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Cities of Iraq



  3. ANBAR


  5. DUHOK 
  7. ARBIL
  8. SALAHUDIN (Samarra)
  10. BABEL
  12. NAJAF
  14. THI QAAR
  15. WASIT
  16. MEESAN
  18. BASRAH




GENERAL: In Iraq, all roads lead to the capital Baghdad. A city built in 762 A.D. by Abbasid caliph Abu Jafar Al mansour. There is so much to see in Baghdad in addition to natural, historical, and religious sites. Divided by the Tigris into two halves, Rusafa and Karkh, which are connected by several modern bridges. In Rusafa, Rasheed street is Baghdad’s most distinguished and most popular street, stretching from North gate (Bab al Mua’dham) to the South gate( Bab al Sharji). It is still very much the center of trade in Baghdad. In Karkh you will find the British style International Railway Station.
Baghdad is a combination of all that is best in the old and new. Multi-story buildings often tower over ancient arcaded bazaars overflowing with fantastic things. Motley of colors, races, costumes, and ways of life gives the city an air of vitality and excitement. European dress rubs shoulder with Arab costumes, blue jeans with ornate Kurdish clothes.

  • Bazaars & places of interest: You want a souvenir of your visit to Iraq? Baghdad’s famous souqs and bazaars have a variety of lovely oriental objects. You will find them mostly just off Rasheed street.

  • Coppersmith market: One of the most interesting places is the Coppersmith Souq, where copper is still beaten in the old traditional way into pots and pitchers of all shapes and sizes. The noise is great and so is the sight. Shops spill over with copperware for household or decorative uses, to suit all tastes. Primitive, austere, elaborate, highly ornate, take your pick.

  • River Street & Al-bazazeen, Shorjah & other markets: Further on from coppersmith souq, you will come to one specialized souq after another in a labyrinth of arcades. Don’t miss the Clothiers souq for a delightful sight of yards and yards of colorful material unfurled in beautiful arrangements, or the Rugs souq where hand woven rugs in striking local motifs and colors are on magnificent display. Nearby, on the other side of Rasheed Street, is the so-called “Shorjah”, one of the most important trade centers of the city. Chock-full of household wares, the place is aromatic with the smell of coffee, tea, spices and soap, and bustles with movement and noise.

  • Arab market: is considered as an adjacent to Shorjah. Off Rasheed Street again, along the river, is Mustansir street, a woman’s paradise for clothes, shoes, handbags, and cosmetics. At one end of it you will find the traditional gold and silversmiths known for centuries for their lovely jewelry.

  • Souq Al-ghazil: is a Friday pet-market. The name was given after the famous mosque and its minaret. In this market you can buy all kinds of birds and animals.

  • Saddam art center: The building is a piece of art by itself. It is situated in the Karkh side of Baghdad. The doorways of the center are guarded by two winged bulls. It exhibits a selection of work of famous Iraqi, Arabs, and foreigner’s artists.

  • AL- Mazgouf fish at Abu nuwas street: A beautiful river drive, stretching a long way by the Tigris between Jumhouriya Bridge and the 14th July Suspended Bridge. The street was called after the famous Abbasid poet who was a daring bon vivant and a boon companion of the caliph Haroun Al Rasheed, when Baghdad was at the peak of its glory. Further down, by the river-boats mooring place, there is a monument of Shahrazad relating her Arabian Nights tales to King Shahrayar (made in 1975 by Mohammad Ghani a famous Iraqi sculpture). This street has ever remained reminiscent of our delightful poet: thousands of people every night crowd the cafés, bars and “casinos”that dot the river bank all the way down. Perhaps one of its loveliest sights is the series of little circular fires along the river on which ‘MAZGOUF FISH” is grilled in an ancient way peculiar to Baghdad. A number of fishes are taken alive out of water, killed, gutted and transfixed on wooden pegs in a circle around a tamarisk wood fire. They are finally spiced and served with pickles and vegetables, a fabulous Baghdadi dish.

