"Land of Two Rivers" Top 5 Page for this destination Baghdad by hunterV

Baghdad Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 316 photos

Palms and Dates

Iraq, the Land of Two Rivers, has a long history and great traditions. It has a tremendously varied landscape - from the palm groves of the central and southern plains to the snow-clad mountains of the north.
Iraq is also called the cradle of civilization. It has a lot of ancient sites, among them Babylon and Ur.

In Iraq all roads lead to Baghdad, a city with the glorious past and the magnificent present, as it was often called.
Visiting this city, you can't help learning some history. The city was built in A.D. 762 by Abbasid Caliph Abu Jaffar Al-Mansour on a site west of the Tigris. Famed for its circular plan, it was regarded as a model of city planning, and soon became one of the great centers of human civilization.
The city spread out rapidly to the Eastern bank reaching its peak in size and construction during the reign of Haroun Al-Rashid at the second half of the 8th century.
For nearly five centuries the city boasted of its palaces, public buildings, mosques, baths, markets, gardens, many of them received international fame then.
Nowadays the city population is over two million inhabitants. The city’s built-up area now covers more than 850 square kilometers/328 square miles.
It is divided by the Tigris into two halves: Rusafa and Karkh that are connected by several modern bridges.
In Rusafa you can visit Rashid Street, the city's main street, stretching from the North Gate to the South Gate. This street is still the commercial center of Baghdad as it has been for centuries. There are old souqs (bazaars) lined up on both sides of the street.
Parallel with Rashid Street is Caliphs Street, where some historical mosques and churches together with some government offices are to be found.
In Sadoun Street stretching all the way from Liberation Square to Masbah you will find most first-class hotels, cinemas, airline offices, travel agencies and some government departments.
Almost parallel with Sadoun Street is Abu Nuwas Street, a beautiful river drive that runs by the Tigris from Jumhouriya Bridge to the 14th Jul y Suspended Bridge.
In Karkh, the Western half of the city, is Damascus Street stretching from Damascus Square to the International Airport Road where you will find the International Railway Station, Zawra Park, and the vast grounds of the Baghdad International Fair.
They say Baghdad is a combination of all that is best in the old and the new. Multi-storeyed buildings often tower over ancient arcaded bazaars overflowing with fantastic things. A motley of colors, races, costumes, and ways of life gives the city an air of vitality and excitement. European dress rubs shoulder with Arab costume, blue jeans with ornate Kurdish clothes. You will get lots of unforgettable impressions visiting the city streets, squares and sites.
Here is a nice map of Iraq. In addition, you can see more pictures of Baghdad.

My Work in Iraq

I have never planned visiting Iraq, but, as they say, all roads lead to Baghdad.
As a student of a foreign languages college in Ukraine, and according to the old tradition of the college, at the end of my studies I was recommended to work as an interpreter in a developing country. Such a recommendation was issued every year to encourage several successful graduates of the college. Not everybody got a job abroad afterwards, though, but my file worked then. I was told in August that I had been selected. I had to arrive to Moscow to a foreign assistance company at the end of September.
So my knowledge of English came in handy, and I got a decent job in Iraq right after my graduation from the teacher-training institute of foreign languages in 1982, which was a miracle in those times, for you could not even dream of getting such a well-paid and honorable job abroad! I was not even a Communist party member to be able to apply for such a job. I am glad I was selected and I think I managed to do everything that was in my powers fulfilling my job duties.
I spent a year in Iraq working as an interpreter at a cement plant built by the Soviet Union in the seventies.
In the Soviet times it was customary for the Soviet Union to build lots of industrial enterprises in the developing countries of Africa and Asia and to send technical assistance groups. Those Soviet groups, like ours, managed practically all the factory operation. Besides, they were a good source of stable income in foreign currency for the Soviet Union.
I worked in the city of Samawa, Al-Muthanna Governorate, in the south of Iraq, 280 km/171 miles from Baghdad.
Also, our technical assistance group managed to visit some historical sites on our days off. We had a field trip to Ur, an ancient town on the Euphrates, and spent several days off at Lake Sawa.
Also, I went to the Iraqi capital on business, but did not have any guided tour there. It wasn't a quiet time for sightseeing. The Iran-Iraq war was in full swing. We, Soviet specialists, feared our contract might be canceled any day, and were prepared to leave the country through Kuwait in case the decisive offensive, that the Iranians had assumed in September 1982 on Baghdad, turned out to be successful.
Thank Goodness the offensive petered out, our contract was not canceled and I stayed for the entire period of my stay - for a year - in Iraq. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me! It was also a good financial start in my career for I earned quite a lot there, so much that for my year's salary I could pay for an apartment in a condominium for my family and also furnish it.

