"Halabja Monument and Museum" Halabja Things to Do Tip by maykal
Halabja Things to Do: 3 reviews and 13 photos
Just before entering the town, you'll see a concrete monument under a Kurdistani flag. It depicts one of the most harrowing images of the chemical attacks, an old man cradling a young child in his arms, both lying dead in a street. Behind it, you pass through a checkpoint of sorts, and then enter the Halabja Museum. The building itself is odd, 3 arms (representing the third month) with 16 fingers (representing the 16th day) hold a globe up to the sky, although from a distance it looks like some sort of concrete circus tent or even a water tower.
Inside, you'll be adopted by a local volunteer and shown round the three rooms. The first is the terrible day of the attacks, recreated with shop mannequins and stuffed ducks, and it is hard to know what to think when the volunteer finds it all quite funny. The second room contains all the shocking photos taken by an Iranian journalist, the first to reach the town after the attacks. The volunteer pointed out his own relatives among the victims and survivors, but again kept making jokes with the other volunteers and asking us questions about American popular culture. A cabinet contains the museum's odd collection of prize possessions...Chemical Ali's pen, the Iranian journalist's camera, and some of Saddam's slippers. We were also shown a video of footage from the day after, with survivors being interviewed. The final room is the hall of names, all the victims arranged in family groups carved into black marble covering every wall, with Kurdish flags all over the place.
We were then taken into the cafe, a very plush area of leather sofas and thick carpets, where we were served tea and given souvenir booklets and CDs by some other volunteers.
It was a strange experience, not the sombre one we were expecting at all. In this tip, I've just tried to explain what there is in the museum, and to find out how I felt, please read the page introduction as I have gone into more detail.
Entry is free, although you might be asked for your passport to at the checkpoint.
Directions: Buses to Halabja will drop any tourists off outside the monument, and it is a ten minute walk into town.
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