Learn about traveling to Kurdistan in northern Iraq as we talk to Amateur Traveler Mansoureh Farahani about her travels in this unusual destination at travelwithmansoureh.com.
Mansoureh said, “If people are interested in culture, they should definitely go to Kurdistan. Not good for vegetarians or vegans if they like good food but if you are a meat eater you should definitely go to the Middle East and Kurdistan. And they have very delicious food. And if you want to meet new people and make friends, Kurds are the best. You feel very welcome there. And also history. The region has a long and rich history and they have different religions and they also have a lot of history about Christianity, Islam and also a different religion, Yezidism.”
We start from Erbil, the largest city and capital of Kurdistan. In Erbil, Mansoureh suggests visiting the bazaar and also the fort. Erbil Fortress is a World Heritage Site. Hisar mound has been occupied since at least the 5th century BC. When it’s time to leave, take a shared taxi to Dohuk, located in the mountains to the north.
Dohuk’s origins date back to the stone age. Like most of the region, it was ruled by many different empires, including Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols, and Ottomans. Mansoureh suggests that Dohuk is a good place to explore nature with some hiking.
His next stop was Akre, where he participated in the Nowruz (Persian New Year) celebration. Celebrated at the beginning of spring, the festival holds an early morning torch procession to celebrate the victory of light over darkness.
He visited the town of Lalish, a holy city in Yezidism.
Finally, he visited the city of Sulaymaniyah near the Iranian border. The modern city was founded by an Ottoman-Kurdish prince in the 1700s.
Kurdistan is off the tourist trail. You may find yourself relying on your translation app or tourist antics, but Mansoureh thinks you’ll enjoy the area and its people.
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I have upcoming trips to Italy’s Basilicata and Calabria regions in September (with a day to visit the Colosseum in Rome). Have you done any podcasts on the villages in Basilicata and Calabria?
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