SAMPLE ITINERARIES

Here are a few sample itineraries developed by us and some tour operators, to give you an idea of what can be done. This should give some pointers, so that you can develop yours.
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SAMPLE ITINERARIES
 

Our research on tourism in Iraq has identified several sample itineraries that travelers can review to decide which particular type of package they prefer. There are religious, cultural, historic (Mesopotamia/Babylon) etc. We are sharing the following sample itineraries based on information gathered from various tour operators and friends and family members that have traveled to Iraq over the years. Travel to other cities can be undertaken, keeping in mind the security situation, travel conditions and local weather.

 
Note: The sequence of cities will vary based on your city of arrival and personal preference. Given the security situation in Baghdad currently, many tour operators recommend flying into Najaf airport and initiating the pilgrimage from there, rather than from Baghdad. Again, this is something that you will have to decide, since the situation on the group is very dynamic.
 
SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 14-DAY NAJAF, KARBALA, KADHMAIN AND SAMARRA TOUR
 
1. Najaf (5 days)
 
2. Karbala (5 days) - besides the two major shrines there are other important places around: khemagah, and many locations around - there are no signs so ask for guidance
 
3. Kadhmain/Baghdad (1 day)  - ideally go early morning and return next morning: security situation in Baghdad is terrible so be very very careful there.
 
4. If security situation is under control, then a day trip to Samarra may be considered.
 
5. Najaf (2 days) - on return from Kadhmain or Samarra, if departing from Najaf.
 
SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 7-DAY NAJAF AND KARBALA TOUR
 

Pilgrimage to Najaf and Karbala


Day 1: Flight to Najaf 

Meeting at Bagdad airport to Najaf or meeting at Najaf Airport. 

Day 2: Najaf

Visiting the holly tomb of Imam Ali ( peace be upon him) the cousin of prophet Mohammad, one of great rulers of Islam, at the beginning you can see the attractive golden tomb of the shrine which brings you back to the first time of Islam, Adam and Noah were buried, at the same place. Close to Imam Ali you find Najaf famous market. Lunch will be at 1:00 pm. having break in the hotel. After that, halt in Najaf market and coming back to have diner in the hotel. 

Day 3: Najaf - Kufa - Najaf

Departure to Kufa, (10 km) far from Najaf, which is the capital of Islam during Imam Ali era. In Kufa you find Kufa historical mosque, which is a very fantastic and spiritual place. Inside limits of the mosque you can see a lot of sacred spots which represent certain events and personalities. We continue to visit Muslem Ibn Aqeel, Imam Hussain messenger to kufa people, also we can visit Imam Ali historical house, Maitham altamaar mosque, Hani ibn Irwa mosque, Alimara palace, the place where Imam Hussain enemy ruling their affairs, can be seen in the same area. Having lunch at 1:30 pm.

We move by bus to Al sahla mosque, where a lot of islamec historical places to visit, including Imam mahdi place, prophet Ibraham place and many other holy spots. Coming back to the hotel and having diner. 

Day 4: Najaf to Karbala

In the early morning departure to Karbala (90 km) far from Najaf. Having break in the hotel and lunch at 1:00 pm. Visiting Imam Hussein holly shrine, you can see inside the shrine, his son Ali Akbar, his close follower Habeeb ibn Mudahir, the place where Imam Hussain head was cut. Then continue our tour for visiting Imam Abass who considered the most important character after Imam Hussain. Coming back to hotel to have dinner at 7: 30. 

Day 5: Karbala

Going to Al Hur alriyahi ( A brave leader took a great role in the battle of Karbala with Imam Hussain) ( 10 km) far from Karbala, after that coming back to Karbal to the restaurant at 1:30 pm and taking break in the hotel. Taking tour in Karbala city and coming back to the hotel to have dinner at 7:30 pm. 

Day 6: Karbala 

Visiting Imam Mahdi place, Zainabi hill ( the place where Zainab, sister of Imam Hussain, was standing and observing the battle of karbala).. continue to visit the site where Imam Abass hands were cut, Imam Hussain camp and halt in karbala markets. Having lunch at 1:00 pm and break in the hotel. After that, farewell to Imam hussain and Abass and go back to have diner at 7:30 pm. 

