Iraq Holidays, Events, Climate and Sightseeing

Iraq: Holidays and National Customs

Public holidays

The dates for the Islamic holidays are calculated according to the lunar calendar and therefore shift every year.

During the fasting month of Ramadan, which precedes the festival day Eid el Fitr, Muslims do not eat during the day, but only after sunset. Many restaurants are therefore closed during the day. The Eid el Fitr festival lasts for several days.

Date Holiday
January 1 Id al-Adha (Mutton Festival)
6th January Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year Festival)
January Death of Iman Hussein
January February Islamic New Year Celebration
February March Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice)
March April Mouloud (birthday of the Prophet Mohammed)
1st of May Labor Day
June July Birthday of Iman Ali
July 14 day of the Republic
17th July Revolutionstaf
8th August Armistice Day (End of Iran-Iraq War)
October 3 Independence day
October November Iman Ali’s death anniversary
November December Eid al-Fitr (end of Ramadan)

Source: Countryaah – Iraq Holidays

National customs

For guests in an Islamic country, consideration for the local customs is required. Women in particular should pay attention to decent clothing.

During the fasting month of Ramadan it is better to refrain from eating, drinking and smoking in public. The sale and serving of alcohol except in the tourist hotels and restaurants is prohibited on Fridays and Ramadan.

Iraq: sightseeing

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Hatra Ruins (1985)

Hatra was a caravan town and the cult center of the region. A life in the desert was only possible because a nearby wadi had water. Hatra’s heyday began in the 2nd century AD, with Hatra being independent long before the city was occupied by the Romans in 235. Hatra repelled the Roman besiegers several times.

They used “Hatrenian Fire”, a mixture of bitumen and sulfur that they poured on the attackers, for defense. But the besieged finally had to give up. The city was never rebuilt after it was destroyed by an army of the Sassanid Empire. Hatra was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1985.

Aššur (2003)

The oldest finds in the ruined city in the north of the country on the right bank of the Tigris are up to 4,700 years old. Aššur has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2003.

Originally put on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger because of the Makhul Dam project, its future preservation is not guaranteed even after the end of the Iraq War in 2003.

Citadel of Erbil (Erbil) (2014)

Arbil (Erbil) is the seat of the government of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq – approx. 75 km from Mosul. The citadel is believed to be the oldest and continuously inhabited settlement in the world. In the course of renovations, all but one of the families were relocated. This family was allowed to stay because otherwise the citadel would have been interrupted. The citadel of Erbil is located in the old town.

For centuries, the citadel was an important center for the Sassanids, the Abbasids and for Christians, it is said to have been built as early as 5,000 years before Christ. Shards prove that settlement already took place in the Neolithic.

However, after the conquest by the Mongols, Arbil became relatively insignificant.

In 1960-1970, many buildings in the citadel were demolished to build roads.

It was not until the end of the 20th century that this almost unique cultural treasure was considered and further destruction prevented. The history of Arbil is marked by murder and manslaughter, wars and the persecution of Christians. The hill on which the citadel was built is between 25 and 32 m high and the area is approximately 140,000 m². There are three gates, of which only women were allowed to use the “harem gate”.

During excavations in 2009, a burial chamber from the Neo-Assyrian (around 1,000 years BC) period was found, in which, however, nothing was to be found except potsherds.

Tomb robbers had looted the chamber earlier.

The Erbil Citadel was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2014.

Marshland (Al-Ahwar) in southern Iraq (2016)

Al-Awar, which has been awarded by UNESCO, is divided into three archaeological and four marshlands in southern Iraq and is a protected area to preserve the diversity in the country.

The unique Iraqi marshland – one of the world’s largest inland delta systems – is extremely hot with little rainfall. In the archaeological cities of Uruk, Ur and Eridu one can find the remains of the ancient Sumerians who lived here in the delta of the Euphrates and Tigris

  • UrukThe Mesobothan city of Uruk is located about 20 km east of the Euphrates. The city is one of the most important sites in Mesopotamia and is eponymous for the Uruk period, which dates from 3500 to 2800 BC. Is dated.

    Uruk was already at the end of the 4th millennium BC. One of the leading centers of the Sumerian early period. Uruk experienced a second great boom during the Hellenistic period in the last centuries BC. The main gods were the goddess of love and war – Inanna and Ishtar as well as the sky god An and the moon god Nanna. Their temples were formative for the cityscape.

  • UrUr is one of the oldest Sumerian city foundations of the Sumer in Mesopotamia, the Mesopotamia, whose beginnings up to 4,000 BC. Go back BC. Ur is an important archaeological excavation site. The city is near the present-day city of Nasiriya. The ziggurat of the moon god Nanna, with a base area of 62.5 × 43 m – at a height of 25 m – is one of the most important buildings in Ur. The structure was built by the Sumerians under the rule of King Ur-Nammu and his son Šulgi around 4,000 years ago.

