Erbil’s beautiful ancient citadel is a highlight for anyone visiting the city. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this old part of the city has been inhabited for 8,000 years and therefore offers a wealth of sightseeing opportunities. The citadel towers above Erbil and invites exploration of its magnificent castle, the Mulla Afandi mosque and its 18th century hamman, or bath house.
If you love indulging in some retail therapy then there are plenty of opportunities to splash your cash in Erbil. One of the largest and most modern shopping malls in the whole of Iraq is based there; the Majidi Mall has all the stores you would expect to find back home, with familiar fast food chains and high street fashion brands aplenty. Another must visit is the Qaysari bazaar; based in the city’s largest square, this vibrant market is the perfect place to find some hidden treasures and to test your bargaining skills.
Health services are readily available in Erbil, and vast improvements have been made in recent years. A good number of emergency hospitals have opened up and a drive has been underway to attract expat Iraqi physicians, with experience of western healthcare, to return to the region.
There are both government funded and privately run hospitals in Erbil that cover a wide range of specialties. Some of the most notable include the Emergency Hospital (with trauma and burn center), Hawler Private Hospital (with cardiac and orthopedic centers), Pediatric Hospital, and the multispecialty PAR Hospital.
The number for the ambulance service is 122.
Living in Iraq, you might think that terrorist attacks would be a real cause for concern, however Erbil is one of the safest cities and is located in the most stable region of the country. There are many checkpoints in to the city which are extremely successful in deterring crime, and the strong presence of Peshmerga, the Kurdish military forces, also keeps the peace.
Foreigners should avoid travel outside of Kurdistan, as other regions of Iraq and borders with neighboring countries can be extremely dangerous. Visitors should also carry identification with them everywhere to avoid being detained by the authorities. Photographing military personnel and checkpoints is strictly prohibited and could lead to confiscation of your camera and even detention.
The emergency number for the police is 144-124-104.