The Republic of Iraq is a Middle Eastern country, situated in Western Asia, in the Arabian Gulf. Iraq is located in Lower Mesopotamia in accordance with historical Babylon, but also includes part of Upper Mesopotamia, the Levant, and the Arabian Desert. Iraq is a country of great history that dates back to thousands of years of civilization, including Sumerian, Akkad, Babylonian, Assyrian, Roman, Sassanian, and Islamic civilizations.
Iraq was known as Mesopotamia, it is located in the Fertile Crescent region. This civilization arose between the two great Tigris and Euphrates rivers. These rivers flow into the Persian Gulf through the state of Iraq. When it comes to nature, Iraq is a diverse country, from the mountains, valleys, and forests in northern Iraq, especially in the Kurdistan region.
Iraq is an important tourist destination due to its diverse nature. The hills of Hamrin, the fertile sedimentary plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to barren deserts such as the Arabian Desert, and the Levant. Iraq also contains the western desert plateau, in addition to great archaeological sites, as it was the cradle of great civilizations in the ancient world.
There are natural marshes in southern Iraq, which are the natural environment for endangered animals not found anywhere else in the world, the most famous marshes are the Al-Hawizeh and the Hammar. There are natural lakes in Iraq, such as Sawa Lake in the Samawa desert. In addition to several artificial lakes, such as Tharthar Lake, Razzaza Lake, and others.
Most Important Touristic Cities in Iraq
When we think of Iraq, we automatically think of the important touristic places in northern Iraq, as well as the famous historical places. We also think of the most beautiful landscapes there, such as rivers and distinctive waterways. It is the cradle of civilization with its famous science, medicine, law, literature, and other fields. In Iraq one can find various types of tourism; there is the historical, the environmental, the religious, ethnic, and cultural tourism.
The capital of Iraq contains a number of shrines, mosques, and shrines that tourists visit in all seasons of the year, which puts it on the list of religious tourism.
Mosques and Shrines in Iraq
It includes the shrines of the two Imams, Musa Al-Kadhim and his grandson. A wide mosque was built around the two shrines, and it is now topped by 2 large domes and 4 minarets painted with pure gold. This mosque was established in 1515 CE.
The mosque and shrine of Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan
The mosque is located in the Adhamiya area at the tomb of Imam Abu Hanifa al-Numan, the founder of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. It has a large dome, known as the Scene of Abu Hanifa, with a school for the Hanafis next to it.
It is one of the holy shrines and shrines for both Christians and Muslims alike. It is one of the oldest mosques in Baghdad in the history of Islam. In the narration, Buratha was a Christian monastery in which a monk named Habar was worshiping. He embraced Islam and moved with Imam Ali bin Abi Talib to the center of the Islamic caliphate in the city of Kufa, and the monastery turned into a mosque that was known as the Buratha Mosque. The place contains a solid black rock, and a water spring, which later turned into a well, people are still to this day using the water for wellness and recovery.
The Caliphs Mosque
It is located in Al-Shorja area, you can see a modern mosque adorned with an ancient minaret that is part of the Dar Al-Khilafa Mosque or the Al-Qasr Mosque. As for the minaret that stands today, it is the only remnant of the Abbasid state, as it was the highest beacon through which the entire city of Baghdad could be seen.
In Baghdad don’t miss to visit the copper bazaars and the National Museum, discover the various treasures hidden inside, examine precious monuments, and experience traditional food and beverages.
Other Important Attractions
The National Museum
This museum contains some outstanding artifacts from the history of Mesopotamia. In the Iraq Museum, there are artifacts that you will not find anywhere else in the world. The oldest pieces of the museum date back to approximately 4000 BCE.
From the earliest settlements to the rise and fall of vast empires, the museum and its exhibits symbolize the richness and diversity of Iraqi culture, art, and design.
This monument was built as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives during the Iran-Iraq War. Under the monument is a small museum about the war, a library, an auditorium, and a photo gallery.
Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad
This street is considered one of the most crowded places in downtown Baghdad and was named after one of the most prominent poets in the history of Arabic literature. The street is well known for its shops where old notes, postcards and books can be purchased.
This is one of the largest and most famous gardens in Baghdad. Al-Zawra Park was an army camp but later turned into a family-friendly recreation area.
After the events of the 1958 revolution, the Prime Minister asked an architect to build a monument in memory of the establishment of the Republic of Iraq. This epic monument, located in Tahrir Square, is the most famous monument in the city.