The Iraqi Capital

The inhabitants of Baghdad call it the city with a glorious past and a magnificent present.
The city is divided by the Tigris into two halves: Rusafa and Karkh which are connected by several bridges. You can visit Rashid Street in Rusafa, the main street of the city, its commercial center, with the old souqs (markets) lined up on its both sides.
Other main streets are: Al-Jumhuriya, Harun Al-Rashid Street, Saadun Street.
Saadun Street is famous for its Monument to the Unknown Soldier erected in 1959. There are a lot of other war memorials and monuments in the city. You can see the monument to the Arab Horseman in Mansour Square that is more like a symbol showing a proud Arab horseman. The Arabs have always loved horsemanship and associated it with gallantry, courage and generosity.
The territory of Baghdad is 850 sq.km/328 sq.mi.
The central square is called Al-Takhrir Square. There are seven museums in the capital, among them the Iraq Museum. One of the most famous ancient sites in Iraq is the Babylon National Park that is about 90 km/56 miles to the south of Baghdad.
If you want to see some historical mosques and churches, you will find them in Caliphs Street.
Very famous and popular is the river drive called Abu Nawas Street that runs along the Tigris embankment from Jumhouriya Bridge to the 14th July suspension bridge.
Abu Nawas Street is famous for its cafes and restaurants where you can taste delicious fish grilled in an ancient way peculiar to Baghdad. Al-mazgouf fish is grilled on an open circular fire in your presence and then served with pickles and vegetables, a fabulous dish!
In Karkh, the Western part of the city, you can visit Damascus Street stretching from Damascus Square to the International Airport Road. You will see the railway station and Zawra Park in this part of the city.
Wherever you go in Baghdad, you will see domes and minarets ornamented in blue or glazed tiles or covered with gold leaf. Many of them belong to shrines and mosques that have their stories to tell about holy men who once rendered humanity great services with their teaching and their wisdom and piety. Their tombs enshrined under these domes and minarets have become places of worship and study and are visited by thousands of people every month.
Here are some of them:

\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// ---------------------- Kadhimain Shrine ---------------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// ------------------ Al-Imam Al-Adham Mosque ------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// ---------- Sheikh Abdul Kader Al-Gailani Mosque ----------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// -------------- Skeikh Omar Al-Sahrawardi Shrine --------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// -------------------- Sitt Zumurrud Khatoun Tomb --------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// ------------------- Caliphs Mosque -------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// -------------- Sheikh Marouf Mosque --------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// --------------------- Khafafin Mosque ---------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// --------------------- Ramadhan Mosque --------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// ------------------------- Martyrs Mosque -------------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////
\\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\//// -------------------------- Bunnieh Mosque -------------------------- \\\\////oOo\\\\////oOo\\\\////

I hope the city will be more friendly to all visitors soon and the travelers will be able to see all its beauty in the future!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Ancient history, affable people, a huge cariety of stores and restaurants
  • Cons:Islamic fundamentalism, economic situation, water quality, sand storms, roads...
  • In a nutshell:A Country Worth Visiting and Deserving PEACE!
  • Last visit to Baghdad: Sep 1983
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (69)

Comments (179)

  • globetrott's Profile Photo
    Feb 29, 2016 at 11:31 PM

    lots of great updates here as well since my last visit to this interesting page Victor !

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Feb 29, 2016 at 11:41 PM

      Thanks, Michael! Hopefully we can visit this city some day..

  • ADAMYAMEY's Profile Photo
    Jan 6, 2016 at 11:20 AM

    This is a superbly interesting contribution. After what Iraq has been through, your pages might become a valuable historical record.

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Jan 6, 2016 at 11:41 AM

      Thanks, Adam! I was lucky indeed to travel and to work there in those old times...I myself reread my travelogues here when I miss Iraq...

    • ADAMYAMEY's Profile Photo
      Jan 6, 2016 at 1:15 PM

      Both Iraq and Syria are places that I wish I had visited a few years ago.

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo
    Dec 15, 2015 at 5:23 AM

    Victor, thanks for the tour of Baghdad!

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Oct 12, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    How interesting to read of your experiences living in Iraq back then!

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Oct 12, 2015 at 11:21 AM

      Indeed, I have good memories, even though it was neither easy nor enjoyable at times...

  • greekcypriot's Profile Photo
    Aug 14, 2015 at 3:17 AM

    Lucky indeed, a destination you never dreampt of visiting.....

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Jun 29, 2014 at 4:23 AM

    I think you were very fortunate to have such a good job in Iraq for a year in the 1980s. Also you were lucky that nothing bad happened, since there was a war going on at the time.

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 23, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    This had to be an adventure for a young man and learning about the country and world, and then to also teach them later in life in Ukraine-you are fortunate.

    • hunterV's Profile Photo
      Aug 23, 2012 at 11:33 AM

      Hi, Bruce! I agree with you! ° I was lucky enough....

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Jul 24, 2012 at 5:46 AM

    Victor, i thought it was great how you describe getting the vodka into the country! You had three coffees in one years time? Amazing. What a great opportunity that was for you to work in such a different country from what you were used to. Would you like to revisit?

  • Dabs's Profile Photo
    Jul 6, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    Baghdad looks very interesting, I'm not likely to ever get there so was glad to see your perspective on it.

  • wise23girl's Profile Photo
    Mar 1, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    So many interesting pages.....where to next? Arab horses are the best...I have a 3/4 Arab...now enjoying the paddock.

hunterV Used To Live Here!


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