemporary scholars of the era such as Al-Tabari and Ibn al-Nadim. Since there is a lack of physical evidence there are many scholars that question the existence of the House of Wisdom.