Day 7: Departure

Leaving Karbala to Baghdad airport. 
 
SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 9-DAY MESOPOTAMIA/IRAQI KURDISTAN TOUR
 

Day 1 - Arrive Baghdad, afternoon excursion. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 2 - Baghdad city tour - National Museum, old part of the city, Tel Harmal. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 3 - Baghdad City and environs. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 4 - Ancient Mesopotamia cities, Kish, Babylon, Borsippa. Overnight In Kerbala.

Day 5 - Drive to Ukhaider, the Islamic Castle/Palace, At Tar Caves and nearby monastery. Overnight Kerbala. Shrine city Husayn and Hassan.

Day 6 - Drive to Khifal 6th century B.C. tomb of Ezekial the Jewish Prophet, Kufa, Hira and Najaf where Imam Ali is buried. All important Shia cities and shrines. Overnight Najaf.

Day 7 - Drive to the ancient site of Nippur famous for its Enlil Temple and Ziggurat return to Overnight at Samawih.

Day 8 - Morning visit to Warka (ancient Uruk) the largest excavated site in Iraq. Return by road to overnight Baghdad.

Day 9 - Departure from Baghdad Airport.

 
SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 14-DAY MESOPOTAMIA/IRAQI KURDISTAN TOUR
 

Day 1 - Arrive Baghdad, afternoon excursion. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 2 - Baghdad city tour - national Museum, old part of city, Tel Harmal. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 3 - Baghdad city and environs Overnight Baghdad.

Day 4 - Ancient Mesopotamian cities. Kish, Babylon, Borsippar. Overnight Kerbala.

Day 5 - Drive to Ukhaider, the Islamic Castle / Palace, At Tar Caves and nearby Monastery. Overnight in Kerbala Shrine city of Husayn and Hassan.

Day 6 - Drive to Khifal. 6th century tomb of Ezekial, the Jewish Prophet, then Kufa, Hira and Najaf where Imam Ali is buried. All important Shia cities and shrines. Overnight Najaf.

Day 7 - Drive to Nippur, ancient Mesopotamian city . Overnight in Samawih.

Day 8 - Visit Uruk that most important ancient city where writing began, possibly Larsa. Overnight Samawih or Nasiriya.

Day 9 - Continue further south to Larsa and then Tel Ubaid, Eridu (a city older than time itself), Ur. Overnight Nasiriya.

Day 10 - A very full day exploring some very famous but little visited Sumerian sites, Tell Khaiber, Lagash, Telloh, and Islamic Wasit. Overnight Nasiriya.

Day 11 - Marshes excursion then Querna where the Euphrates meets the Tigris and to Overnight in Basra.

Day 12 - Basra city excursions. Overnight Basra.

Day 13 - Return to Bagdad by road visiting Ezra's tomb en route and passing through Amrah and Kut to Baghdad. Overnight Baghdad.

Day 14 - Departure from Baghdad airport.

 
SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 10-DAY CULTURAL AND ISLAMIC PROGRAM

 

Cultural and Islamic Program - From Baghdad to Iran

Day 1 - Bagdad – Karbala

 

Arrival to Baghdad Airport. Road to Karbala. Dinner and night in Karbala. 

Day 2 - Karbala – Babylon - Karbala


The day will be entirely devoted to visiting the legendary city of Babylon, with a long drive but on very good roads both there and back. The existence of Babylon is mentioned for the first time in about 2340 BC, a time at which the city was just one town among many. It was only at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC that Babylon was to occupy a position of importance, with the arrival in power of a dynasty of Amorite origin. They were to found the 1st Babylon dynasty, marked by the reign of King Hammurabi who managed to reunify Mesopotamia and who is still famous today for his code of laws. Babylon then experienced troubled times interspersed with periods of domination, including by the Kassites and later on by the Assyrians. But for a while, the city was restored to its former glory during the neo-Babylonian period, famous mainly for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604 – 562). He was to make his mark on history by building and restoring the edifices you will be seeing during the visit. The city then gradually declined until Seleucos 1 abandoned it for Seleucia, the new capital founded in 300 BC. Although a powerful political centre, Babylon also played an important religious role, becoming a holy place, respected even by the Assyrian enemy. One of the clearest signs of this was the temple dedicated to Marduk, the patron deity of Babylon, alongside the Etemenanki ziggurat, literally meaning "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth". Nothing today remains of these constructions but eloquent vestiges still illustrate the history of the city. You will begin the visit by passing through the famous rebuilt Gate of Ishtar. It opens onto the Processional Way, 250 metres long and 20 to 24 metres wide. At one time it was flanked by one hundred and twenty life-sized enamelled brick lions, representing the goddess Ishtar. This leads to the Lion of Babylon, a magnificent basalt sculpture. After visiting the site drive back to Karbala. Dinner and night in Karbala. 

