5 Reasons to Visit Iraqi Kurdistan
By: The PH Team
Iraqi Kurdistan is an autonomous region in northern Iraq. The region, also known as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, is home to its own government (the Kurdish Regional Government), military (the Peshmerga), judiciary system and is protected by the Iraqi constitution.
Unlike the rest of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan is regarded as safe for international tourists and has largely been spared from turmoil seen in other parts of Iraq and around the region. This is largely due to the success of the regional military in securing the region from outside threats.
Although it is home to a Kurdish majority, the region is also extremely diverse - both ethnically and religiously. The region is also more secular than the rest of Iraq, with alcohol being far more available to consumers, better women's rights and higher levels of tolerance between religions and ethnicities.
1) Hamilton Road
Between 1928 and 1932, Hamilton was the principal engineer of a British-built strategic road across Iraqi Kurdistan, which ran from Erbil, through Rawandiz, to the Iranian border near modern-day Piranshahr.
As a result, the road became known as the Hamilton Road. Although Hamilton hoped the road would unite the people of the region, it has been fought over many times. It has been called a masterpiece of engineering - even by today's standards.
Today, the road is a magnet for locals and tourists alike who wish to take in the beautiful nature of Iraqi Kurdistan in one drive across the country and tourists often opt to take a road trip through the entire road.
2) Erbil Citadel
The Erbil Citadel is located in the centre of modern-day Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Citadel is claimed to be one of the oldest, if not the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world.
The Citadel is an ancient mound, with buildings overlooking Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan. From the citadel, the lookout point overlooking the city of Erbil below is a great spot to take pictures or just relax and check out the modern and ancient views.
3) Saddam's Palaces
Over the course of Saddam Hussein's rule in Iraq, he built himself various palaces and homes around the country. Many of those homes, particularly summer homes, were built in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Once completely closed off, today the palaces and homes are open for curious tourists to come and better understand the turbulent history the region has had through the life of a past dictator.
4) Korek Mountain
Korek Mountain is a tourist attraction in Iraqi Kurdistan, with a 4 kilometer long cable car leading tourists from its Bekhal Bottom station to Mount Korek.
The mountain has been developed as an international destination. It is home to 132 villas and several rides, officially called "The Korek Mountain Resort & Spa".
Korek mountain also contains many restaurants and cafes. The resort is a summer retreat providing a cool getaway for those wishing to escape the heat.
During winters, it turns into a Ski Resort and is filled with Iraqi and international tourists.The resort has become one of the top 10 most-visited destinations in Iraqi Kurdistan.
5) Diversity of Iraqi Kurdistan
Not only is Iraqi Kurdistan the most diverse regions of Iraq, it is one of the most diverse regions in all of the Middle East!
Iraqi Kurdistan is home to people of many faiths including, Muslims (both Sunni and Shia), Christians, Yezidis, Zoroastrians, Jews, Sabian-Madeans and Yarsans. It is also home to many different ethnicities including; Kurds, Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkmen.
In addition, since Iraqi Kurdistan has largely been spared from conflict and turmoil present elsewhere in the region, it has become a safe haven for large numbers of Syrian and Iraqi refugees escaping war and persecution in those countries.