‘Aqrah, Iraq

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‘Aqrah, Iraq

Region: Aqrah is located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Geographic Coordinates: 36.741400, 43.893300
Temperature Range: 5.0°C to 35.0°C (41°F to 95°F)
Climate: Seasonal.
Population: 212000
Language: Kurdish

Aqrah is a city located in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, Specifically in the Dohuk Governorate. It is situated approximately 70 kilometers northwest of Erbil, The capital city of Kurdistan and has an estimated population of around 50, 000 people. The name Aqrah means the foot of the mountain and it is known for its beautiful mountainous landscape. The history of Aqrah dates back to ancient times when it was part of the Assyrian Empire. The city was also an important center for Christianity during the early Middle Ages and many churches were built in this area during that time.

In more recent times, Aqrah played a significant role during the Kurdish uprising against Saddam Hussein’s regime. One notable attraction in Aqrah is its historic castle which dates back to medieval times. This castle served as a military stronghold for centuries and now stands as an impressive monument to Iraq’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore this magnificent structure which has been well-preserved over time. Another popular attraction in Aqrah is its bustling bazaar where locals sell everything from traditional clothing to fresh produce and spices.

This market provides visitors with an authentic taste of Iraqi culture and allows them to interact with locals while enjoying delicious food from street vendors. Aqrah also boasts several natural wonders such as waterfalls, Hot springs, And caves that are worth exploring. One such cave is called Geli Ali Beg Cave which features stunning limestone formations that have been carved by water over thousands of years. For those interested in outdoor activities, There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and trekking around Aqrah’s mountainous terrain.

The surrounding mountains offer breathtaking views over valleys dotted with small villages where visitors can experience traditional Kurdish hospitality firsthand. Overall, Aqrah offers a unique blend of history, Culture, Nature, Adventure sports activities making it one-of-a-kind destination waiting to be explored by adventurous travelers looking for an authentic experience in Iraq.

Important Landmarks

  1. Mount Korek: This mountain is located near Aqrah and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
  2. Gali Ali Bag: A natural cave formation that has become a popular tourist attraction due to its unique shape.
  3. The Great Mosque of Aqrah: This mosque is one of the oldest buildings in Aqrah and features beautiful architecture.
  4. The Citadel of Erbil: Located about 60 km from Aqrah, this ancient citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and dates back to at least 2300 BC.
  5. Qalat Sherwana: An ancient castle that was built during the Ottoman Empire and served as a military stronghold for many years.
  6. Rawanduz Canyon: A scenic canyon located about 70 km from Aqrah that offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  7. Dukan Lake: A large lake located about 100 km from Aqrah that offers opportunities for boating, fishing, and other water activities.
  8. The Kurdish Textile Museum: Located in nearby Erbil city, this museum showcases traditional Kurdish textiles and clothing from throughout history.

Please note that due to security concerns in certain parts of Iraq, it’s important to check travel advisories before planning any trip to this region or any other part of Iraq as safety cannot be guaranteed at all times or places especially for foreign visitors.

Noteable History

  1. The ancient city of Dur-Kurigalzu, built by the Kassite king Kurigalzu I in the 14th century BCE, is located near Aqrah.
  2. In the late 19th century, Aqrah was part of the Ottoman Empire and served as a center for Kurdish resistance against Ottoman rule.
  3. During World War I, Aqrah was occupied by British forces and became part of the British Mandate of Mesopotamia.
  4. In 1920, Aqrah was briefly occupied by Kurdish rebels during their uprising against British rule in Iraq.
  5. Sheikh Mahmud Barzanji, a prominent Kurdish nationalist leader who fought against both Ottoman and British rule in Iraq, was born near Aqrah in 1880.
  6. Mullah Mustafa Barzani, another prominent Kurdish nationalist leader who founded the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), spent much of his early life in and around Aqrah before becoming a guerrilla fighter against Iraqi governments from the 1940s to his death in 1979.
  7. During Saddam Hussein’s regime (1979-2003), many Kurds were forcibly relocated from their homes near Aqrah to other parts of Iraq as part of his Arabization policy.
  8. Following Hussein’s overthrow by US-led coalition forces in 2003, Aqrah became part of Iraqi Kurdistan and has since experienced significant economic growth and development under autonomous Kurdish governance.
  9. Among notable people from or associated with ‘Aqra are:
    • Mullah Mustafa Barzani – founder & former president KDP
    • Masoud Barzani – former president KRG
    • Jalal Talabani – founder & former president PUK
    • Hero Ibrahim Ahmed – first female mayor elected to lead a major city/town/village anywhere within Iraq