The City of Dur-Kurigalzu Aqar-Qūf
It is located near Baghdad, contains ancient ruins, and has been deserted for more than 3500 years. This place was the heart of the first civilization in the southern region of Mesopotamia, located precisely in the vicinity of the Tigris and the great Euphrates. The place was the home of ancient kings who built the Dur-Kurigalzu during the 14th century.
Today, you can visit this city and see many stone works of amazing shapes and looks, and a number of walls made of mud bricks, which follow high towers in the desert, used in the past as a sign for camel caravans on their way to the city of Baghdad.
Major Cities in Iraq
This city tells the history of ancient Iraq in Iraqi Kurdistan. Among the distinguished places that help in learning about the culture and history of Iraq is the Museum of Civilization of the city of Erbil which is one of the most important locations to visit, in addition to the center of Kurdish textiles manufacture.
Citadel of Erbil
An ancient citadel and fortress located on a hill and the center of the city of Erbil. The citadel site may date back as early as the Neolithic period 7000 years ago. This fortified city covers an area of 102 thousand square meters. It is located in an area that has been occupied continuously since at least 5 thousand years BCE. The Erbil Citadel has become part of the world heritage by a decision of the United Nations UNESCO and is currently undergoing extensive restoration work.
The castle includes a number of public buildings such as mosques, the castle’s bath, and sanctuaries. There are many centers and museums inside the Erbil Citadel
there is an ancient fortress that has existed. It is a citadel with an amazing history in the center of the city. It is considered one of the most prominent touristic attractions in Iraq.
Many people know the name of the city of Basra, but they might not be aware of its history. It is one of the most famous places in Iraq. When you walk around this city, you can see a group of the most beautiful touristic places.
The city is located in the Nahr Al-Arab region, which surrounds the corniche of the city of Basra with the bright sun, you can enjoy walking in the refreshing evening breeze. You will also be able to visit a group of the most famous tombs of the imams. Many of the areas there are completely covered with palms and forests.
One of the cities famous for religious tourism, as it includes the library of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, in addition to dozens of public and personal libraries, and several ancient mosques, which were the centers of religious seminaries throughout history, such as the Al-Hindi Mosque and the Al-Tusi Mosque.
Located in the Najaf city, it contains the shrine and pulpit of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib, as well as the anchorage of Noah’s Ark, in addition to remnants of the House of the Principality.
Wadi al-Salam Cemetery
It is famous for being adjacent to the shrine of Imam Ali bin Abi Talib. The cemetery in the city of Najaf is one of the most important Muslim cemeteries. It is considered the largest cemetery in the world, as it is estimated to contain nearly 6 million graves. It is included in the World Heritage List.
The Sea of Najaf
The sea is 60 miles long, 30 miles wide, and 40 meters deep. It was called by many names at different times. It is worth mentioning that the sea had been exposed to drought and only a little bit of water is left of it, it is located in the city of Najaf.
Every year, more than 30 million people make their way to the city of Karbala to visit, as the cemetery of Imam Hussein bin Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohamed is located there. The city is divided into two parts, the old Karbala and the new Karbala, with wide roads and a railway.
A high place from the ground is located near the Imam Hussein shrine in the center of Karbala. Its height is 5 meters from the Husseini Mosque. The total area of the courtyard is 2175 meters, and it is considered one of the most important landmarks of the city.
The oldest archaeological palace in the Karbala governorate. It is located 30 square kilometers from the city. It was built by Shimon Ibn Jabel Al-Lakhmi, a Christian cleric. Only its pillars are remaining in the location of the palace, which is 15 square meters high.
It is one of the city’s landmarks, the oldest church in Iraq in general. It dates back to the 5th century CE. It contains some graves of nuns and Christian clergymen. The church is surrounded by a mud wall with four towers. The wall contains 15 doors. The height of the church is 16 meters and 4 meters wide.
It is an important tourist center and is the second largest lake in Iraq after Tharthar Lake. It is one of the ecological and touristic attractions in Iraq.
Imam Ali Dropper
This dropper is located near Al-Razzaza Lake in the middle of the desert. It is a single spring of water, about 28 square kilometers away from the city of Karbala.
Hatara city is located on the Euphrates Island in the northwestern plain of Mesopotamia. It is considered one of the oldest Arab kingdoms in Iraq, specifically. The Hatra Kingdom is about 70 kilometers from the ancient city of Assyria. The Kingdom of Hatra appeared in the 3rd century CE and was ruled by four kings whose rule lasted for nearly a hundred years.
The Kingdom of Hatra was famous for its architecture and industries. This city was a trader of Rome in terms of progress, where baths were found with a developed heating system, watchtowers, court, carved inscriptions, mosaics, coins, and statues. They also minted money in the Greek and Roman manner and collected great wealth as a result of their prosperity Economic.