Day 3 - Karbala – Alhur - Karbala

Going to Al Hur alriyahi ( A brave leader took a great role in the battle of Karbala with Imam Hussain) ( 10 km) far from Karbala, after that coming back to Karbala to the restaurant and taking break in the hotel. Taking tour in Karbala city and coming back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Karbala. 

Day 4 - Karbala – Kufa - Najaf

Departure to Kufa, which is the capital of Islam during Imam Ali era. In Kufa you find Kufa historical mosque, which is a very fantastic and spiritual place. Inside limits of the mosque you can see a lot of sacred spots which represent certain events and personalities. We continue to visit Muslem Ibn Aqeel, Imam Hussain messenger to kufa people, also we can visit Imam Ali historical house, Maitham altamaar mosque, Hani ibn Irwa mosque, Alimara palace, the place where Imam Hussain enemy ruling their affairs, can be seen in the same area. Having lunch in Najaf. We move by bus to Al sahla mosque, where a lot of islamec historical places to visit, including Imam mahdi place, prophet Ibraham place and many other holy spots. Coming back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Najaf. 

Day 5 - Najaf

Visiting the holly shrine of Imam Ali ( peace be upon him) the cousin of prophet Mohammad, one of great rulers of Islam, at the beginning you can see the attractive golden tomb of the shrine which brings you back to the first time of Islam, Adam and Noah were buried, at the same place. Close to Imam Ali you find Najaf famous market. Lunch will be at 1:00 pm. having break in the hotel. After that, halt in Najaf market and coming back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Najaf. 

Day 6 - Najaf – Uruk - Nassirriya 

In the early morning, we drive to Uruk close to Samawa city. This day will be a special opportunity to penetrate deep into the heart of the Mesopotamian desert. We will drive to Uruk and begin the visit of the site, one of the most impressive of all Mesopotamia through the quality and beauty of the remains. This was where the first forms of writing appeared. Picnic lunch on the site. The city is identified as the biblical Erech but Uruk was above all the city of the legendary Gilgamesh, builder of its walls and central character of the famous epic. As early as the 4th millennium BC, Uruk was an important city resulting from the amalgamation of several towns and extended to area of 400 hectares in the 3rd millennium BC. As the main city in the country of Sumer and most certainly the oldest City-State, its prospered under the aegis of its goddess Inanna / Ishtar – the goddess of love and war. In the Hellenistic period, under the name of Orchoï, it once again enjoyed a period of success and was the capital of Southern Mesopotamia. Uruk retained this important role under the Parthians and then declined before being finally abandoned under the first Sassanid kings. Night in Nasiriya. 

Day 7 - Nasiriya – Ur – Nasiriya

Day devoted to visiting Ur, which is very close to Nasiriya. Morning departure to this most symbolic of cities: it was already inhabited in the year 4000 BC and remained so until the Hellenistic period. This timeless city saw the rise and fall of prestigious dynasties, but owes its fame primarily to the biblical tradition which claims it as the home of the patriarch Abraham. Ur was protected by the Euphrates to the west and by a channel to the east which led to two ports because at that time the city was on the edge of the waters of the Persian Gulf. The infrastructures bear witness to an extremely busy port which enabled traders to enjoy successful business arrangements with Dilmun (today's Bahrain) and Magan (today's Oman). Caravans laden with the most precious products also left Ur for the rest of the Orient. Mid-way between the two ports lay the official zone of Ur built around the sanctuary of the God Nanna / Sin – the Moon god. It was in the courtyard of the temple dedicated to this god that the imposing ziggurat, called É-Temen-NiGur, was built. Its name literally means "house whose foundation creates terror" and its first level can still be admired today. The exceptional wealth of Ur was confirmed by the discovery of 1800 tombs, some of which are referred to as "royal tombs" owing to the riches they contained. The discovery of the private residential quarter enabled researchers to piece together the town planning arrangements in the 19th and 18th centuries BC. Houses were separated by the narrow streets that are still visible. Lunch in Nasiriya. Dinner and night in Nasiriya. 

