"Slemani" As Sulaymaniyah by maykal

As Sulaymaniyah Travel Guide: 25 reviews and 48 photos

I'm finding this quite a difficult intro to write for some reason. It's not because Slemani was fantastic...it wasn't. But it wasn't awful either. It was nice. That's probably the best way to describe it. Nice.

Like all the other tourists I met in Iraqi Kurdistan, I'd done my homework online and following links and doing searches led me to downloading some pages from Lonely Planet's Iraq chapter. I'm not sure what tea the LP author was drinking, but it can't have been legal...Slemani was described as "cosmopolitan", "a gem" waiting to be discovered before the masses arrive, and from his over-the-top descriptions I was fooled into believing Slemani to be a cross between arty Istanbul and beautiful Esfahan surrounded by enormous mountains... the reality fell somewhat short.

I liked Slemani, not because of the imaginitive write-up it received, but because it was a friendly sort of place, likeable...erm...nice. The weather wasn't kind, as I had a day of rain, and once that had stopped, it became fairly humid, so the stunning mountain backdrop as described by LP stayed shrouded in a haze. But that didn't stop me enjoying wandering round the huge bazaar which is definitely on par with Erbil's Qaysari Bazaar. I did a fair bit of walking too, out to the infamous Amna Suraka security museum twice, to the largest city park, and out to the upmarket suburbs where again Slemani rivals Erbil with its many new shopping malls.

Maybe the best thing in Slemani was the Sha'ab Chaixana. No, forget the maybe...it was the best thing. After a sombre day trip to nearby Halabja, we got talking to someone on the bus back to Slemani who invited us for tea...we passed through a nondescript door, down a corridor, and emerged into an amazing teahouse where Slemani's intellectuals and artists gather to peruse the bookshelves, play dominoes, smoke nargileh and sip tea. No other teahouse in Iraqi Kurdistan compared, so it's almost worth recommending a trip out to Slemani just for the Sha'ab Chaixana.

  • Last visit to As Sulaymaniyah: Apr 2010
  • Intro Updated May 17, 2010
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