Iraq, my dear readers, is not only known for its historical richness but is also a perfect amalgamation of natural beauty, authentic cuisine, and traditionalism. Once known as Mesopotamia, Iraq stands tall and proud today as an emerging tourist hub. It is not only the land of the two rivers, Tigris, and Euphrates, but also the land of two civilizations, the Mesopotamian and Islamic. In this article, I would like to take you through a journey of Iraq, a luxurious adventure amidst rich cultural heritage.
The Rise of Iraq:
Ancient Iraq had some of the world's earliest civilizations including the Sumerian, Babylonian, and the Assyrian empires. These empires brought forth significant contributions in mathematics, philosophy, astronomy, and medicine. The country grew up to be the center for trade routes, and also a hub for diverse cultures where scholars and traders met and exchanged ideas. This civilization enriched Iraq with its traditions and legends, and I would take you to explore its monuments that stand testimony to the past.
Monuments and Museums:
Iraq's monuments and museums are some of the vastest in the world. Let us take a virtual tour of these places.
- The ziggurat, Etemenanki, stands tall amidst modern-day ruins. This was once considered the most magnificent wonder of the world; today, it is accessible and awe-inspiring.
- To know the Islamic era of Iraq, one must visit the Samarra Archaeological City. This is one of the largest archaeological sites in the world, home to the Al-Askari Shrine, a center for Islamic theology that once drew millions of pilgrims every year. The city boasts of a vast archaeological museum, where you can see original artifacts, designs, and other rare items.
- If you want to know about the Babylonian civilization, Babylon is the place where the Hanging Garden of Babylon once stood. This would be a pinch of history and fun together.
- The Ancient City of Hatra, now a UNESCO World Heritage site, showcases the architecture of the Parthians, and their culture is manifested through various artifacts, including military and carving tools. The little windows and walls, and ancient structures are breathtakingly beautiful and tell us volumes about the timelessness of Iraqi cultures.
Nature at its Best:
Iraq brings forth the best of nature with lush green landscapes and natural hot springs. Amidst the scorching heat, one can find serenity at these natural destinations.
- The Shaqlawa Mountain Resort is an abode for leisure amidst nature. Located near the Qara Dagh Mountain Range, the resort offers a pleasant climate during summers and is known for skiing in winters.
- Kadhimiya, a city in Iraq, boasts natural hot water springs, which is perfect to soak in after a day of sightseeing.
- If you are a desert lover, then visit the Western Desert, where you can pick from the Mesopotamian basins, Aqaba Trench, and the Syrian Desert.
Iraqi cuisine is as unique as its culture. With its strong Middle Eastern influence, the food of Iraq is wholesome and delicious.
- Being a rice-lover, I was smitten by the local delicacy called Masgouf, a dish grilled fish dish that is marinated and cooked to perfection.
- Another delicacy that one must not miss is the Iraqi Kibbeh, at its core is minced meat and bulgur wheat, every family recipe differs to bring out unique taste and flavor.
- Iraqi Shawarma is also becoming increasingly popular among foodies in prominent cities. A wrap exclusively made of lamb meat, it is flavorful and packs a punch of taste.
With the rise of tourism, there have been several five-star accommodations built-in Iraq to cater to the tourists.
- The Babylon Hotel, built on the banks of the Euphrates River, is a five-star property worth staying in. The luxurious amenities include a swimming pool, a fitness center, a spa, and much more. This property boasts of river-facing rooms, and views of the famous Iraqi victory arch.
- The Sheraton Baghdad Hotel has hosted several famous personalities in the past, and is an ideal location for conferences, weddings, and other events. The plush suites and rooms overlook the lush manicured lawns or the popular Zawraa Park.
Iraq, once known as the cradle of civilization, is slowly emerging as a tourist hub. With its vast and varied tourist destinations, it is an abode for luxury and authenticity. What one takes back, is not only the memories of the indelible experience, but also the comeliness of the culture and the consciousness of the civilization to which Iraq is home. An adventurous trip to Iraq must be on your bucket list, for sure it will be an experience of a lifetime.