Arrival to Amman, Jordan.
Our journey to the land between two rivers start with our arrival at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, the capital of Jordan. After Immigration and Custom formalities, we are met, welcomed and transferred to our hotel. The drive to the hotel gives a good opportunity to see the city.
We have elected to keep this day free in Amman to work on our Iraqi visas. If our presence is not required at the Embassy we will throw in a tour of Amman. Amman the capital offers both the old and new. Our half-day tour starts with a visit first to see the Roman Amphitheater followed by the Citadel, the Archeological Museum and the beautiful King Abdullah Mosque.
The excitement kicks in today as we prepare for our journey to Iraq. We take an early morning desert drive to Baghdad where at the international frontier we prepare first with the exit formalities of Jordan which will be followed by the Iraqi border formalities. Once that is done we continue with our journey to Baghdad – the majestic world center during medieval times. Time permitting; we will go around the city to see the “post war Baghdad”, the capital city of the country.
Our first exposure to Mesopotamia is as we drive northwards to the city of Mosul. En route we visit the ancient city of Samarra famous for the spiral Minaret and the beautiful shrine of Imam Ali El Hadi and the Great Mosque. Close to Samarra is the place where the last Imam of Shiite Islam disappeared. The countryside drive gives us an interesting understanding of the rural set up of Iraq.
Our day begins with a visit to Nimrud, the second Assyrian capital, where we visit the well-stocked museum. This is followed by a visit to the Palace of Assurnasirpal II. Afternoon, we continue our tour of Nineveh, the third Assyrian capital followed by a visit to the Biblical Jonah’s tomb. The tomb is a beautiful piece of architecture and offers a beautiful aerial view of the city. We also visit the shrine of Imam Yahya bin el Qasim, Bash Tapia castle, the Attahira Church and the Qara Serai – the Black Palace. En route to our hotel, a stop will also be made at the 52 meter bent Minaret of the Great Nurid Mosque. We then continue to see the post war Kurdish area of Iraq.
Morning we take a tour of Mosul city which is the third largest city in Iraq. It is mostly inhabited by Iraqi Christians and has some interesting churches including the Clock & Latin Church. Mosul was once a walled city and has some interesting bazaars too. We then head southwards to Baghdad. En route we stop at villages and get an idea of the rural life in Iraq.
Location: Baghdad- Babylon-Hilla
An exciting day ahead as we start with a visit to the incredible and magnificent Ukhaider castle followed by the holy city of Kerbala where the Shiite Imam Hussein fought a tragic battle. It is today the most important pilgrimage site in Iraq and is always full of pilgrims from different parts of the world. Afternoon we continue our drive to Babylon – the ancient city of Mesopotamia that flourished between 2000 and 323 BC. It was the capital of Hummurabi (1792-1750 BC) and later restored from the destruction done by Assyrians It became noted for its hanging gardens – one of the seven wonders of world. We visit this huge site where a lot of it is still preserved including seeing the famous Lion of Babylon.
Today we proceed southwards to Basra visiting first Borsippa ziggurat with its dark green lumps of molten bricks and the holy cities of Kufa and Najaf. Next, we visit the Summerian city of Ur with its wind swept ziggurat. Sumerian civilization dates back from 4000 to 2000 BC. With a highly developed civilisation known for its agriculture and canal systems. We then visit ancient Babylonian city of Ur – the birthplace of Prophet Abraham. We also visit the restored house where Prophet Abraham resided.
This morning we take a brief tour of the second largest city in Iraq. Founded in 637 AD, Basra is located in the south at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and is in close proximity to Kuwait. Basra’s Bazaar in the Ashar district is full of old houses with balconies leaning into the narrow streets and beautiful wooden facades in the style of old Arabian architecture. Our next stop is to Qurna where we visit the actual place that housed the legendary Garden of Eden. This is where the Euphrates and Tigris meet. The village near the town of Qurna depicts bygone day by even Iraqi standards. We visit the villages before heading back to the capital city of Baghdad.
Our day tour of Baghdad starts with the Ctesiphon – the widest single span vault of brickwork in the world and the Kassite ziggurat of Agagourf. We then visit the National Museum followed by a tour of the city with its many elegant mosques, well laid out streets and souqs. Baghdad has several beautiful bridges linking the different parts of the cities across the Tigris river. It was established in 762 AD as the Abbasid capital and grew up to be the financial and more importantly the cultural center especially during the reign of Haroon Al Rashid. We will also visit the war torn areas of Baghdad.
In the morning we head off for Tehran by flight, where upon arrival we are transferred to Imam International Airport for departure flight.