This city is located in the west desert area. It contains towering columns and a group of ornate temples. It is known as one of the amazing archaeological sites that attract most tourists. You can also take a look at one of the most important wonders of the Parthian era, which is now one of the UNESCO heritage sites.
Sulaymaniyah city is one of the important cities that tourists visit to feel relaxation and peace of mind. It is situated on high mountains in the northern region of Iraq, the city also enjoys a cold climate when compared to a large number of other Iraqi cities.
An ancient castle located in the city of Kalar in Sulaymaniyah, northern Iraq. This building was built in the pre-Islamic era. It is a beautiful, lofty castle located on the banks of the Sirwan River. This castle was previously neglected and destroyed until restoration during the reign of Saddam Hussien. It is considered one of the archaeological monuments in northern Iraq in the Kurdistan region.
One of the natural features of Sulaymaniyah is located in the Sulaymaniyah on the Dukan Dam near the town of Dukan. The lake is the largest water body in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a tourist complex there.
An archaeological museum located in the city center of Sulaymaniyah. It is the second-largest museum in Iraq in terms of contents. It includes many artifacts dating back to the prehistoric period, the late Islamic and the Ottoman eras.
The city has a thriving arts scene and is famous for its wonderful restaurants that serve delicious meals, and one of the best meals is the delicious kofta with perfect seasoning, as well as delicious biryani dishes. If you want to enjoy visiting valleys and oases and do many adventures, you will not find it better than this city.
In the Iraqi city of Babylon, you will be able to evoke the era of ancient historical empires, visit the Hanging Gardens, the places where epic battles took place between the Persian kings and Alexander the Great, at the present time the process of restoring buildings and preserving the remains of historical places is well done.
While exploring the city of Babylon we feel as if we are following in the footsteps of great kings and emperors and exploring many historical and archaeological pieces, for example, the broken lion statues displayed in the British National Museum.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
One of the great touristic attractions in Iraq. It is one of the seven wonders of the world. It is the only wonder that is believed to be a legend, it is claimed that it was built in the ancient city of Babylon and its current location is near the city of Hilla in Babylon Governorate. It is the earliest attempt at vertical farming in history, little remains of this site.
Tower of Babylon
A mysterious huge tower, long and wide, with a base of 92 meters. A lot of myths narrate the story of this site, it was built to reach the lord of the heavens, so they built several towers on top of each other until the number reaches eight towers.
In the middle, we find a station and benches for resting on which those who raise it may sit to rest. The little remains on the site tell that it was square-shaped.
In the middle of the 4th century BCE, the city of Ctesiphon was one of the small Persian settlements located on the Tigris River, and during the 1st century CE this city became the Parthian capital and it grew and developed until it included the city of Seleucia.
In the 7th century, it became one of the most important and largest cities in Iraq. One of the monuments in the city is the Sassanid Dome, which is considered one of the most important and largest domes in the whole world, as well as being one of the most important archaeological sites in Iraq.
Iwan of Khosrau Site
The fame of Iwan of Khosrau or Taq-i Kisra is due to the Persian fire, which was always lit inside the Iwan. It is worth mentioning that the Iwan was built during the reign of Khosrau in 540 CE and consists of two parts, namely the building itself and the arch next to it. Iwan of Khosrau is located in the city of Ctesiphon.
A city with a wonderful and rich history, it has a collection of amazing historical monuments that date back more than 2000 years. Several mosques date back to the early Islamic era, for example, the ruins of the Umayyad Mosque since 640 CE. Several ancient churches, such as the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle for the Syriac Orthodox, are the oldest church in the city. The oldest mention of it dates back to the 6th century CE.
The Iraqi city of Dohuk is located in a small valley in the northern region of Iraq. It is located a short distance from the borders of Turkey. It is one of the easiest areas to enjoy visiting, and the people in Dohuk always welcome visitors from all over the world.
This city also has a large number of cafes, and excellent Kurdish markets that sell spices and high-quality carpets, in addition to its breathtaking waterfalls.
The city of Samarra is one of the important cities in Islamic history, as it was built by the Abbasid Caliph Al-Mu’tasim. It is 124 km north of Baghdad. Samarra is distinguished as a center that attracts tourists and visitors due to its historical and religious archaeological sites. The city includes a number of shrines. Among the fascinating sites are the Al-Malawi Mosque and its astonishing minaret and the Al-Baraka Palace built by Caliph Al-Mutawakkil.
