Breakfast at hotel's main restaurant.
Depart for the 7000 year old Citadel of Erbil – the oldest continuously inhabited city on earth (There are cities perhaps as old but not continuously inhabited). Erbil Citadel was once a Sumerian City called Urbellum or Arbella (4 gods) and it is believed that Abraham passed through this city on one of his journeys. It once housed the Temple of the Goddess Ishtar and was the city Darius III fled to after facing defeat by Alexander the Great on the nearby plains of Gaugemela. A massive restoration project is currently being undertaken by UNESCO. You will meet the site director who will share fascinating facts about this incredible ancient fortress (subject to availability).
Tour the famous Textile Museum in the Citadel. The museum, housed in a 220 year old residence features ancient Kurdish fighting tools, traditional dresses, handmade rugs from different regions and eras of Kurdish history, jewelry and photos. In addition to Kurdish antiquities there are a number of pieces from Iran and Turkey. Women are taught on site how to weave in traditional style with a goal to preserving the ancient arts of the land. The fascinating art of felt making is also practiced on site. At the Museums’ gift shop you will have an opportunity to acquire a sample of local crafts.
Across from the Museum is a large and well known antique shop where one can acquire a piece of Kurdistan’s history as well as its more modern crafts.
Choli MinaretTake lunch in one of Erbil famous local restaurants joined by Lolan Mustapha the Founder and Director of the Textile Museum who will share the fascinating story of the lost Arts of Kurdistan – now being restored through the efforts of Lolan and his Museum Curator Dr. Anne-Marie Diesser of Belgium.
Time permitting we will take a brief stop at Choli Minaret. The minaret is one of Erbil’s most famous landmarks dating to the Atabag period (12th century). The structure was built from burnt bricks and tiles imported from Egypt – a nation linked to Kurdistan in Antiquity. Due to the long term effect of deterioration, the essential part of the architecture has disappeared and thus the leaning minaret is the last survivor of Erbil’s most famous historical mosque.
Graveyard and Dwins Castle, said to date from the time of Salah al-Din
Depart for Dwin Castle and the surrounding ancient graveyard in the area known as the hometown of Saladin Ayoubi. Saladin was a Kurdish Muslim, who became the first sultan of Egypt & Syria, & founded the Ayoubi Dynasty. He led Muslim & Arab opposition to the Franks & other European Crusaders in the Levant. At the height of his power, his sultanate included Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Hijaz & Yemen. Under his leadership, his forces defeated the Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin, leading the way to the capture of Palestine & Jerusalem. Many have seen famous and better preserved examples of Salahadin fortresses – few have visited the place that gave birth to this incredible historic figure.
Tonight you will be dinner guests in the home of a local resident where you can interact with both expatriates living and working in Kurdistan and their Kurdish friends (five guests minimum only; smaller group TBA)