UNESCO sites in Iraq

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Discover all the UNESCO sites of Iraq

The cradle of civilization. Iraq’s famous nickname. And rightly so, the country is full of historic constructions that are reminiscent of a bygone era. Ancient Mesopotamia has always played a major role in our history. In that respect, old Iraq is not inferior to historically rich countries such as Greece, Egypt and Italy. The UNESCO World Heritage Organization also recognizes the importance of Iraq. Herewith, we present a list of all UNESCO sites in Iraq. Plus, we’ll tell you if it’s open for visiting or not.

1. Samarra Archaeological City

The city of Samarra is located about 125km north of Baghdad, on the Tigris river. Samarra was the capital of the Islamic world from 874 to 892. At that time ruled the Caliphate of the Abbasid. Samarra was also one of the largest cities in the time of Mesopotamia. The most famous building of Samarra is the Great Mosque of Samarra with the famous spiral minaret. Also in Samarra you can find the tombs of the tenth and eleventh Shiite imams Ali al-Hadi and Hasan al- Askari, and the temple of Mohammed al-Mahdi, the twelfth Imam.

Can I visit Samarra Archaeological City? 

Yes, we organize group and individual trips to Samarra. A visit to the spiral minaret in particular is a highlight of a trip to Iraq for many people. 

2. Erbil Citadel

In the Kurdish capital Erbil is the Erbil Citadel. A settlement hill that is located right in the historic centre. What makes the citadel so special is that it is said to be one of the longest inhabited settlements in the world. The oldest traces of habitation of the citadel date back to the fifth millennium BC.

Can I visit the Erbil Citadel?

Yes, we organize group and individual trips to Samarra. A visit to the spiral minaret in particular is a highlight of a trip to Iraq for many people. 

3. The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities

A very long name, but this UNESCO site includes several historic sites in Iraq. The Ahwar consists of seven different components. The archaeological cities of Uruk, Ur and the archaeological site of Tell Eridu are all part of the ancient Sumerian Empire. In addition, the Ahwar consists of the four Iraqi wetlands (marshes): Huwaizah Marshes, Central Marshes, East Hammar Marshes, and the West Hammar Marshes. A special region where you still experience old Iraq.

Can I visit The Ahwar Southern Iraq: Refuge of the Remnant Biodiversity and Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities?

Yes, during our group tour to Iraq we regularly visit the Central Marshes and Ur. Both are, in our opinion, the highlights of this UNESCO site. But we can also organize trips to the other locations.

4. Babylon

The most famous UNESCO site in Iraq is of course Babylon. This city was built on both sides of the Euphrates river. The city was gigantic, and was similar in size to ancient cities such as  Rome and Carthage. The city was at its largest in the two decades before the Common Era.

Can I visit Babylon?

Yes, Today you can still visit Babylon. There are several ruins to see, including the (possible) sites of the Tower of Babel and the Hanging Gardens. You can visit Babylon with our individual and group tours.

5. Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat)

Ashur was the capital of the Assyrian Empire for various periods. The remains of the city can still be found on the Tigris River, between Mosul and Baghdad. Ashur is on the list of endangered historical sites due to the US invasion in 2003 and the occupation of Islamic State in 2015.

Can I visit Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat)?

If you specifically want to visit Ashur, we ask you to contact us for the latest current status. Ashur is in a tricky area of ​​Iraq that requires us to look at it case by case. 

6. Hatra

The ancient city of Hatra was the capital of the Arab Kingdom of Hatra, between the Roman and Persian Empires. Hatra was a prosperous city, especially in the second century, until its destruction in the third century. The ruins are still impressive and were only discovered in the 19th century. Hatra is located to the south of the Iraqi city Mosul. 

Can I visit Hatra?

If you specifically want to visit Hatra, we ask you to contact us for the latest current status. Hatra is in a tricky region of Iraq that requires us to look at it case by case. 

Future UNESCO sites?

In addition to the sites mentioned above, Iraq has nominated the following sites for UNESCO status. However, to date they have not yet been accepted by UNESCO, but who knows what will happen in the future!

  • Ur
  • Nimrud
  • The Fortress of Al- Ukhaidar
  • wasit
  • The Marshlands of Mesopotamia
  • The Site of Thilkifli
  • Wadi Al-Salam Cemetery in Najafi
  • Amedy City
  • Historical Features of the Tigris River in Baghdad Rusafa, which extends from the school Al- Mustansiriya to the Abbasid Palace

Do you want to discover the UNESCO sites in Iraq? Take a look at our independent tours or group tours to Iraq. Do you need more information? Get in touch with us now.