    And it should not be concealed that, according to the Old Testament, Abraham came from Ur

  • . Eridu was probably the oldest Sumerian city and one of the oldest cities in the world. According to the Sumerian myth, the first kings Alulim and Alalgar came from here.It really deserved the name city and marked the beginning of a kind of urban revolution, which was followed by numerous other cities.

The marshland (Al-Ahwar) in southern Iraq was added to the list of UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Sites at the conference in Istanbul on July 17, 2016.

Samarra (2016)

The ruins and archaeological sites of the city were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007 and also placed on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger. Many of the up to 8,000 years old finds discovered here at the beginning of the 20th century are in museums all over the world. The Al-Askari Shrine, an important Shiite shrine, fell victim to extremist attacks in 2006.

Babylon (2019)

Ancient Babylon is one of the most important ancient sites.

Babylon was the center of the Old Babylonian Empire more than 4000 years ago and is located around 90 km south of Baghdad on the Euphrates. The complex covers an area of around 10 km², of which only around 20% percent have so far been exposed and explored. The World Heritage Site includes the ruins of the city, dating from 626 to 539 BC. BC was the center of the New Babylonian Empire, as well as some surrounding villages and agricultural areas.

The remains of the outer and inner walls of the city, as well as the palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of ancient times. Babylon was an important center of power at that time, ruled by rulers like Hammurabi or Nebuchadnezzar.

The city is known for the hanging gardens, the temple tower and the Ishtar Gate, parts of which are exhibited in the Pergamon Museum on Meseumsinsel in Berlin. Babylon was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2019

Important cities


The capital of Iraq, which for centuries was an important junction of historic trade routes, is located roughly in the middle of the country on both sides of the Tigris. Climatically, it is one of the hottest cities in the world.

On the left bank lies the old town (Rusafah), in which some old mosques and palaces have been preserved. The Iraq war in 2003 unfortunately resulted in numerous destruction, damage and looting of the historically valuable cultural assets of Baghdad. A fire destroyed the national library with thousands of valuable manuscripts and the national museum suffered heavy looting.


The country’s most important port city is about 55 km from the Persian Gulf on the banks of the Arvand Rud (on the Schatt-al-Arab waterway). This is also where over 64% of Iraq’s oil reserves are located. During the Gulf Wars, the city was a major center of fighting. Since the withdrawal of the British army at the end of 2007, supporters of the radical Shiite preacher Muqtada al-Sadr have been fighting fierce battles with government troops over the oil port.

Arbil (Kurdish: Hewlêr) on the Tigris

Arbil, which is estimated to be over 4,300 years old, is one of the oldest continuously populated cities in the world. In 331 BC The battle of Gaugamela took place in which Alexander the great defeated the Persian king Dareios III. defeated. In the Middle Ages, this was an important trading center. While the historical part of the city is on the river plain, the modern Arbil is on the settlement hill. The governorate capital Erbil is also the seat of government of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan.

Mosul (Northern Iraq, on the right bank of the Tigris)

The city was an important economic center from around the 8th century and was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th century. After Sunni extremists proclaimed the Islamic Emirate here in December 2006, there was an increasing increase in acts of terrorism.

Archaeological sites

Hill of ruins (tells) of Kujundschik and Nebi Jenus

On the left bank of the Tigris, across from the city of Mosul, are the remains of the ancient Mesopotamian city of Nineveh, whose age dates back to at least 2,300 BC. Was dated. In the second half of the 20th century, mainly palaces and temples as well as parts of the ancient city wall and two gates were restored.

Ruins of Nimrud southeast of Mosul

The also located on the Tigris, in the 13th century BC. The ancient oriental city of Nimrud (originally Kalach/Kalhu) was founded in the 9th century and became the capital of the Assyrian Empire in the year 612 BC. Destroyed by Medes and Chaldeans. In the 19th and 20th centuries excavations took place, including large palaces and fortresses, obelisks and monumental figures. After the third Gulf War, American troops destroyed a large part of the facility.

Remains of the ancient city of Babylon

The formerly most important cultural and political center of South Mesopotamia and later the Middle East was later also the capital of the kings Hammurabi (1800 BC) and much later by Nebuchadnezzar II (640-562). The palaces and temples of Nebuchadnezzar II were restored.

The city-state’s heyday was between 1,800 BC. BC and around 100 AD. The city was on the Euphrates, around 90 km south of Baghdad.

Ruins of Kish

As one of the most important metropolises of the Sumerian-Akkadian civilization, Kish experienced Babylon in the 3rd century BC. Its bloom. Remains of three ziggurati, a large double temple and an early dynastic palace have been preserved.

Borsippa ruins

The ruins of Borsippa are located about 20 km southwest of Babylon, the former capital of Babylonia to whose empire it belonged. Evidence of the earliest settlement in Borsippa was found around 2050 BC. Chr..