Day 8 - Nasiriya - Lagash – Ash Shatra – Tello (Ngirsu) - Nasiriya

In the morning, drive to Lagash, the ancient Sumerian city. We will take the time to visit this major site, which is striking despite its starkness. The Sumerian kings of the country of Lagash ruled over a territory of some 300 km² which comprised three major cities built on the banks of an important channel fed by the waters of the Euphrates: to the North-West Ngirsu, home of the god Ningirsu; in the centre of the State was the city of Lagash itself and to the South was Nigin, home of the goddess Nanshe, sister of Ningirsu. Lagash prospered in Sumer as the power of Uruk and Kish declined. It was to retain a major role until the end of the 3rd millennium BC. The city was famous for its oval temple dedicated to Inanna / Ishtar, and for its temple dedicated to Ningirsu. Lunch in Ash Shatra and meeting with the population. Relaxation on the banks of the Shaat Al Gharaf river. In the afternoon, visit to the nearby site of Ngirsu (today Tello), former capital of the State of Lagash. The city developed mainly between the archaic dynastic period and the end of the Ur III dynasty (that is at the end of the 3rd millennium BC). The major interest of the city is not the architectural remains, but rather the important archives and the objects discovered on the site. For example, the 2,000 tablets from the archives of the domain of the goddess Ba‘U and above all the Stele of the Vultures evoking the conflict between the State of Lagash and Umma. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriya. 

Day 9 - The Tigris and the Marshes 

Day-long excursion to the Tigris and canoe excursion into the Marshes. Legend claims this place to be the Earthly paradise. It is one of the largest ecosystems in the world and one of its strangest aquatic environments, where man lives alongside animals, birds and fish. The region is currently being rehabilitated after the dramatic and aggressive drainage policy conducted under the regime of Saddam Hussein. This immense body of water at the entrance to the Shatt-el-Arab, covered with reeds and dotted with lake-dweller villages, is home to the Marsh Arabs. This region was already inhabited 5,000 years ago, as witnessed by the Sumerian bas-reliefs. Since then, the population has retained a lifestyle built essentially around fishing, buffalo breeding and reed weaving. During this journey, we will meet the "Madan", considered to be the oldest inhabitants of the marshlands and the heirs to the most ancient local traditions. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriya. 

Day 1 -: Road from Nassiriya to Iran via Basra. 

After breakfast, way to Iran via Basra. 

 

SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 9-DAY MESOPOTOMIA: THE BIRTHPLACE OF HISTORY PROGRAM


Day 1 - Your City – Baghdad
 

Transfer from airport to Hotel. Dinner and night in Baghdad. 


Day 2 - Baghdad – Nasiriyah
 

Departure in the morning for the road to the South. Just after Baghdad, visit of Ctesiphon. Dinner and night in Nasiriyah. 
 

Day 3 - Nasiriyah – Ur – Nasiriyah
 

Day devoted to visiting Ur, which is very close to Nasiriyah. Morning departure to this most symbolic of cities: it was already inhabited in the year 4000 BC and remained so until the Hellenistic period. This timeless city saw the rise and fall of prestigious dynasties, but owes its fame primarily to the biblical tradition which claims it as the home of the patriarch Abraham. Ur was protected by the Euphrates to the west and by a channel to the east which led to two ports because at that time the city was on the edge of the waters of the Persian Gulf. The infrastructures bear witness to an extremely busy port which enabled traders to enjoy successful business arrangements with Dilmun (today's Bahrain) and Magan (today's Oman). Caravans laden with the most precious products also left Ur for the rest of the Orient. Mid-way between the two ports lay the official zone of Ur built around the sanctuary of the God Nanna / Sin – the Moon god. It was in the courtyard of the temple dedicated to this god that the imposing ziggurat, called É-Temen-NiGur, was built. Its name literally means "house whose foundation creates terror" and its first level can still be admired today. The exceptional wealth of Ur was confirmed by the discovery of 1800 tombs, some of which are referred to as "royal tombs" owing to the riches they contained. The discovery of the private residential quarter enabled researchers to piece together the town planning arrangements in the 19th and 18th centuries BC. Houses were separated by the narrow streets that are still visible. Lunch in Nasiriyah. Dinner and night in Nasiriyah. 

