This Might Change Your Views About Iraq

Here are the top places to visit and things to do in Iraq

Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. On 30 July 762 the caliph Al Mansur commissioned the construction of the city and it was built under the supervision of the Barmakids. Mansur believed that Baghdad was the perfect city to be the capital of the Islamic empire under the Abbasids. Mansur loved the site so much he is quoted saying, "This is indeed the city that I am to found, where I am to live, and where my descendants will reign afterward". Most Iraqi reconstruction efforts have been devoted to the restoration and repair of badly damaged urban infrastructure. More visible efforts at reconstruction through private development, like architect and urban designer Hisham N. Ashkouri's Baghdad Renaissance Plan and the Sindbad Hotel Complex and Conference Center have also been made.

National Museum of Iraq
National Museum of Iraq (المتحف العراقي). Covering the history of Mesopotamian culture, this museum housed a huge collection before the Iraq War. Today, many pieces have been looted and the museum is only open on special occasions.

Babylon was an Akkadian city-state founded in 1867 BC by an Amorite dynasty of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babylon Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers (55 mi) south of Baghdad. In the mid-7th century AD Mesopotamia was invaded and settled by the Arabs who brought with them Islam. A period of Arabisation and Islamification followed. Babylon was dissolved as a province and Aramaic and Church of the East Christianity eventually became marginalised, although both still exist today more so however among the Assyrians of northern Iraq as does Mandeanism. A Babylonian/Mesopotamian/Assyrian identity is still espoused by the ethnically indigenous Mesopotamian and Eastern Aramaic speaking members of the Chaldean Catholic Church and Assyrian Church of the East to this day. Kasr also called Palace or Castle. It is the location of the Neo-Babylonian ziggurat Etemenanki of Nabopolassar and later Nebuchadnezzar and lies in the center of the site.

Kurdistan is located in Iraq. Various groups, among them the Guti, Hurrian , Mannai (Mannaeans), and Armenians had lived in this region in antiquity. The original Mannaean homeland was situated east and south of the Lake Urmia, roughly centered around modern-day Mahabad. The Medes came under Persian rule during the reign of Cyrus the Great and Darius. At the end of the First Gulf War, the Allies established a safe haven in northern Iraq. Amid the withdrawal of Iraqi forces from three Northern provinces, Iraqi Kurdistan emerged in 1992 as an autonomous entity inside Iraq with its own local government and parliament. There is a 4,000 year old castle right in the middle of the Kurdistan regional Capital, Hawler (also known as Erbil). Hawler is one of the world's contenders for the most ancient continuously inhabited city, having a history stretching back to the days of ancient Babylon.

The ruins of the Ctesiphon city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia, Iraq. Ctesiphon fell to the Muslims during the Islamic conquest of Persia in 637 under the military command of Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqqas during the caliphate of Umar. However, the general population was not harmed but the palaces and their archives were burned. Still, as political and economic fortune had passed elsewhere, the city went into a rapid decline, especially after the founding of the Abbasid capital at Baghdad in the 8th century, and soon became a ghost town. It is believed to be the basis for the city of Isbanir in the Thousand and One Nights. Today, Ctesiphon the ancient capital of the Parthian and Sassanid Empires left us with magnificent, towering ruins, most notably of the magnificent Arch of Ctesiphon; just across the Tigris is the archaeological site of the ancient Hellenistic city of Seleucia.

Hatra is an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. Hatra was founded by Ancient Arab tribes sometime in the 3rd century BCE. A religious and trading centre under the Parthian empire of Iran, it flourished during the 1st and 2nd centuries BCE. Later on, the city became the capital of possibly the first Arab Kingdom in the chain of Arab cities running from Hatra, in the northeast, via Palmyra, Baalbek and Petra, in the southwest. The region controlled from Hatra was the Kingdom of Araba, a semi-autonomous buffer kingdom on the western limits of the Parthian Empire of Iran, governed by Arabian princes. Currently, Hatra is a UNESCO World Heritage site, these incredibly well preserved Parthian city off in the desert are quite possibly Iraq's most magnificent ruins.

Ur was an important city-state in ancient Sumer located at the site of modern Tell el-Muqayyar in Iraq's Dhi Qar Governorate. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of an early occupation at Ur during the Ubaid period. These early levels were sealed off with a sterile deposit that was interpreted as evidence for the Great Flood of the Bible by excavators of the 1920s. It is now understood that the South Mesopotamian plain was exposed to regular floods from the Euphrates and the Tigris, with heavy erosion from water and wind. The further occupation of Ur only becomes clear during its emergence in the third millennium BC. The site today is marked by the ruins of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, which contained the shrine of Nanna, excavated in the 1930s. The temple was built in the 21st century BC (short chronology), during the reign of Ur-Nammu and was reconstructed in the 6th century BC by Nabonidus.

Arbil is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan. Arbela was an early center of the Syriac Christianity. By 100 AD there was a bishop seated in the city. As many modern Assyrians use Biblical (including Jewish) names, most of the early bishops had Jewish/Biblical names, which does not suggest that many of the early Christians in this city were converts from Judaism. Arbil is home to The Erbil Citadel, City Center. The Citadel sits in the middle of Erbil City. It is a round structure, 30 meters high which dominates the old city and has been built upon seven layers of civilization. The total area of the Citadel is 110,000 square meters.

Basra is a port city in the Lower Mesopotamia region of southern Iraq. The present city was founded in 636 as an encampment and garrison for the Arab tribesmen constituting the armies of amir `Umar ibn al-Khattab, a few kilometres south of the present city, where a tell still marks its site. While defeating the Sassanid forces there, the Muslim commander Utbah ibn Ghazwan first set up camp there on the site of an Old Persian settlement called Vaheštābād Ardašīr, which was destroyed by the Arabs. Visit the old mosque of Basra, the first mosque in Islam outside the Arabian Peninsula.

Karbala is a city in Iraqi region of Lower Mesopotamia. It is considered one of the holiest cities in the country. Karbala's prominence in Shīa traditions is the result of the Battle of Karbala, fought on the site of the modern city on October 10, 680 AD (10 Muharram 61 AH). Both Hussein ibn Ali and his brother ʻAbbās ibn ʻAlī were buried by the local Banī Asad tribe at what later became known as the Mashhad Al-Hussein. The battle itself occurred as a result of Hussein's refusal to accept the Umayyad Yazid ibn Mu'awiya as caliph. The Kufan governor, Ubaydallah ibn Ziyad, sent thousands of horsemen against Hussein as he traveled to Kufa. It is home to the Imam Hussein Shrine. Karbala is famous as the site of the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali (Imam Hussein), and commemorations are held by millions of Shias annually to remember it. Karbala is considered sacred by all Shias. Visit the Imam Husayn Shrine (مقام الامام الحسين). It is one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, it contatins the grave of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the prophet Muhammad.


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