Travelling to Iraq

Travelling to Iraq

Today, when the word Iraq crosses your mind you probably picture an active war zone. It’s probably highly linked in your mind with war, Afghanistan, Terrorism, Saddam Hussein and endless planes of sand. The truth is if you dig a little bit deeper, you will find one of the most beautiful and wonderful countries in the world. Iraq is rich with culture and there is endless history there to satisfy your every curiosity.

Where is this country? Iraq is a landlocked country in the Middle East, in between six different countries: Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.

What is the capital? Baghdad.

What’s the population? 27,500,000 (at time of publication of this article)

What languages do they speak there?Arabic, Kurdish

When should I go? The best time to visit is between September and November. The weather is not as hot as summer, but winter hasn’t set in yet.

Is it expensive? No, it is one of the cheapest countries to visit in the world.

At the moment Iraq is a very active war zone, and travelling there will include risks such as kidnapping, violence and murder. At the moment you cannot get a tourism visa for Iraq; so travelling is difficult. I write this article not to get you to find another way into Iraq, but to understand that it is a great country to visit. Unfortunately due to war a lot of its riches are being destroyed; so when their borders open up for tourism, try to see what you can.

A Bhagdadi Monument
A Bhagdadi Monument

Baghdad

Baghdad, the capital of Iraq is also the largest city in Iraq with a population of over seven million people. Founded in the 8th century, the city became a significant cultural and commercial centre for the Islamic World. The city grew to be the largest city in the Middle East, and was heavily destroyed by the Mongol Empire in 1258. The city was commissioned for construction in 762. There is over 1300 years of history there. Many different rulers and different cultures have been prominent there through the centuries, but Islam has been one of the biggest influences on the countries current shape and form.

A view of Bhagdad
A view of Bhagdad

In Baghdad you will find the National Museum of Iraq and the National Library. These contained documents and relics going back many thousands of years. Unfortunately both were ruined and looted due to the current war.

Baghdad Tower is a Middle Eastern marvel of a building. A huge tower with a rotating restaurant: with a breath taking view of all Baghdad.

There are many more magnificent sites to see in Baghdad but many are ruined now due to the war. Hopefully in time they will be rebuilt.

Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Hanging Gardens of Babylon

Karbala

Karbala is a very important religious pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims around the world. In Karbala a major event, known as the Battle of Karbala took place which shaped the Shia side of Islam. Decedents of the prophet Mohammed were captured and tortured for 7 days, before being killed on the battle field. They were not given water to drink, and even the children were sacrificed. The whole time the victims held onto their beliefs and had faith in God. Every year Muslims, especially Shia’s mourn for them.

Babylonian Ziggurat
Babylonian Ziggurat

Babylon

Iraq is the cradle of civilization. According to current records civilisation started there over 9000 years ago. Magnificent ancient cities such as Babylon once stood there. Babylon was renowned for its high fortified walls, and magnificent temples and palaces. The Famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Today many ruins and relics still stand there and are worth a see if you are interested in history.

Other Sites

There are many other in Iraq which are a must see if you are in the part of the world. Najaf is another very religious place for Muslims to visit and before the war millions of Muslims would create a pilgrimage to the site. In Najaf you will find one the most important Muslim cemeteries and the site of the Imam Ali Mosque. Many other cities such as Samarra, and Kadhimiya have many strong Islamic historical sites.

There is also a place of pilgrimage in Baghdad for a Baha’i Pilgrimage.

Some other key cities and important ruins to visit are:

· Ctesiphon

· Eridu

· Hatra

· Kiah

· Lagash

· Nineveh

· Nippur

· Nuzi

· Sumer

· Tell Ubaid

· Ur

· Uruk

· Samarra

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