Official language: Arabic, Kurdish
Time zone: UTC +3
Currency: Iraqi dinar (IQD)
Although it is not obligatory to hold a visa while traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan, it is worth getting one, even if you do not plan to go abroad.
Erbil, Irbil, Arbil, and Hawler – these names all refer to the same city and you are likely to hear them all while your stay in the capital of Kurdistan.
Even today in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region there are followers of Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion that Judaism and Christianity are believed to have grown from.
Erbil is the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan Region. Having survived tough years of warfare that took place throughout the country, it is finally regaining its former splendor. Learn more about this thriving, safe, wealthy, and extraordinarily hospitable city.
The area of nowadays’ Kurdistan is considered by the archaeologists the cradle of civilization; the Christians believe that the Three Wise Men set out from here for Bethlehem. Despite this impressive historical heritage, Kurdistan lacks numerous perfectly maintained monuments to visit. In the city center, you will find the oldest and the most precious building that dates back to 6000 BC – the citadel. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the structure is unavailable for sightseeing due to its poor condition. You can tour only two reconstructed buildings thanks to which the monument is likely to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
You will find the Great Mosque in a much better condition. It enchants all visitors with its dimensions and decorativeness. You should also consider going to the Museum of Civilization to see ancient, extremely precious exhibits dating back even to 5000 BC. Step into the Minare or Rahmani park for cool shades, fountains, and ponds. On non-working days, you will surely meet Kurds having picnics there.
Things to eat in Kurdistan? Most of all: dolma – a dish of grapevine leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice, and onion and stewed in tomatoes, eggplants, and pepper. You should also get a taste of delicious biryani – made of minced poultry and lamb meat, rice, potatoes, almonds, and raisins. Main courses are usually served with thin naan bread. When it comes to street food, be sure to try kubba, deep-fried elongated rice-and-meatballs, and kebabs (served here probably due to the proximity of Turkey) that come with Ayran, a salty beverage made of yogurt and water. And if you have a sweet tooth, order kulicha – yeast cakes stuffed with dactyls and nuts.