Day 4 - Nasiriyah - Lagash – Ash Shatra – Tello (Ngirsu) - Nasiriyah

 

In the morning, drive to Lagash, the ancient Sumerian city. We will take the time to visit this major site, which is striking despite its starkness. The Sumerian kings of the country of Lagash ruled over a territory of some 300 km² which comprised three major cities built on the banks of an important channel fed by the waters of the Euphrates: to the North-West Ngirsu, home of the god Ningirsu; in the centre of the State was the city of Lagash itself and to the South was Nigin, home of the goddess Nanshe, sister of Ningirsu. Lagash prospered in Sumer as the power of Uruk and Kish declined. It was to retain a major role until the end of the 3rd millennium BC. The city was famous for its oval temple dedicated to Inanna / Ishtar, and for its temple dedicated to Ningirsu. Lunch in Ash Shatra and meeting with the population. Relaxation on the banks of the Shaat Al Gharouf river. In the afternoon, visit to the nearby site of Ngirsu (today Tello), former capital of the State of Lagash. The city developed mainly between the archaic dynastic period and the end of the Ur III dynasty (that is at the end of the 3rd millennium BC). The major interest of the city is not the architectural remains, but rather the important archives and the objects discovered on the site. For example, the 2,000 tablets from the archives of the domain of the goddess Ba‘U and above all the Stele of the Vultures evoking the conflict between the State of Lagash and Umma. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriyah. 

Day 5 - Nasiriyah - Larsa – Uruk – Nasiriyah

 

This day will be a special opportunity to penetrate deep into the heart of the Mesopotamian desert. We will drive to Larsa and then visit this particularly arid archaeological site on foot. Occupancy of this site goes back to the 3rd millennium BC. It was the capital of the province of Ur III, and reached its apogee at the beginning of the Old Babylonian period, before being incorporated into the Kingdom of Hammurabi. It was then to play only a secondary role but remained one of the holy cities of the country until the Seleuco-Parthian period. The excavations have revealed an abundance of essentially epigraphic material, dating from the reign of Hammurabi, such as fragments of the eponymous code. We will drive to Uruk and begin the visit of the site, one of the most impressive of all Mesopotamia through the quality and beauty of the remains. This was where the first forms of writing appeared. Picnic lunch on the site. The city is identified as the biblical Erech but Uruk was above all the city of the legendary Gilgamesh, builder of its walls and central character of the famous epic. As early as the 4th millennium BC, Uruk was an important city resulting from the amalgamation of several towns and extended to area of 400 hectares in the 3rd millennium BC. As the main city in the country of Sumer and most certainly the oldest City-State, its prospered under the aegis of its goddess Inanna / Ishtar – the goddess of love and war. In the Hellenistic period, under the name of Orchoï, it once again enjoyed a period of success and was the capital of Southern Mesopotamia. Uruk retained this important role under the Parthians and then declined before being finally abandoned under the first Sassanid kings. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriyah. 

Day 6 - The Tigris and the Marshes 

 

Day-long excursion to the Tigris and canoe excursion (to be confirmed) into the Marshes. Legend claims this place to be the Earthly paradise. It is one of the largest ecosystems in the world and one of its strangest aquatic environments, where man lives alongside animals, birds and fish. The region is currently being rehabilitated after the dramatic and aggressive drainage policy conducted under the regime of Saddam Hussein. This immense body of water at the entrance to the Shatt-el-Arab, covered with reeds and dotted with lake-dweller villages, is home to the Marsh Arabs. This region was already inhabited 5,000 years ago, as witnessed by the Sumerian bas-reliefs. Since then, the population has retained a lifestyle built essentially around fishing, buffalo breeding and reed weaving. During this journey, we will meet the "Madan", considered to be the oldest inhabitants of the marshlands and the heirs to the most ancient local traditions. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriyah. 

