Official language: Arabic, Kurdish
Time zone: UTC +3
Currency: Iraqi dinar (IQD)
How do Sulaymaniyah residents relax? They go to one of the city’s parks, lay blankets and just have a nice time chatting with friends.
When it comes to a city like Sulaymaniyah, it’s impossible to pinpoint one, five or even ten eateries worth visiting. Go wherever you see a lot of clients and surely you’ll get a delicious homemade meal.
Two hours north of the city there is a huge lake. The view is literally breath-taking. Residents of nearby cities are happy to come here to rest.
At the end of the 18th century, an overpopulated capital of the principality of Baban was moved to the small village. All of the most important national offices had had its headquarters here for almost another century – until the principality was conquered again and incorporated into the Ottoman Empire. For a brief moment in the 1920’s the city was raised to the rank of the capital of Kurdistan Kingdom. Today, it is one of the Iraqi cities in the autonomous Kurdistan Region.
For several years the Iraqi government had been trying to diminish the city’s importance. The name of “Sulaymaniyah” had been changed and the university moved to Erbil (it was regained 11 years later). Also, the Kurdish language managed to last the time of trial and today – along with Arabic – it is an official language of the administrative area.
To get a closer look at the complicated history of this region, step into the Amna Suraka Museum. Founded in 2000, located in buildings that were previously used as a prison by Saddam Husain regime's intelligence service, the museum holds evidence of the atrocities committed against the Kurdish people, the cells and interrogation rooms. If you are a fan of more ancient history, be sure to visit the Sulaymaniyah Museum – the second biggest museum in Iraq, where you can see artifacts of Persian and Kurdish culture that date back to the 18th century B.C.
The place in Sulaymaniyah where all the locals do their shopping is the Great Bazaar on Mawlawi St. The name is not ambiguous – the market is enormous and, as usual in Iraqi markets, you can really buy everything here; fruit and vegetable, animal heads, clothes, jewelry, books, home appliances… If you get hungry, follow your nose to the food stands serving baked snacks.
200 meters north of the bazaar you will find the main point in the city – The Great Mosque whose characteristic turquoise domes are visible from far away. It’s open to the public and differs slightly from the well-known mosques – it has a simpler, modern shape and only richly decorated domes remind us that it is a temple.