life through the lens
home destinations a-z the big trips about me world beers newspapers updates/links top fives travel store



IRAQ (Iraqi Kurdistan)

Location - Middle East; Capital - Iraqi Kurdistan - Erbil (Hewler); Iraq - Baghdad; Population - Iraqi Kurdistan - 5.2million; Iraq 50million; Currency - Dinar MORE IRAQ

From Sulaymaniyah it's about an hour and a quarter in a shared taxi to Dukan, a stopping off point on the way to Erbil - November 2013.


iraqnote2Iraqi Kurdistan uses the same currency as the rest of Iraq, the Dinar









iraq235Dukan centre is little more than one long main street


iraq252The main reason to visit Dukan is to see Dukan Lake, a few kms out of town


iraq255It's the largest man-made lake in Iraq - Dukan














iraq259And the Ashur Hotel provides as good a view as any from its swimming pool - Dukan














iraq257Don't think this boat is going anywhere fast - Dukan


iraq247Ashur Hotel's fancy restaurant - Dukan


iraq240In the centre of Dukan is the river feeding the lake













iraq261Mountainous scenery on the way from Dukan to Koya


iraq262Hanging around Koya garage waiting for a shared taxi to Erbil to fill up


iraq314The focal point of Erbil is the fantastic central square beneath the citadel














iraq275 A mosque and clocktower stand either side of the square's arcade - Erbil













iraq281Locals and Arab Iraqi tourists come to enjoy the fountains, teahouses and nearby bazaar - Erbil


iraq283It's a buzzing area and if you're visiting it's worth getting a hotel in this area. That is unless you're pining for the bars of Ainkawa, a Christian suburb in the north - Erbil


iraq276Peshmerga walk through the square with the citadel as a backdrop - Erbil













iraq278Most people gathering around the fountains seem to be taking photos, me included - Erbil














iraq284A souvenir shop below the citadel - Erbil


iraq279The Kurdish name for Erbil (or Arbil, Irbil) is Hewler, also spelt Hawler, but most refer to the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan as Erbil. Sulaymaniyah (Suleimaniyah, Suleymaniyah) is usually called Sleimani or Suleimani and Dohuk is Duhok. Enough?!


iraq309The fountains are lit up at night and there's a lively atmosphere in the square - Erbil















iraq269Erbil Citadel, or Qalat Hawler, rises over 30m above the shops below - Erbil














iraq285But the best teahouse I went to was Machko Chai Khana, on the edge of the square beneath the citadel. Again, the friendly locals chatted away and bought me drinks. There's also a couple of makeshift food stalls nearby - Erbil


iraq312Chatting with locals at a teahouse in the square. These were Iraqi guys visiting from Babylon (south of Baghdad). They were very friendly, buying my drinks and asking why I don't visit Baghdad ('Because of the bombs?' they asked. Erm..yes). The guy on the left was receiving treatment for leukaemia in Erbil. Hopefully all went well - Erbil



iraq288The entrance gate to the 8,000 year old citadel, regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited town in the world - Erbil














iraq291 The citadel's 18th century Grand Mosque - Erbil















iraq294The interpretation of 'continuously inhabited' has been stretched today. The citadel is in the middle of major reconstruction and the population has been moved out, save for one family so as not to break the chain - Erbil


iraq298The citadel gives a chance to take in more of the city - Erbil


iraq318Qaysari Bazaar surrounds the citadel and central square - Erbil















iraq322A covered section of the bazaar - Erbil














iraq321This old guy carved the wooden flutes in the basket. He could hardly see, and almost fell off his stool when demonstrating them, but he knows his stuff - Erbil


iraq325One more of the citadel from a park opposite the bazaar neaar Bata Street - Erbil


iraq323Now let me see, a trip to Baghdad, Kirkuk or Mosul? I'll plump for Ainkawa - Erbil














iraq367St Joseph's Church is in the largely Christian area of Ainkawa, a suburb in the north of Erbil - Erbil














iraq370Also in Ainkawa are a few bars and plenty of licquor stores. Deutscher Hof is a German bar restaurant complete with beer garden - Erbil


iraq331The impressive Jalil Khayat Mosque is on the 30 Metre Street ring road - Erbil


iraq335I took a half-day trip from Erbil to the castles of Khanzad and Deween. This is Khanzad Castle















iraq339Khanzad Castle is only 15km outside Erbil















iraq341My driver Haval pointed out this property on the hills above Khanzad Castle. It's a residence of Iraqi President Talabani (or was it Kurdistani leader Barzani?)


iraq345There's gorgeous mountain views from Deween Castle















iraq346It's a winding 1hr drive along narrow roads from Erbil to Deween Castle, also called Salahaddin Castle













iraq351It is said that Deween Castle was founded by the grandfather of 12th century Kurdish conqueror Salahaddin (aka Saladin)


iraq350Little of the castle remains but the sweeping mountain views are worth it alone - Deween Castle


iraq353I returned to Erbil and headed for Martyr Sami Abdul-Rahman Park, site of a former military base under Saddam Hussein














iraq359A very peaceful scene at one of the park lakes - Erbil















iraq358.. in contrast to the lake opposite, where women get a speedboat adrenaline buzz - Erbil


iraq362Very artistic sculptures in Martyr Sami Abdul-Rahman Park - Erbil


iraq363'Freedom is not Free'. A memorial in Martyr Sami Abdul-Rahman Park honours victims of the 2004 bombings in Erbil














iraq364Memorial to the 98 people who died - Erbil















iraq366The Kurdish Parliament Building was attacked in September 2013, the first bombings to occur in Iraqi Kurdistan for six years - Erbil


iraq375Water terraces at Minare Park - Erbil


iraq379Statues of notable people in Kurdish history line a pathway in Minare Park - Erbil

















iraq389Minare Park is named after the 36m high Sheik Chooli Minaret, all that remains of an 11th/12th century mosque - Erbil


iraq388I noticed one thing missing from the entrance to Erbil Citadel, which was the magnificent statue of 12th century historian Sharafaddin. But I came across it in Minare Park, transferred for safekeeping while citadel restoration works continue - Erbil


iraq383Is it the original? It looks a little new to me but looks great all the same - Erbil














iraq397Cable cars link Minare Park to Shanadar Park on the opposite side of Halabja Street - Erbil














iraq399The entrance to Shanadar Park - Erbil


iraq400Shanadar Park's waterways were a little dry but it's a scenic, green park with plenty of vegetation - Erbil


iraq401It also has shaded areas to enjoy a drink in a relaxed setting - Erbil














iraq406Al Sawaf Mosque stands behind Shanadar Park - Erbil















iraq410Shanadar Gallery displays photography, paintings and sculptures and has a few souvenir stalls - Erbil


iraq411I like it - a covered walkway made of hats - Erbil


iraq416Family Mall, on 100 Metre Street, is one of the the largest malls in Erbil














iraq420It's all very plush with many of the upmarket international shops on site. And expensive coffees at $8 a pop! Cheaper ones available of course - Erbil
















iraq421iraq423It's even got it's own kids train and a 9D cinema. What?! Erbil


iraq425A captured Iraqi tank on display in the village of Kore, the start of a drive from Erbil to Dohuk via the Hamilton Road













iraq427We passed the resort town of Shaqlawa, at the base of Safeen Mountain


Website and content Copyright © 2008-2014 Mark Wilkinson. All rights reserved.


LINKS - online Erbil magazine - travel info - Kurdistan Regional Government - Kurdistan tourist site - more travel info


I am not responsible for the content of external websites.


countries a-z