  • The National Theatre: The 1000 seat National Theatre in Fatih square is one of the most modern and best equipped theatre in the Arab world. It has a 15 meter diameter revolving stage, and has two halls fitted for cinematic projection. Plays, concerts, musical evenings and film shows are regularly presented in it.

  • Baghdad international fair: This huge international fair used to be held every year from 1st – 14th October, when a large number of industrial, agricultural, and commercial companies and firms from all over the world meet in one large event. It also provides excellent opportunities to all foreigners participants to familiarize themselves with Iraqi industrial, agricultural, and commercial markets.


  • The Iraq Museum: Museum square, Karkh. Few countries in the
    world are as rich in archaeology as Iraq. The Iraq Museum, with its great well-organized and carefully labeled collection of archaeological finds is a reflection of this richness. A record of the many peoples and cultures which flourished in Mesopotamia from time immemorial up to the centuries of the Arab empire, the museum offers a vivid display of pre-historic remains, of the civilizations and arts of the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Chaldeans, Seleucids, Parthian, Sasanians, and Abbassians. The display halls are chronologically arranged in this order. For the benefit of scholars, the museum has a rich multilingual library, which adds to the prestige of the Iraq Museum as one of the best in the world of Mesopotamian studies.

  • Museum of national costumes and folklore: Located in Rasheed
    Street, on the eastern bank of the Tigris. Apart from the culinary national character of the exhibits, the Museum’s building is in an original Baghdad style of the architecture worth noting.

  • The Baghdad museum: Located in Mamoun Street, near Shuhada
    Bridge. Traditional professions and popular customs of Baghdad represented in colorful life-size sculptures. Many of the professions and customs are fast disappearing but they are still very interesting to see, even as images.You will for instance see the old water-barer, the weaver, the Zakariya fast ritual, the bridegroom’s ceremony, etc. A multilingual library on relevant subjects is also part of the museum. Paintings, photographs, maps and other illustrative material depict aspects of the city’s history, together with the portraits of famous men who once ruled the city. It is administered by the capital’s mayoralty.

  • The war museum: Located at Adhamiya, River-drive, Kasra. It
    exhibits many examples of old weaponry and diversity of arms and military equipment used by the Iraqi Army since its foundation, showing the stages of its development.

  • National museum of modern art: Located in Kifah Street, near
    (Tayaran) Saba’wi Square. It is a complex of four galleries, the largest of which is devoted to Iraqi modern art, with a permanent collection of paintings, sculptures and ceramics which is constantly being expanded. The visitor can follow up history of the Iraqi modern art movement from its earliest beginnings to the present. The other three galleries hold a large number of collective and one-man shows all the year round.

  • Museum of Iraqi pioneers: It lies next door to the Museum of
    national costumes and folklore. Originally a house built in the old Baghdadi style in 1909, it holds the numerous works of over 20 artists whose paintings and drawings before 1949 laid the foundation of the modern Iraqi art movement.

  • Museum of natural history: This Museum has grown into a
    Research Institute because its rich collection and library with more than 26000 books constitute an extraordinary basis of fundamental research.


Situated to the east of Baghdad, it is one of the governorates of central Iraq, and is famed for its palm groves and fruit orchards, especially its citrus trees. Arab historians in the old days mentioned it innumerable trees and plentiful waters. The center of the Governorate is Baquba, some 66 kms, away from Baghdad. This area is one of the most important in Iraq because of its ancient culture. Many archaeological tells have been identified, indicating early settlements that date back to the Al Ubaid period, about six thousand years ago, the old Babylonian age, and the dawn dynasties. Our archaeological information here was derived from the excavations conducted before World War 1. Further information has come to us from the more recent extensive excavations conducted at the start of the implementation of Himreen irrigation dam. The earlier digs revealed temples and places in ancient cities such as Tell Asmar (ancient Ishnunna), capital of the Ishnunna Kingdom, which flourished in the old Babylonian era. Also discovered here was the Khafaji site (ancient Tutoup), distinguished by its elliptical temple, about 15 kms, away from the old Diyala bridge. Thousands of clay tablets and cylinder seals were found here, all belonging to the Babylonian period and the age of the dawn of the dynasties.
Geographically and culturally important, the area kept its prominent position throughout the various Islamic eras.