Day 7 - Nasiriyah – Babylon

 

The day will be entirely devoted to visiting the legendary city of Babylon, with a long drive but on very good roads both there and back. The existence of Babylon is mentioned for the first time in about 2340 BC, a time at which the city was just one town among many. It was only at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC that Babylon was to occupy a position of importance, with the arrival in power of a dynasty of Amorite origin. They were to found the 1st Babylon dynasty, marked by the reign of King Hammurabi who managed to reunify Mesopotamia and who is still famous today for his code of laws. Babylon then experienced troubled times interspersed with periods of domination, including by the Kassites and later on by the Assyrians. But for a while, the city was restored to its former glory during the neo-Babylonian period, famous mainly for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604 – 562). He was to make his mark on history by building and restoring the edifices you will be seeing during the visit. The city then gradually declined until Seleucos 1 abandoned it for Seleucia, the new capital founded in 300 BC. Although a powerful political centre, Babylon also played an important religious role, becoming a holy place, respected even by the Assyrian enemy. One of the clearest signs of this was the temple dedicated to Marduk, the patron deity of Babylon, alongside the Etemenanki ziggurat, literally meaning "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth". Nothing today remains of these constructions but eloquent vestiges still illustrate the history of the city. You will begin the visit by passing through the famous rebuilt Gate of Ishtar. It opens onto the Processional Way, 250 metres long and 20 to 24 metres wide. At one time it was flanked by one hundred and twenty life-sized enamelled brick lions, representing the goddess Ishtar. This leads to the Lion of Babylon, a magnificent basalt sculpture. Dinner and night in Hillah. 


Day 8 - Hillah – Karbala - Baghdad


Visit of the Holy Shrine of Karbala in the morning. Visiting Imam Mahdi place, Zainabi hill ( the place where Zainab, sister of Imam Hussain, was standing and observing the battle of karbala).. continue to visit the site where Imam Abass hands were cut, Imam Hussain camp and halt in karbala markets. Road to Baghdad. Dinner and night in Baghdad. 
 

Day 9 - Baghdad - Your City
 

Transfer to Baghdad International airport and flight to your country. 

 

SAMPLE ITINERARY FOR 9-DAY MESOPOTOMIA: CULTURAL TOUR IN IRAQI KURDISTAN


Day 1: Arrival in Erbil

Flight to Erbil (not direct). Night in Erbil. 

Day 2: Erbil - Dohuk

Morning departure for the site of Bavian or Khans. There you will see Assyrian sculptures considered to be the most important remains in the Badinan region. They were part of one of the summer palaces of Sennacherib, King of Assyria in the 7th century BC. We will continue on to Dohuk and visit the Charsteen cave on the "White Mountain" north of Dohuk. It would seem to date back to the Furthian era, as indicated by the pottery remains discovered on its roof. On the right-hand side of the cave can be seen five symbols etched into the stone, probably denoting the gods of the Sun and the Moon, Ishtar, Mitrwa and Zrwan. We will then travel to Amadiyah, a small Assyrian hilltop fortress. The trade caravans mainly came from Mosul and entered the city through the western gate, which bears the same signs and symbols as those discovered in Babylon. The origins of this gate are attributed to King Naram-Sin (2254 - 2218 BC). Before returning to Dohuk, we will stop at Arader and visit the church of Sultan Mahadouht. This church in particular houses tombs of the Assyrian period. Night in Dohuk. 

Day 3: Dohuk

We travel to Al Gara mountain and visit the remains of one of the former palaces of Saddam Hussein, today abandoned. Then on to Zakho, a few kilometres from the Turkish border. The symbol of Zakho, is the Delal bridge, also called the Abbassid bridge because of the presumed period during which it was built from large hewn stones. It crosses the Khabor river at a height of more than fifteen metres. The history of the construction of this bridge remains unclear as no symbols, signs or writing offer any precise identification of its date. We will then move on towards the banks of the Tigris, with a halt at Pishkhabor, where the Turkish, Syrian and Iraqi borders all meet. Return to Dohuk for the night. 

