Erbil

Travel Guide Middle East Iraq Erbil

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Introduction

Erbil is a city in the north of Iraq. It is located in the Kurdish part that was relatively safe until lately. In July 2014, Erbil Citadel was inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

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Sights and Activities

  • Citadel of Erbil (قهڵای ههولێر, Qelay Hewlêr) (City Center). The Citadel an WV-Unesco-icon-small.svg UNESCO World Heritage site in the centre of the city. It is a round structure, 30 metres high which dominates the old city and has been built upon seven layers of civilization. The total area of the Citadel is 110,000 m². The history of its building dates back to 6,000 years and has been continuously inhabited since its founding. The citadel has seen the reign of many historic civilizations including Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians. Other ancient powers including the Achaemenian, Seljuks, and Sassanians also dominated the Citadel before being finally conquered by the Muslims. The Citadel of Erbil consists of three main quarters: Topkhana, Saray, and Taki, with a total of 605 houses in the areas. Picturesque view from the upper floors of the opposite shopping center. As of November 2014 the Citadel was undergoing a major restoration. While visitors can walk to the top and see the main square and road, the back streets are blocked off. Construction and excavation make the views much less picturesque, and mosques were closed.
  • Grand Mosque (The Citadel). Erbil's historic central mosque, still open despite renovations on the Citadel.
  • Kurdish Textile Museum (متحف المنسوجات الكردية) (In the Citadel), ☎ +964-66-25 11 660, e-mail: info@kurdishtextilemuseum.com. 09:00-17:30. Small museum that displays textiles produced in Iraqi Kurdistan, as well as traditional clothing and other artifacts. Located in a restored early-twentieth century traditional house. Free entrance.
  • Mudhafaria Minaret (Minaret Park, several blocks from the citadel). The 36 m high Mudhafaria Minaret dates back to the late 12th century AD and the reign of Erbil king Muzaffar Al-Din Abu Sa’eed Al-Kawkaboori. It has an octagonal base decorated with two tiers of niches, which is separated from the main shaft by a small balcony, also decorated. Another historical minaret with turquoise glazed tiles is nearby.
  • Quayseri Market (Across the street from South Gate of Citadel). Erbil's historic covered bazaar, built out of vaulted yellow brick. It is similar to many others found throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but with less tourism than most. Market stalls sell everything from cheap toys and pirated DVDs to bulk spices to fine jewelry and carpets.
  • Jalil Khayat Mosque (60 Meter Road, across from Royal Mall). Erbil's largest mosque, built in 2007 in a neo-Ottoman Style. Very impressive inside.
  • Hawler Museum.
  • Erbil Civilization Museum (Municipality Street, near Francoise Haririr Stadium, 1 km from the Citadel). Small archaeological museum run by the Erbil Governorate.The Erbil Civilization Museum is in the city center opposite the City Hall. It is divided into three historical sections. Antiques are exhibited according to eras starting from ancient periods until advanced ages. The origin of some exhibits goes back to 5000 BC and reflects the patterns and ways of life in Kurdistan and Iraq. A rich library is adjacent to the museum. It is considered among the most prestigious and historical libraries of the city.
  • Mound of Qalich Agha. An excavation here in 1996 found tools from the Halaf, Ubaid and Uruk periods. On the grounds of Erbil Civilization Museum.
  • Jalil Khayat Mosque (جامع جليل الخياط). The largest mosque in Erbil, named after Jalil Khayat who took the initiative for construction, but passed away in 2005 before it could be completed. His sons finished the project in 2007. The mosque architecturally resembles the style of the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in Cairo, and the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. It is widely regarded as having one of the most beautiful interiors. It relies on a combination of islamic architecture and al-Abbasi design, except for the domes which are of Ottoman design. Standing 48 m tall, the main dome with a diameter of 20 m dominates the mosque. It is surrounded by 4 half domes and 12 quarter domes. With an area of 15 000 m², the mosque has a capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 visitors.

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Weather

Erbil's climate is a hot-summer Mediterranean climate, with extremely hot summers and mild wet winters. January is the wettest month.

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Getting There

By Plane

Erbil International Airport is one of Iraq's busiest airports and is near the city. Services includes direct flights to many domestic destinations as well as flights to international destinations in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.

Istanbul, Ankara, Vienna, Doha, Dubai and Frankfurt have regular connections but some destinations are suspended since 2014 ( most have resumed now).
There are no buses to the airport, the official taxi company is quite expensive, but there is a free shuttle bus to the parking area where you find (or on the way to the exit, as they are not allowed to wait there) a regular taxi.

By Bus

Buses travel to many Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish cities. Most long distance buses leave now from a big bus terminal close to the Family Mall about 4 kilometres northeast of the centre.

There are many Iranian bus companies that run services connecting Iran to Erbil. This is about 916 kilometres or 10 hours.There are many cities in Iran that connected to Erbil by bus including Tehran, Isfahan, Tabriz, Shiraz, Kurdistan , and Ahwaz. The VIP buses travel from Tehran to Erbil every day, 2 buses per day. If you take move by bus to Erbil, you should stop in Piranshahr city, at the Iran-Iraq border, to show your passport. If you have an Iranian passport, you don't need a visa to cross the border.

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Getting Around

Public transportation is available in the form of taxis and some bus routes, but automobiles are the main mode of transportation. Compared with other cities in the Middle East, shared taxis and buses are very infrequent and impractical. If you don't know your way around or have a guide with local knowledge it is inadvisable to try public transporation alone.

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Eat

Many good restaurants exist in Erbil. However, the vast majority serve kebabs and chicken, with some Lebanese and Turkish restaurants. Options for foreign food are limited. Most restaurants, except those in high-end hotels, do not serve alcohol or accept credit cards.

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Drink

You can buy a wide variety of beer, wine, and liquor at pretty reasonable prices in Ainkawa, the Christian suburb of Irbil. Just look for any of the local liquor stores. A liter of Jack Daniels for about US$22 is cheaper than back in Tennessee where it is bottled! Remember that Erbil is a predominantly Muslim city: drinking in public is unacceptable and public drunkenness is frowned upon.

In addition, the bars at the major luxury hotels (such as the Divan and the Rotana) are popular gathering spots.

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Sleep

The cheapest accomodations are around €30.

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Keep Connected

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

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Contributors

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This is version 13. Last edited at 16:02 on Jan 10, 19 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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