Throughout the administrative centers of Diyala governorate you will find many privately owned hotels and casinos, together with tourist complexes, social clubs, excursion gardens, children’s playgrounds sports fields, modern markets, bookshops, public halls, cinemas and post offices.

Situated near Baghdad Governorate, it is in central Iraq. It used to be called “Dulaim Liwa”, after the famed Dulaim tribes which mostly lived in it, and later it was called “Ramadi Liwa” after its main town, which is today the center of the governorate. Ramadi itself is a comparatively recent city, built by the Ottoman Wali of Baghdad Madhat Pasha (1869 – 1872). It is 105 kms north west of Baghdad. The present name of the governorate belongs to the old historic town of Anbar, 5 kms north of Faluja. Its unique ruins are still visible here and there, some of them surrounded by an old mud-brick wall.
Anbar flourished in pre-Islamic times. The historian Amianus Marceline's referred to it in A.D. 363 as the second most important city in Iraq after Ctesiphon. It acquired special significance in Islamic times when the Arab Leader Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqqas built in it the third large mosque and later when Abul Abbas Al saffah, founder of the Abbasid dynasty, made it his capital in A.D. 752. Abu Ja’far Al mansour lived in it for some time before moving his capital to Hashimiya, near Kufa, and thence to Baghdad after he had built it.
Other major towns in Anbar governorate are Faluja, Heet, Haditha and Ana.
Any one visits this governorate must pay a visit to Habaniya lake and tourist village.


Mosul, the City of two springs (Autumn and Spring are very much alike in this city). It is also called Al Hadba, Al Faiha, and Al khadra.
Mosul is north largest city and major center of trade, industry and communications. It has second largest university in Iraq. 400 km from Baghdad, it is linked with the capital by an excellent high way, railways with a regular daily trips, and daily regular flights.
The city has been continuously inhabited since Assyrian times. Long before Islam, a number of Arab tribes had settled in it. It is rich in historical places, castles, mosques, churches, monasteries and schools.

At a distance of 73 kms from Mosul lies Duhok at an opening in the mountain also called Duhok. It is known nationwide for its vast vineyards and excellent grapes, figs and pomegranates. The area is rich in scenic beauty, where nature is lavish with water and vegetation. There are several sites and summer resorts in it.
Before getting to it the visitor will see an old tell with the ruins of a castle, an indication of an ancient settlement, which probably, dates back to Assyrian times.

It is famous with its walnut trees particularly in Biyara and Twaila. These two villages are also famed, apart from natural beauty, for their vineyards. The oldest cultural settlement in this area goes back to Paleolithic times. When written history begins we find that the Assyrians called Sulaymania and Shahrazour plain by the name of “Samwa”. In Derbandhawa, Kara Dagh Mountains, the Akkadian king Naram sin (2291-2255) immortalized his victory over the enemy in a famous stela of great artistry.

It is the most important place in the world for the study of the culture of Neanderthal man, 3500 – 70,000 years ago. Cunei-form inscriptions suggest that Arbil was a very well known towards the end of the 3rd millennium B.C. Syrian inscriptions of the second millennium refer to it as Urbilum or Arbilum. In Assyrian and Babylonian texts it is called Arba ilu (the four gods). The city is almost half way between Mosul and Kirkuk: 86 km away from the former, 93 from the latter.