Day 4: Dohuk – Erbil

Departure for Al Qush, the home town of the prophet Nahum, the seventh of the twelve minor prophets. His ministry ran from 650 to 612 BC, at the same time as Jeremiah, and he predicted the destruction of Nineveh. The synagogue of Al Qush contains the tomb of the prophet. In 1948, most members of the Jewish community left the town and the synagogue was abandoned. The site is today protected by the church, but has not been Christianised and remains as it was originally built. The Rabban Hormizd monastery, which was one of the spiritual centres of the Church of the Orient, dominates the village of Al Qush. After a period of significant spiritual influence, this monastery – which was home in the 7th century to the hermit Rabban Hormizd - has been abandoned for centuries. The monastery was built on the hillside and was exposed to attacks and incursions by the armed bandits who ravaged the Kurdish mountains. Mar Hormizd church is the oldest of the buildings on the site and was built in 1300. Despite its simplicity, it can be considered an architectural masterpiece. Visit to the Mar Matti monastery atop Mount Maqloub, one of the best known to the Christians of the Middle East. This monastery belonged first to the Syriacs and then the Jacobites. Before returning to Erbil, we will stop in Lalesh where a large community of Kurdish Yazidi lives. Visit to the sanctuary of the Yazidi religion in an old Christian church. This church in particular contains bas-reliefs representing a snake and a peacock, the symbols of the Yazidi religion. Night in Erbil. 

Day 5: Erbil – Suleimaniyah

Departure for Suleimaniyah, a city close to the Iranian border. En-route, halt at Koya – previously known at Kakon. The city was an important stopping point for the caravans. The town is today a commercial, cultural and educational centre of Kurdish life that enjoys a considerable reputation; numerous artists, poets and politicians come from there. You will be able to walk through the traditional alleyways of the town and visit Mar Bena monastery, bombarded when Saddam Hussein was in power. The building is currently being rebuilt according to the original plans. Also, visit to the Ottoman fortress, the 18th century caravanserai and the old mosque. We will then continue on to Dukan. Walk around the lake and castle visit. Night in Suleimaniyah. 

Day 6: Suleimaniyah – Erbil 

Suleimaniyah was founded at the end of the 18th century, under Baban rule. The Babans were to play an important political, economic and social role in the region. Walk through the town and its wide boulevards lined with trees and imposing villas. The town places particular emphasis on promoting Kurdish culture. The university houses a Kurdish cultural centre and one of its faculties is devoted to Kurdish language studies. Visit to the archaeological museum. Continuation to the monastery of Bazyan (5th-6th centuries). The excavations that began in 1987 have revealed a number of coins, two crucifixes – one of mosaic and one of bronze, two tombs and Sassanid style mosaics (5th century). On the road back to Erbil, visit to the sculpted caves at Qazqapan. The engravings represent two kings (of the Medes and of the Lydians) with the attributes of the divine symbols of peace. One door leads to three funerary chambers. This entrance is marked by two ionic columns dating from the 7th-6th centuries BC. Later, stop at the prehistoric caves of Zerzi. Night in Erbil. 

Day 7: Erbil

Day spent visiting Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, an autonomous federal region of Northern Iraq. Erbil, "Arba Ilu" the city of the four gods, was the religious capital of the Assyrian kingdom and in it can be found in particular the temple of Ishtar (goddess of fertility). The name of Erbil is also linked to the famous battle of Gaugamela during which Alexander defeated Darius III. The day will begin with a visit to the Al Khayat mosque. It was built about three years ago and is the largest mosque in Iraq and the main gathering place for the Muslim community in Iraqi Kurdistan. Erbil is well-known for its citadel, covering ten hectares, which from a height of about thirty metres dominates the plain. Its first occupants took up residence in the 6th millennium BC and the place also provided shelter for its inhabitants during the numerous invasions and wars which marked the history of the region. The city of Erbil gradually expanded into a circle around the fortifications. The journey will continue with a visit to Erbil Museum. It was opened in 1989 and houses collections ranging from the Sumerians to the Abbasids. Finally, visit to the Choli minaret built by Muzaffaradeen Gokburi, Sultan of Erbil (563 - 636). Free time in the bazaars. Night in Erbil. 

Day 8: Erbil – Airport

Morning departure to visit Khanzad castle and then Raban Boya monastery in Shaqlawa. Transfer to Erbil airport and flight.