Known for its iconic citadel and minaret, Erbil is Kurdistan’s largest city and capital. Today it is a kaleidoscope of historical and contemporary Kurdistan. The city was founded around 6000BC, making it one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. Once the centre of Syriac Christianity, It has since seen many changes in rule.
Kurdish open-hearted, hospitable and courteous culture will make any visitor feel they are taking a trip among friends. With Luxury hotels, breath-taking scenery, merging historical sites and modern developments, together with alluring restaurants, one is guaranteed a pleasant experience in Erbil.
Understandably Erbil has been named the tourism capital of the Middle East for 2014.
The citadel is Erbil’s oldest and arguably most charming feature. An impressive edifice rising 30 meters high above the city centre, the 100,000 square meter oval structure is believed to be one of the oldest towns in history.
An exterior staircase allows visitors to climb to the top for a panoramic view of the city, Erbil’s clock tower and Shar Park Square. Within the citadel wall itself is a textile museum, an ancient mosque and Hammams (bathing rooms) dating back to the 18th Century.
The Choli Minaret is perhaps Erbil’s most distinct feature. The 36 m high cylindrical shaft made of baked bricks sits on an octagonal base. Constructed during the rule of Sultan Mudhaffar Al-Din around 1128-1138AD, today the minaret functions as the centre piece in the Minare Park . This historic stature is decorated in bands of Hazarbaf motifs – meaning ‘a thousand weaves’ and sculpted in Kufi calligraphy.
The Textile Museum of Erbil stands on the site of one of the most famous edifices in Erbil: the Citadel. A compact, but fascinating, vicinity home to ancient textile materials. The museum reflects the textile work of traditional carpet weaver techniques. Year-round, you can find merchants near the museum selling anything from books, woven rugs, satchels and other textile souvenirs.
Erbil Civilization Museum
Housed in the city centre, the museum features an array of artefacts from ancient periods. Such as coins, various antiques, paintings, statues, and archaeological remains from Erbil and its surrounding areas. The museum is home to paintings and memorabilia dating back as far a 5000BC.
Shanidar Art Gallery
Situated in Shanidar Park, the gallery features art exhibitions predominantly by local students. The collection also includes art work of local artists, who often give visitors an insight into local art work and Kurdish traditions.
Sami Abdul-Rahman Park
The Sami Abdul-Rahman Park we know today is a masterpiece of landscape design and planning. For much of its history it was large military complex under Saddam Hussain’s rule.
The Sami Abdul-Rahman Park is the largest park area in Erbil and offers a wide variety of activities, as well as an amphitheatre, and many cafes and restaurants. The landscape stretching over a couple hundred acres is perfect for sports and has sports facilities within the grounds. The park is a great place to stroll and enjoy a break from the hectic city. Set amid green lush lawns, the park offers a lake with boat rides available; several play areas for children, as well as flower gardens, as well as benches for relaxing.
This large park is the most beautiful in the city and contains a massive monument that once functioned as a minaret overlooking Erbil. Minare Park undoubtedly hosts Erbils most architecturally stunning landscapes. The Name, Minare Park, comes from the Minaret which the park is built around. The park offers pleasant walks down tree-lines paths, eye-catching columns, water-fountains, and in the evening it lights up to become an urban lit wonderland.
Perhaps the most popular of all of Erbil’s parks. Busy with locals, in particular around sunset during the summer months this park offers a multitude of cafes and kiosks offering refreshments. The parks most distinct feature is a fortress-like edifice with its all encompassing waterfalls and nearby lake.
Erbil is an ideal destination for shopping, here are some popular shopping malls
After a long day in the sun, comes the best time to visit Erbils renowned Qeyssari Bazzar, just below the entrance of the citadel. These Qeysaris are typical throughout Kurdistan – a maze of sheltered alleys with multiple entrances. Gift shops are in abundance, you’ll also find a diverse set of stalls and boutiques lining the narrow alleys, offering colourful materials for traditional dresses, illuminating gold jewellery shops, souvenirs, and traditional local made Kurdish food such as cheeses, honey, sweets and bread, as well as other generic household goods. Join the local crowds for a bazaar haggling experience as well as watching local craftsmen at work.
This is the largest shopping and entertainment complex in Erbil. International brand-names, and other multinational shopping chains can be found in Family Mall, as well as many other local shopping boutiques. The price tag range is just as vast as range of shops, so satisfying the wallet of every visitor. The Mall has a multi-screen cinema and internal ice-rink, and an international food court to appetise all.
For a modern shopping experience, Majidi Mall doesn’t disappoint. Offering an array of upmarket cafes, famour designer brands, and elegant boutiques Majidi Mall has it all. One of the largest shopping complexes in the region, it stands in a stunning architectural landscape. In interior is equally as impressive. When it comes to style and clothing, it caters for every budget.
New City Mall
New City Mall is a modern holiday shoppers paradise with lively outlets offering boutiques and high end shopping – cosmetics, perfumes, toiletries and fashion. Whatever you’re looking for you’re sure to find it there.