Iraq is a country with a troubled political landscape, one that has left many wondering whether they should even explore this fantastic land. This article will explore Iraq’s main trump card: a long history of human culture. Of course, this country is an essential part of every Muslim religious traveler, and the most significant chunk of its tourism is precisely religious tourism.
That being said, there are many ancient sites that you can visit to learn about the history of humankind. But, this visit would not be your regular travel, as there are many military checkpoints and certain clothing etiquette.
Traveling to Iraq
Travelers report that they are feeling generally safe in Iraq, especially in Iraqi Kurdistan, a northern part of the country. Women solo travelers are usually advised to hire a tourist guide and dress modestly when traveling to the southern parts of Iraq.
Suppose you want to use the internet while in Iraq. In that case, we recommend buying a SIM card from some of the three largest mobile network operators – Zain Iraq, Asiacell, or Korek Telekom. The service is excellent everywhere, so you don’t have to worry about feeling disconnected while exploring great historical places in Iraq.
Paying by card would be possible only if you are in a big hotel, a fancy hotel, or a major shopping mall. Otherwise, you will need cash. Iraqi currency is called the Iraqi dinar, worth around 1,500 USD. This currency is gaining popularity in the currency investor market, and there are ways to find out the Iraqi dinar’s future prediction. That way, if you don’t spend everything you have exchanged, maybe you could sell it and earn some money.
Historical Sites to Visit in Iraq
Iraq is the place of the start of civilization. It is where the first cities were formed around the famous rivers Tigers and Euphrates. 7 thousand years ago, on the land of today’s Iraq, people were starting to organize into more complex communities forming the Mesopotamian civilization.
It is no wonder that this land has more archaeological gams than almost any other place in Asia. Iraq was furthermore a part of the Ottoman Empire, so there are a plethora of cultural heritage sites honoring Islam, this country’s main religion. We created a list of the most important historic places and archaeological sites to visit in Iraq for those who want to be catapulted to the past.
Hatra represents the remainders of the ancient Mesopotamian city located in today’s Northern Iraq. When you pass the rounded outer walls and the inner gate, you will confront the Greek-style temple with Persian-style iwans behind it – a very unique sighting in Iraq.
There are temple remains, with statues of ancient gods, such as Apollo, Eros, and Hermes. Scientists assume that Hatra was a caravan city. It was located on a high-traveling route, where travelers found rest, sleep, and food.
Harta is a captivating sight due to its large size and because it is made out of masonry. This is opposing the mud-brick buildings you will see the most in Iraq.
Samarra Archaeological City
Samarra Archaeological City stands on the coast of the river Tigris, and it was the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate during the medieval period. Samarra was the place where the Samarra culture was born around 5,500 BCE.
These places hold so many human stories that cannot be told by one article. They need to be felt and seen in person. What stands out the most in Samarra Archaeological City is the spiral minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra, one of the holiest places in the whole country.
Babylon needs no introduction for itself, as it is one of the most famous sites in Iraq and the world. Bible scripture captured this ancient city’s importance to human culture. Babylon was the capital of Babylonia from the 18th to the 6th century BC, and it was the biggest and most famous city in the world.
Babylon remains are located around 55 miles south of Baghdad, and you can choose a tour guide from whichever city you are traveling to. Marvel at the Summer Palace is thought of as the site of the magical Hanging Gardens. Look at the basalt Lion of Babylon, a thousand-year-old mystery that still gives sleepless nights to some scientists.
‘Mound of bitumen’ or ‘Tel Muqeihat’ is what you can call the ancient city of Ur. The remains of the ziggurat, after which the city got its name, are built-in two periods – one from 2300 BC and one from the late 500s BC. It was one of the largest cities in the Mesopotamian civilization era.
You can get acquainted with the old way of life by visiting the reconstructed houses, in one of which lived (as it is rumored) Abraham and his family. There is a third-dynasty mausoleum with Royal Tombs and a large cemetery – this sighting will make you wonder about all the lives that touched this ancient ground.
The meaning of this city is ‘’The City of Gods’’, and it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. The old town of Erbil holds the ancient citadel, and it is uninhabited due to restoration for the first time in civilization history. The citadel is 100 feet tall and was built during the Sumerian domination. It is a mesmerizing building that will stay in your memories long after you come back home.
The arch of Ctesiphon stands as a living monument of the Arsacid capital city. What is left now is this 98-feet-tall arch that connects the ruins of the White Palace. This is the most prominent single-span brick arch in the world, and it was built in the late 3rd century AD.
The city of Ctesiphon was destroyed by the Roman general Avidius Cassius in 165 AD. Before that, it was a capital and a royal residence to the Arsacid rulers. It was one of many cities in ancient times that used the Tigris river as its life source.
Useful Things to Know Before You Visit Iraq
Because of the war, there are big differences in traveling to the northern part of the country called Iraqi Kurdistan and to the north of Federal Iraq. You need separate visas for these two parts of the country.
Note that you can get free-of-charge access on arrival, but only if you travel by plane. If you travel by car or a bus, you will not be able to pass the border without a preapproved document. Although Iraq is considered a war zone, it is generally safe for tourists.