Located in the north of Iraq, Kurdistan is home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes in the Middle East. It’s all green mountains with snow-capped peaks that will for sure break all of the stereotypes you have about Iraq. Iraqi Kurdistan is not a desert, and most importantly, not a war zone that is filled with ISIS terrorists!
It’s a safe place, especially the capital city, Erbil. It’s the ultimate destination for travelers who are looking for uniqueness and are interested to meet the Kurds, who are some of the most hospitable people you will ever meet; very brave and proud of their nation.
In Kurdistan, you will defiantly enjoy the ultimate experience when it comes to hiking, camping, and simply meeting amazing people with remarkable and unbelievable stories to tell. As a Kurdish person myself, I’m here to tell you that there are some remarkable developments in the economic sector, as well as the region’s stability as a whole.
You may think why in hell would you visit Kurdistan, but in actual fact, there is a lot of potential in this country! Here are a few ideas and tips to help you navigate around the country.
Kurds have managed to coexist with different religions like Islam, Christianity, Ezidis, Kakai, and many other ethnic and religious groups. That actually helped Kurdistan express its multicultural identity, as well as its colorful image that led to attracting a large number of foreign visitors from around the world who are excited to check out the temples, mosques, churches, and other religious sites.
I recommend you visit Lalish, the holiest place to the Ezidis. It’s this huge natural landscape which has powerful symbols of the Abrahamic, Zoroastrian, as well as indigos Mesopotamian elements.
There’s also the ancient Monastery of Saint Matthew; it’s considered one of the oldest surviving Christian monasteries in the world! It’s located on a mountain known as “Mountain of the Thousands” named after the thousands of monks who lived there.
Hiran Shrines is another religious site that you must visit. It’s a cemetery complex for Sufi leaders; the place is centered around rock-cut tombs in caves. During major holidays, the Sufi community gathers in masses at this site, and pilgrims regularly visit around the years to pay respect and pray.
The are many historical sites and attractions in Kurdistan from ancient Neanderthals, Assyrians, Turks, Christians, and Kurds. By visiting these sites, you will gain a great understanding of the different cultures in Kurdistan, learning about the rich history as well as the culture by visiting the numerous historical sites. Those are like Erbil Citadel, locally known as Qalat; it has been listed on the World Heritage List in 2014. The citadel dates back to the 5th millennium B.C., and possibly earlier; it held huge importance during the Neo-Assyrian period.
Khanzad Citadel was constructed during the Soran Emirate in the 16th century; it’s situated about 22 km away from Erbil and Shaqlawa, sitting on the top of a small hill.
Diyarbakir City Walls is one of the greatest and well-maintained walls. It dates back to the Romans and till this day the walls are largely intact, forming a ring around the old city that is over three miles long.
And finally the Shanidar Cave, an archeological site that is not far from the capital Erbil. Is famous for the Neanderthals remains and consists of ten skeletons that date back to over 50,000 years ago.
The Kurdish region is known for having beautiful valleys, mountains, and forests as well as rivers. You can definitely enjoy mountain climbing at Pera Magrun, Bradost, Sheren, and Safen mountains. You can also go explore the many caves and mountains that are still undiscovered across the region. Many of these caves’ depths are unknown and most of the peaks haven’t been discovered yet.
WE SAID THIS: Kurdistan is the land of nature, beauty, and history.