The city of Nineveh is located 410 km north of Baghdad, and contains many important archaeological monuments, such as the palace of King Sennacherib, as well as the palace of Ashurnasirpal II, and the statue of the famous King Sargon of Akkad.
The city of Nimrud was the capital of the Assyrians in the 13th century BCE, it is located south of Mosul. Many royal tombs were discovered in Nimrud, as well as the Nimrud treasure, which was discovered in 1988, it contains about 600 gold pieces and many precious stones, most of which are found in the British National Museum. In the city of Nimrud, you can witness figures of winged bulls and other monuments made by the Assyrians.
The city of Amadiyah is distinguished by being built on the highest mountain peak, 1400 meters above sea level. Amadiyah is located 70 km north of Dohuk. It is worth mentioning that the city contains a number of ancient gates.
Additional Famous Attractions in Iraq
Iraq is rich in diverse touristic components, such as ancient historical monuments and diverse cultures, in addition to the beauty of its unique nature with its authentic Arab heritage.
Iraq also provides tourists with unique experiences and an opportunity to have a range of the most enjoyable tourist activities, including exploring the ancient Iraqi civilization, where the Ottoman monuments and its famous ancient mosques. In addition to the meandering waterways of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, stunning canyons and fertile plains, as well as many other tourist attractions.
Archaeological Site of Ur
The city is famous for its wonderful tales about the kings of Babylon and the various floods. It is also famous for a large number of ancient monuments. Ur is located in the desert region of southern Iraq.
The city was famous for the building of Ziggurat, which is a temple of goddess Inanna, the goddess of the moon, according to a Sumerian myth. It contained 16 royal tombs built of bricks and mud. Every cemetery had a well. When the king died, his female servants were buried with him in their clothes and ornaments after killing them with poison when he dies.
It is an archaeological site with towering walls, that is characterized by steep stairs, this place is classified as one of the most mysterious and exotic touristic places in Iraq.
The Ahwar of Southern Iraq
One of the important wetlands in the Middle East, it includes swamps and huge lakes, which are resting and hatching sites for many types of migratory birds and fish. There are also mammals in the region, some of which are endangered. The marshes are characterized by the presence of water and plants, especially reeds and sedge.
The inhabitants of the marshes are distinguished by a certain lifestyle that distinguishes them from the rest of the population of Iraq. As they raise buffaloes, build their homes from reeds, and live on fishing. The environmental diversity in the region is one of the most important factors that may encourage the development of ecotourism in the future.
The palace was built by Issa bin Musa of the Abbasid state in 778 CE. The palace is a unique architectural masterpiece as it combines the Umayyad and Abbasid architectural styles together. The palace is located south of the city of Karbala in central Iraq.
Tomb of the Prophets Daniel and Dhu al-Kifl
This tomb is important for both Muslims and Jews, as Muslims believe that the tomb contains the body of Prophet Dhu al-Kifl, while the Jews believe that the Prophet Daniel was buried there.
Kothi is famous for being the place that witnessed the miracle of the Prophet Ibrahim Al-Khalil, where the fire turned into cold and peace when he was thrown into it.
Babel International Festival
The festival was established in 1985 by the Iraqi Ministry of Culture. The festival included many activities such as singing and folk dancing, the participation of foreign bands, the screening of films and other cultural items.
Baghdad Shopping Festival
An annual festival held on the grounds of the Baghdad International Fair for a week in order to promote marketing and tourism in Iraq. The festival began for the first time in 2015. In addition to its contribution to the consolidation of the unique position of Baghdad as a destination for shopping.
Spring Festival in Mosul
One of the famous cultural and natural festivals in Iraq, it was postponed after 2003, then resumed again in 2018.
Baghdad International Flower Festival
An international festival organized by the Municipality of Baghdad on the 15th of April of each year, it started in 2009 to display types of flowers from different countries of the world, where many Arab and international countries, municipal departments, and Iraqi agricultural departments participate in it.
Don’t miss out on an adventure in the Dunes
Iraq is known as a region rich in stunning sand dunes, ideal for tours, safaris and camping. Do not miss its experience during the tourism holiday in Iraq.
Best Time to Travel to Iraq
The best time to travel to Iraq is during the warm dry season, in spring and autumn, as the numbers of tourists increase dramatically. However, people’s preferences vary according to the following:
Spring is the perfect time to explore Iraq and enjoy its wonderful tourist attractions. Spring is the peak season for tourism in Iraq, where tourists enjoy exploring diverse wildlife, watching amazing landscapes, and experiencing several tourist and recreational adventures and various activities.