Museums and Things To See

  1. Shanidar Cave: This archaeological site is renowned for its Neanderthal remains from 60,000 years ago.
  2. The Amedi Citadel: This fortified town on a hilltop offers beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and has a rich history dating back to the Assyrian period.
  3. Lalish Temple: It is one of the most important pilgrimage sites for Yazidis in Iraq and believed to be Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir’s final resting place.
  4. Hawler Castle: This castle dates back to the 16th century and provides visitors with a glimpse into Kurdish history and culture.
  5. Qalat-e-Jama Citadel: One of ‘Aqrah’s oldest surviving structures, this citadel was built by Saladin’s nephew in the 12th century.
  6. Amna Suraka Museum: Located in Sulaymaniyah, this museum showcases exhibits related to Kurdish resistance against Saddam Hussein’s regime.
  7. The Choli Minaret: Considered one of Iraq’s finest examples of Islamic architecture, this minaret was built during the Seljuk period.
  8. Gali Ali Bag Waterfall: Near Amedi town, this waterfall offers breathtaking views of nature along with hiking opportunities for adventure enthusiasts.
  9. The Great Mosque Of Erbil : Also known as Jalil Khayat Mosque or Masjid-i Jameh which was built around mid-20th century.
  10. Erbil Civilization Museum :This museum displays artifacts from different periods including prehistoric times until modern days reflecting Kurdistan region’s ancient civilization.

Cultural Events

  1. Newroz: This is a Kurdish New Year festival celebrated on March 21st every year.
  2. Eid al-Fitr: This is the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
  3. Eid al-Adha: This is another important Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God.
  4. Ashura: A Shia Muslim festival commemorating the martyrdom of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
  5. Kurdistan Flag Day: Celebrated on December 17th each year, this day marks the adoption of a new flag for Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991.
  6. Kurdish Culture Day: Celebrated on March 10th each year, this day celebrates Kurdish culture and heritage with music, dance performances and exhibitions showcasing traditional clothing and crafts.

Please note that these celebrations may vary from year to year depending on local customs and traditions or due to current circumstances in Iraq.


  • Kabab Ji: This restaurant is known for its delicious grilled meat dishes.
  • Kebab Azar: Another famous restaurant that specializes in kebab dishes.
  • Mardin Restaurant: A traditional Iraqi restaurant that offers a variety of local dishes such as dolma, kubba, and tashreeb.
  • Sherzad Restaurant: Known for its tasty lamb chops and rice dishes.
  • Al Bagdadi Restaurant: Offers a range of Middle Eastern and Iraqi cuisine such as falafel, shawarma, and hummus.
  • Biryani House: Serves flavorful biryani rice with chicken or beef options.
  • Diyarbakir Restaurant: Specializes in Kurdish cuisine with a range of meat-based dishes like kebab and lamb stew.
  • Al Zuhour Bakery & Sweets Shop: Famous for their freshly baked bread and sweets like baklava and kunafa.
  • Shandiz Café & Grill : A cozy café serving coffee along with sandwiches made from fresh ingredients.
  • La Piazza Italiano Ristorante : An Italian restaurant offering pizzas, pastas, etc.

  • Parks and Recreation

    1. Aqrah Park: This park is located in the center of Aqrah and offers a large green space for picnicking and relaxing.
    2. Mount Korek: This mountain is located just outside of Aqrah and offers hiking trails with stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
    3. Darbandikhan Lake: This lake is located about 40 kilometers south of Aqrah and offers boating, fishing, and swimming opportunities.
    4. Qalat Sherwana: This historical castle is located about 20 kilometers east of Aqrah and offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history.
    5. Local Markets: There are several local markets in Aqrah where visitors can shop for traditional Kurdish handicrafts, clothing, spices, and other goods.


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