Add these to your Kurdistan travel list!

The northern Iraqi region is a true jewel of the middle east. It offers an array of cultural, historic and natural spots all within its secure borders. Here’s 5 of the top reasons why you should travel to Iraqi Kurdistan.

1. Lalish

There’s nowhere quite like Lalish. This is the holiest site of the Yazidi religion. The much persecuted Yazis are today spread across modern day Turkey, Syria and Iraq with significant populations worldwide. The temple at Lalish is the location of the tomb of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, a central figure of the Yazidi faith. All Yazidis are expected to make a pilgrimage to the site at least once in their life.

2. The Red Prison

The Red prison (Amna Suraka) once served as the Iraqi intelligence agencies’ HQ in Sulaymaniyah. It was used as a place of torture against the Kurdish population in the North. Today it’s left preserved as a museum and memorial to the thousands of Kurds imprisoned and killed there. The centrepiece is the incredible Hall of Mirrors which contains over a hundred thousand shards of glass. One for every victim of Saddam’s reign of terror against Kurdistan.

3. Halabja

Towards the end of the Iran – Iraq war in the late 1980s, Ali Hassan al-Majid under the direction of Saddam Hussein launched the Al-Anfal campaign against the Iraqi Kurdish civilian population. On 16th March 1988 he dropped chemical bombs on the city of Halabjah killing thousands and earning himself the nickname “Chemical Ali”. The city houses a beautiful visitor centre & memorial to the horrific crime.

4. Saddam's Palace

During his near 25 year reign, Saddam Hussein built dozens of palaces all over the country. It was quite simply an expression of power and authority. After the dictator fell in 2003, the locals & US marines ransacked a lot of these properties. Some were converted into makeshift leisure centres and basketball courts. One of his crown jewels lay on top of Gara mountain in central Kurdistan. All that remains today is a shell of what once was. It’s still well worth a visit because the 360 degree views of the surrounding valleys are spectacular.

5. Hamilton Road

In the early 1930s, New Zealand born engineer Archibald Hamilton constructed a road from Erbil to the Iranian border through mountains that were once considered impregnatable. The road has since been replaced with a modern highway that snakes through some incredible valleys making it Kurdistan’s ultimate road trip.

These 5 highlights should be at the top of any Kurdistan Travel list. We have tours to Kurdistan twice a year in April and October. Book your place today!

On an Iraq tour with Rocky Road Travel in Kurdistan