Summer in Iraq is characterized by high temperatures, with less rain. Therefore, it is one of the preferred times for tourism in Iraq, and to do all tourist activities in the open air. Summer is the second busiest season for tourists in Baghdad.
Autumn is also the perfect period for peace lovers. This is because this season is characterized by calm and a wonderful dreamy atmosphere to roam the country, enjoying snowfall and interesting recreational games, it is also one of the least expensive seasons for tourism.
Winter in Iraq has a special character, as it is a wonderful time for tourism, especially for lovers of very cold winter weather, those who enjoy the icy atmosphere and exploring the landmarks in peace. It is characterized by a decrease in the number of tourists and low prices for hotels and accommodation,
Languages in Iraq
Arabic and Kurdish are the official languages of Iraq. There are also many minority languages in Iraq, such as Turkish, Aramaic, Persian, Akkadian, Syriac, and Armenian.
Official Currency in Iraq
The new Iraqi dinar is the official currency in Iraq.
The Iraqi cuisine is very rich, diverse, and delicious. As the popular dishes vary in their ingredients and methods of preparation from one city to the other. Iraqi dishes differ according to the geographical region of Iraq due to the changing environment and resources. Among the most popular Iraqi dishes are:
Masgouf: It is a famous Baghdadi dish, and it has a special method of preparation, as the fish is grilled while hanging on sticks of wood. various types of river fish are used in cooking masgouf, especially flax and carp.
Rice and Guima: It is a famous dish in southern and central Iraq, especially on religious occasions, and it consists of mashed chickpeas and meat with rice.
Iraqi Kebab: Similar to the Arabic kebab, but it has a different taste.
Dolma: It is called in some countries mahshi, and it is characterized by the diversity of its components. It consists of rolled green paper plants stuffed with meat or rice or mixed vegetables.
Biryani: Similar to the Gulf Kabsa, which is rice mixed with some nuts such as pistachios, almonds, as well as minced meat, with special types of spices.
Baja: A popular dish, consisting of lamb’s head and legs, which are boiled and eaten with bread and rice.
The Period to Spend in Iraq
The ideal duration of tourism in Iraq is about 10 days, which is enough to visit its uniquely important touristic destination and explore its major attractions. The following is a suggested touristic program in Iraq that you can modify according to your desire:
Four Days in Baghdad
First, head to Baghdad, and explore the most beautiful tourist attractions there, such as: Al-Taher Square, the Martyrs’ Monument, the Baghdad Gates, the golden domes of the Khadimiya Mosque, the Abbasid Palace, the Al-Baghdadi Museum, the Iraq Museum, and Al-Firdaws Square.
Do not forget to dedicate time to visiting all the amazing mosques and shrines in Baghdad and enjoy traditional Iraqi Biryani. You can also plan for an extra day to visit Al-Zawraa Park and the fascinating wonders of the Dur-Kurigalzu Aqar-Qūf.
One Day in Babylon
On the following day, you can head to the most famous historical place in Iraq, and enjoy watching many exciting tourist attractions of Babylon, such as the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, Saddam’s Babylonian Palace, the ancient city of Babylon, Ishtar Blue Gate, and the Lion Statue.
One Day in Najaf
Najaf is one of the holiest cities for Shiite Muslims. Head to the Imam Ali Mosque, and see its gold-plated dome and many other valuables surrounding it.
Three Days in Kurdistan
At least 3 days to discover Iraqi Kurdistan. The beautiful nature, great ancient archaeological sites, and diverse cultural surroundings. An experience to live with for such a long time.
One more day in the Marshes
To visit the Mesopotamian rivers in the Chabayish area known as the Iraqi Marshes, and enjoy your peace of mind. As it is one of the most beautiful touristic places in Iraq. That is where you can enjoy riding Al Mashof boats for fishing and sea cruising and watching the marsh houses. Then go to the markets, buy souvenirs, and get ready to go home.
You can move within Iraq using many public transportation methods, the most important of which are the following:
There are many domestic flights in Iraq, through which you can travel between the most famous major tourist cities in the country.
Iraq has many public buses and cars, but some roads are unpaved and some cars do not use lights at night, as buses are not the best way to travel within Iraq.
Iraq has many different railways, which provide you with a way to move within Iraqi cities, as their prices are very cheap.
Taxi is the most common way in Iraq to get around the cities, as it is the most convenient and fastest way with average prices as well.
Communications and Internet in Iraq
Communication companies in Iraq have met with a remarkable development and a great spread, as they have multiplied and offered telecommunications and Internet offers throughout the country. The internet speed in Iraq is acceptable, and prices are low. Internet is also available at airports, stations, restaurants, as well as some high-end areas.