After the conquest by King Hammurabi (1800 BC), the city lost its previous independence. The city had its heyday under King Nebuchadnezzar II (640-562).

The city was initially the center of the god Tutu, who was later replaced by Nabu – the god of power and wisdom. The local 50 m high temple tower (ziggurat) is particularly worth mentioning. This step temple was uncovered during excavations in the middle of the 19th century.

Remains of Ur

The ancient Sumerian capital Ur is also considered the birthplace of Abraham.

From the once glamorous metropolis of the 3rd century BC Remains of a step temple = ziggurat (built around 2,100 BC), the king’s cemetery and the district in which the house of Abraham is said to have been preserved remained.

Ruined city of Uruk

Here German archaeologists uncovered the remains of one of the world’s oldest cities, whose heyday dates back to the 4th century BC. Is set. Two zikkurati (temple towers) and several temples with unusual decorations have been preserved. The oldest known writings of mankind were also found here.


Medrese Mustansirijah in Baghdad

The Medrese Mustansirijah in Baghdad was built in 1227. Since the 10th century, a medrese or madrasa has been the name of a school in which Islamic classes take place.

Marjan Mosque in Baghdad

The Marjan Mosque was built in 1356

Abu Hanifa Mosque in Baghdad

The city’s most famous Sunni mosque was built during the Ottoman occupation.

It is located near the tomb of Abu Hanifa’s tomb – a founder of the Hanafi School of Law.

Al-Chadimijja Mosque in Baghdad

Completed in 1515, it is an important Shiite sanctuary in the country and houses the graves of the seventh and ninth imams.

Golden Mosque of Kadhimain

This Shiite building, located north of Baghdad, houses the tombs of the fifth and sixth Shiite imams and is therefore an important place of pilgrimage.

Najaf Mosque

Here is the tomb of Ali (Abū l-Hasan ʿAlī ibn Abī Tālib), the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed and founder of the Shiite faith, who lived from 600-661.

He was the son-in-law of the Prophet Mohammed because he married his daughter Fatima. After the Prophet’s death, he was caliph from 656 until his death in 661.

Old mosque of Nabi Jirji in Mosul

Imam Husain Shrine in Karbala

This important mosque in Karbala houses the tomb of the third Imam al-Husain ibn Ali (622-680) and is the most important mosque in Iraq. Al-Husain ibn Ali was the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed and is revered as a martyr. As a result, the city with its current residents became one of the most important pilgrimage sites for the Shiites.

The imam was killed on October 10, 680 during the battle of Karbala against the Umayyads under the caliph Yazid I (644-683).

Great Mosque (Al-Jamia) of Samarra

The building in the east of the city was originally built in 852 from clay and bricks.

The 52 m high spiral minaret, which is reminiscent of an ancient Mesopotamian ziggurat (temple tower), became famous.

Cathedral “Church of the Lord”

Before 2003 there were around 1.25 million Christians of various faiths in Iraq. In 2014 there were still 500,000 – with a decreasing trend. The “Church of the Lord” bishop’s cathedral, built in 1931, is located in a side street in Baghdad. Behind the church there is a monastery with a school of the Syrian Catholic Church – also for Muslim students.

Dams and television tower

Mosul dam on the Tigris

The largest dam in the country was completed in 1986 with the help of German, Italian and Austrian companies. The earth dam with built-in clay core is 3.6 km long, 135 m high and the width of its base is 300 m. In 2006, American engineers pointed to the increasing deterioration of the structure and described it as the most dangerous dam in the world in terms of its potential for internal erosion.

Haditha dam on the Euphrates

The construction was completed in 1986 with Yugoslav help and, with its 660 MW power plant, is the second largest hydropower generator in Iraq.

Technical buildings

TV tower in Baghdad

The reinforced concrete structure erected under Saddam Hussein in 1994 is the tallest structure in the country. It measures 205 m from the ground to the top of the antenna.

Ruins and palaces

Ruin of Bab al-Wastani (Abbasid Palace)

The ruin is located in Baghdad and was built in 1179

Palace of Qara Sariai in Mosul

The palace of Qara Sariai in Mosul dates from the 13th century.

Ruins of the Caliph’s palaces of Samarra


Iraqi National Museum in Baghdad

The museum, whose exhibits testify to 6,000 years of human history, mainly contains excavated pieces from the ruins of Mesopotamia and thus provides insights into the cultures of the Sumerians, Akkabians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Parthians, Sasanids and Arabs. Unfortunately, the stocks suffered heavy looting as a result of the war.

Zoological Garden

Baghdad Zoo

The former largest zoo in the Middle East was largely destroyed during the American invasion in 2003. It has now been rebuilt and its main attractions are mainly lions and rare species of birds such as eagles, owls and peacocks. Boat trips can be made on an artificial lake.

Natural beauties

“Eternal Fires” at Kirkuk

The region’s natural gas emissions have always been a special attraction.

About the author