Iraq- Eight Days Cultural Tour in Iraqi Kurdistan
The cultural tour ready for you in Iraq will require place in the autonomous province of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi Kurdistan is a fascinating place of sheer beauty, warm and friendly people along with a rich and challenging history. Although located in the northern part of Iraq, it’s in many ways a world apart. Largely unknown or traditionally avoided by Western tourists, we feel this region is an absolute gem within the making and that now is the time to go to before the crowds discover this hidden world.
Discover landscapes of breathtaking beauty, in the deserts in the south to the mountains within the north and east. We’ll have an opportunity to familiarise ourselves using the Kurdish identity and culture and also the often painful and tragic good reputation for a people that has withstood repeated repression. We’ll also be encountering the minorities who inhabit these lands and help weave this magnificent human tapestry. A lot more than 4000 years ago, Assyria began a procedure that was to leave its imprint around the Middle East as a whole. Fourteen centuries later, Medes, Babylonians and Scythians opened a brand new chapter. We will be following within the traces of a forgotten background and discovering the signs of a cultural renaissance.
Day 1: Paris to Erbil
Paris: meet in the airport and flight to Erbil (not direct). Night in Erbil.
Day 2: Erbil to Dohuk
Morning departure for that site of Bavian or Khans. There you will notice Assyrian sculptures considered to be the most important remains within the Badinan region. They were part of among the summer palaces of Sennacherib, King of Assyria within the 7th century BC. We’ll continue on to Dohuk and go to the Charsteen cave on the “White Mountain” north of Dohuk. You would have it to date back to the Furthian era, as shown by the pottery remains discovered on its roof.
Around the right-hand side of the cave is visible five symbols etched in to the stone, probably denoting the gods from the Sun and the Moon, Ishtar, Mitrwa and Zrwan. We’ll then travel to Amadiyah, a small Assyrian hilltop fortress. The trade caravans mainly originated from Mosul and entered the city with the western gate, which bears exactly the same signs and symbols as those discovered in Babylon. The origins of the gate are attributed to King Naram-Sin (2254 – 2218 BC). Before going back to Dohuk, we will stop at Arader and go to the church of Sultan Mahadouht. This church particularly houses tombs of the Assyrian period.
Day 3: Dohuk
We visit Al Gara mountain and go to the remains of one of the former palaces of Bottom, today abandoned. Then on to Zakho, several kilometres from the Turkish border. The indication of Zakho, is the Delal bridge, also called the Abbassid bridge due to the presumed period during which it had been built from large hewn stones. It crosses the Khabor river in a height of more than fifteen metres. A brief history of the construction of this bridge remains unclear as no symbols, signs or writing offer any precise identification of their date.
Day 4: Dohuk – Erbil
Departure for Al Qush, the house town of the prophet Nahum, the seventh from the twelve minor prophets. His ministry ran from 650 to 612 BC, simultaneously as Jeremiah, and he predicted the destruction of Nineveh. The synagogue of Al Qush offers the tomb of the prophet. In 1948, most people in the Jewish community left the town and also the synagogue was abandoned. The site is today protected through the church, but has not been Christianised and stays as it was originally built. The Rabban Hormizd monastery, that was one of the spiritual centres from the Church of the Orient, dominates the village of Al Qush. Over time of significant spiritual influence, this monastery- that was home in the 7th century towards the hermit Rabban Hormizd has been abandoned for centuries.
Day 5: Erbil – Suleimaniyah
Departure for Suleimaniyah, a town close to the Iranian border. En-route, halt at Koya – previously known at Kakon. The town was an important stopping point for that caravans. The town is today an industrial, cultural and educational centre of Kurdish life that likes a considerable reputation; numerous artists, poets and politicians originate from there. You will be able to walk with the traditional alleyways of the town and visit Mar Bena monastery, bombarded when Bottom was in power. The building happens to be being rebuilt according to the original plans. Also, trip to the Ottoman fortress, the 1700s caravanserai and the old mosque.
Day 6: Suleimaniyah – Erbil
Suleimaniyah began at the end of the 18th century, under Baban rule. The Babans would play an important political, economic and social role in the area. Walk through the town and its wide boulevards lined with trees and imposing villas. The city places particular emphasis on promoting Kurdish culture. The university houses a Kurdish cultural centre and something of its faculties is dedicated to Kurdish language studies. Visit to the archaeological museum. Continuation towards the monastery of Bazyan (5th – 6th centuries). The excavations that began later have revealed a number of coins, two crucifixes Body of mosaic and one of bronze, two tombs and Sassanid style mosaics (5th century). On the highway back to Erbil, visit to the sculpted caves at Qazqapan.
Day 7: Erbil
Day spent visiting Erbil, the main city of Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous federal region of Northern Iraq. Erbil, Arba Ilu” the town of the four gods, was the religious capital from the Assyrian kingdom and in it can be present in particular the temple of Ishtar (goddess of love and fertility). The name of Erbil is also linked to the famous battle of Gaugamela where Alexander defeated Darius III. The day will start with a visit to the Al Khayat mosque. It had been built about three years ago and it is the largest mosque in Iraq and also the main gathering place for the Muslim community in Iraqi Kurdistan. Erbil established fact for its citadel, covering ten hectares, which from the height of about thirty metres dominates the plain. Its first occupants used residence in the 6th millennium BC and also the place also provided shelter because of its inhabitants during the numerous invasions and wars which marked a brief history of the region.
Day 8: Erbil – Paris
Morning departure to go to Khanzad castle and then Raban Boya monastery in Shaqlawa. Transfer to Erbil airport and flight to Paris (not direct).