About 74 years after the foundation of Baghdad, the Abbasid caleph Al mu’tasim moved his capital north to the newly built city of Samarra, in A.D. 836. Its heyday however was under Caliph Al mutawakkil (A.D. 847 – 861) The remains of the ancient Samarra are visible along the eastern bank of the Tigris, stretching south of the modern city for nearly 35 kms: the great mosque, the spiral minaret, Balkwara palace, ma’shouq palace etc.

This governorate played a major role in man’s early history, from early Paleolithic times (100,000 years ago) in Parda Balka, down to the Neolithic age (8,000 years ago).
The earliest farming village in the world, where man learned to plant seeds for the first time, is Jarmo, near Chamchamal in this part of Iraq. Another spot of ancient historical interest in Nuzi Yorgan Tappeh, 25 kms. To the south east of Kirkuk, the center of the governorate, where excavators discovered dwellings, a temple, a palace, cuneiform inscriptions of a legal and economic nature, all of which go back to the middle of the second millennium B.C. This period was noted for its particularly fine pottery, which has been called after the village. Even more ancient traces here go back to the Sumerians and Akkadians, who called the town Ga-Sur. It was here that the most ancient map in the world was found – it belonged to the Akkadian Era, 4,300 years ago.
In Kirkuk you will see the castle, one of its oldest extant monuments, as well as the eternal fire at Baba Gurgur.


Hilla is the center of the governorate of Babel. A modern city in an
ancient and historical environment. It is called “Alfaiha’” for her
Green orchard and palm groves.
Hilla is 100 kilometers to the south-west of Baghdad; it is linked with the capital by an excellent high way and railways with regular daily trips from Baghdad and Basrah.

In Hilla on the river front, there is a casino in the middle of a cast garden 15,000 square meters in area.

It lies 102 kms, away from Baghdad, 78 kms away from Najaf and 45 kms, away from Hilla. The city has 250 room Hawra hotel, as well as the 250 room Kerbala tourist hotel.

“Najaf”, the holy city of imam Ali Bin Abi Talib, the center of the governorate, lies 60 kms south of Hilla. One of Islam’s most important seats of religious instruction, Najaf has many schools where Arabic grammar, theology, history and literature are taught. Thousands of pilgrims visit the city annually. A tourist 250 room hotel has been put up in Najaf.


Samawa the centre of the governorate is famous for its Lake Sawa.

Nasiriya the centre of the governorate lies 208 Kms from Basrah and 375 Kms from Bagdad. It is famous for its magnificent marsh lands and specially “Hor Al-hammar”, which suffered extensive drainage schemes by the late reign. Nasirya which is about 15 kms from Ur has a big rest house for tourists.

As you tour the south, perhaps before going into the fantastic marshes, it would be a good thing to go to Kut the centre of wasit governorate which was named after ancient city “Wasit “ which lies amidst its ruins. Kut, which lies 172 kms to the south of Baghdad on the Tigris, is also famous for its dam which was built in the last century to control irrigation and water of Gharaf and Tigris rivers.

The centre of the governorate is the beautiful city of “Amara” which lies on the Tigris some 366 kms from Baghdad, and 182 kms north of Basra. It is famous with its marshes, like all other southern governorates. Hunting, water fowling is a very much practiced sport during Autumn and winter. Meesan has vegetable oil, detergents, paper and sugar factories.

Diwaniya the center of the governorate lies 181 kms from Baghdad on the Euphrates. It had its name after the Battle of Qadisiya where Saad Bin Abi Waqqas had beaten the Persian army in a decisive battle. Diwaniya is famous for its orchards and palm groves.

Basra, the pearl of the Gulf and the bride of Shatt al Arab, a modern city, yet her name goes deep in history. Her criss-crossed streets, water ways and canals make her the “Venice of the East”. The beautiful gardens, and its old Islamic architecture give the impression that it is an old city with a modern spirit. The city is made up of three main residential areas: Basra proper, Margil and Ashar, the last particularly interesting for the curiosities that fill its Bazaars.


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