Baghdad – A city gracefully picking itself up from pieces
Sitting pretty on the banks of the Tigris River, Baghdad is the capital city of Iraq. It is considered the second largest city across the Arab world after Cairo, the capital city of Egypt. With its snarled-up traffic, piled-up rubbish on the shores of Tigris, and lots of historic buildings in dire need of renovation, the city may not be the best tourist destination out there but certainly makes a good off-beat destination that calls for a visit. Travelling the length and breadth of Baghdad often feels like treading back a few decades. Thanks to its glorious past and cruel history of late, the city boasts an atmosphere that is rare to find anywhere else.
Having said that, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Iraqi people finally living a calm life and enjoying the most basic things like eating out in a restaurant and feeling safe. When it comes to travel and tourism in Baghdad, the Iraq capital now welcomes travellers with a broad smile and warm hospitality. The city is teeming with tourist honeypots and attracts those who are in pursuit of unusual travel experiences. If you consider yourself a part of this lot, then booking your flight ticket to Baghdad is your best bet. You can rest assured that you won’t be disappointed. Baghdad’s plenty of religious as well as historical attractions, amazing restaurants, traditional cafes, and a lot more are worth the exploration for sure.
Why people must visit Baghdad?
Apart from its museums, mosques, and monuments, Baghdad is home to markets, parks, and some of the best cafes, restaurants, and bars. The city is truly a foodie’s paradise. Beiruti restaurant and café is one of the sought-after and most calming places where you must try kebab and Mazgouf along with a cup of Joe and shisha. Other notable restaurants where you can treat your palate, include Sabah al-Arabi Restaurant, Olive Branches and restaurant garden, Samad Restaurant, Kebab Haji Hussein Restaurant, and Al-Faisaliya Restaurant & Café. If you happen to be a morning person and are looking to gorge on a scrumptious breakfast, then Kahi and Gamer Rasoul Restaurant has to be your go-to place. Tourists also take pleasure in bar-hopping in Baghdad, and Taco on Abu Nawas Street and D Lounge & Restaurant in Jadriyah just serve the purpose.
Baghdad is dotted with cafes with great interiors that exhibit antiquities which are a reminder of the rich Arab and Baghdadi heritage. Al Atrakchi café is one such café where colourful windows, tiles displaying flowery patterns, and embroidered cushions tempt you to spend more time than you had planned. Situated on Al Mutanabbi Street, Shabandar Café is another popular café that’s also a renowned tourist attraction. And, this is why there are high chances of you bumping into other foreigners. The café is kind of a gallery, the walls of which are adorned with old photos. Umm Kulthum Café, located alongside Rashid Street, is a café that commemorates the Egyptian national icon, actress, songwriter, and singer Umm Kulthum. Revered as the “Star of the East,” she is still honoured all around the Middle East for her achievement.
Best places to visit in Baghdad
Iraqi National Museum
Featuring one of the largest archaeological collections under the sun, the Iraqi National Museum is the topmost sightseeing spot in Baghdad. The credit for its existence goes to Gertrude Bell who started collecting the artefacts excavated by foreign archaeologists after WWI. The museum is home to impressive artefacts from ancient Assyrian, Babylon, and Sumerian civilizations. Also, tourists and locals alike enjoy going through the biggest coin collection in the world archived in the museum’s basement. All coins are made of gold and silver.
Al Mutanabbi Street
The one-kilometre-long twisty street of Al Mutanabbi is a famous street in the old part of the city and makes a favourite spot for locals to go on saunters in evening when it’s illuminated like anything. Aligned with bookstalls, galleries, cafes and bookshops, the street is named after its namesake poet who belonged to the 10th century. No wonder the street has always been the renowned educational centre of Baghdad. Al Mutanabbi also happened to be the venue of the first-ever book market in the city and has always piqued the curiosity of intellectual minds.
Baghdadi Museum is a perfect place to dig deeper into its local history. The museum boasts genuine wax figures that demonstrate the indigenous traditions, history and life scenes of the city. The museum is a fascinating place to peek into Baghdad’s wedding ceremonies, local attires, Islam customs, and everything that is an indispensable part of a traditional Baghdadi household. The museum calls for a brief stop-by and won’t demand much of your time.
Baghdad’s Leading International Airports
Baghdad International Airport is the leading airport in Baghdad and also the largest airport in Iraq. Located 16 kilometres far from downtown Baghdad, the airport serves as the hub for the flag carrier of Iraq, Iraqi Airways.