Iraq: Cultural and Islamic Program - From Baghdad to Iran
Day 1: Bagdad – Karbala
Arrival to Baghdad Airport. Road to Karbala. Dinner and night in Karbala.
Day 2: Karbala – Babylon - Karbala
The day will be entirely devoted to visiting the legendary city of Babylon, with
a long drive but on very good roads both there and back. The existence of Babylon
is mentioned for the first time in about 2340 BC, a time at which the city was just
one town among many. It was only at the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC that
Babylon was to occupy a position of importance, with the arrival in power of a dynasty
of Amorite origin. They were to found the 1st Babylon dynasty, marked by the reign
of King Hammurabi who managed to reunify Mesopotamia and who is still famous today
for his code of laws. Babylon then experienced troubled times interspersed with
periods of domination, including by the Kassites and later on by the Assyrians.
But for a while, the city was restored to its former glory during the neo-Babylonian
period, famous mainly for the reign of Nebuchadnezzar II (604 – 562). He was to
make his mark on history by building and restoring the edifices you will be seeing
during the visit. The city then gradually declined until Seleucos 1 abandoned it
for Seleucia, the new capital founded in 300 BC. Although a powerful political centre,
Babylon also played an important religious role, becoming a holy place, respected
even by the Assyrian enemy. One of the clearest signs of this was the temple dedicated
to Marduk, the patron deity of Babylon, alongside the Etemenanki ziggurat, literally
meaning "temple of the foundation of heaven and earth". Nothing today remains of
these constructions but eloquent vestiges still illustrate the history of the city.
You will begin the visit by passing through the famous rebuilt Gate of Ishtar. It
opens onto the Processional Way, 250 metres long and 20 to 24 metres wide. At one
time it was flanked by one hundred and twenty life-sized enamelled brick lions,
representing the goddess Ishtar. This leads to the Lion of Babylon, a magnificent
basalt sculpture. After visiting the site drive back to Karbala. Dinner and night
Day 3: Karbala – Alhur - Karbala
Going to Al Hur alriyahi ( A brave leader took a great role in the battle of Karbala
with Imam Hussain) ( 10 km) far from Karbala, after that coming back to Karbala
to the restaurant and taking break in the hotel. Taking tour in Karbala city and
coming back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Karbala.
Day 4: Karbala – Kufa - Najaf
Departure to Kufa, which is the capital of Islam during Imam Ali era. In Kufa you
find Kufa historical mosque, which is a very fantastic and spiritual place. Inside
limits of the mosque you can see a lot of sacred spots which represent certain events
and personalities. We continue to visit Muslem Ibn Aqeel, Imam Hussain messenger
to kufa people, also we can visit Imam Ali historical house, Maitham altamaar mosque,
Hani ibn Irwa mosque, Alimara palace, the place where Imam Hussain enemy ruling
their affairs, can be seen in the same area. Having lunch in Najaf. We move by bus
to Al sahla mosque, where a lot of islamec historical places to visit, including
Imam mahdi place, prophet Ibraham place and many other holy spots. Coming back to
the hotel. Dinner and night in Najaf.
Day 5: Najaf
Visiting the holly shrine of Imam Ali ( peace be upon him) the cousin of prophet
Mohammad, one of great rulers of Islam, at the beginning you can see the attractive
golden tomb of the shrine which brings you back to the first time of Islam, Adam
and Noah were buried, at the same place. Close to Imam Ali you find Najaf famous
market. Lunch will be at 1:00 pm. having break in the hotel. After that, halt in
Najaf market and coming back to the hotel. Dinner and night in Najaf.
Day 6: Najaf – Uruk - Nassirriya
In the early morning, we drive to Uruk close to Samawa city. This day will be a
special opportunity to penetrate deep into the heart of the Mesopotamian desert.
We will drive to Uruk and begin the visit of the site, one of the most impressive
of all Mesopotamia through the quality and beauty of the remains. This was where
the first forms of writing appeared. Picnic lunch on the site. The city is identified
as the biblical Erech but Uruk was above all the city of the legendary Gilgamesh,
builder of its walls and central character of the famous epic. As early as the 4th
millennium BC, Uruk was an important city resulting from the amalgamation of several
towns and extended to area of 400 hectares in the 3rd millennium BC. As the main
city in the country of Sumer and most certainly the oldest City-State, its prospered
under the aegis of its goddess Inanna / Ishtar – the goddess of love and war. In
the Hellenistic period, under the name of Orchoï, it once again enjoyed a period
of success and was the capital of Southern Mesopotamia. Uruk retained this important
role under the Parthians and then declined before being finally abandoned under
the first Sassanid kings. Night in Nasiriya.
Day 7: Nasiriya – Ur – Nasiriya
Day devoted to visiting Ur, which is very close to Nasiriya. Morning departure to
this most symbolic of cities: it was already inhabited in the year 4000 BC and remained
so until the Hellenistic period. This timeless city saw the rise and fall of prestigious
dynasties, but owes its fame primarily to the biblical tradition which claims it
as the home of the patriarch Abraham. Ur was protected by the Euphrates to the west
and by a channel to the east which led to two ports because at that time the city
was on the edge of the waters of the Persian Gulf. The infrastructures bear witness
to an extremely busy port which enabled traders to enjoy successful business arrangements
with Dilmun (today's Bahrain) and Magan (today's Oman). Caravans laden with the
most precious products also left Ur for the rest of the Orient. Mid-way between
the two ports lay the official zone of Ur built around the sanctuary of the God
Nanna / Sin – the Moon god. It was in the courtyard of the temple dedicated to this
god that the imposing ziggurat, called É-Temen-NiGur, was built. Its name literally
means "house whose foundation creates terror" and its first level can still be admired
today. The exceptional wealth of Ur was confirmed by the discovery of 1800 tombs,
some of which are referred to as "royal tombs" owing to the riches they contained.
The discovery of the private residential quarter enabled researchers to piece together
the town planning arrangements in the 19th and 18th centuries BC. Houses were separated
by the narrow streets that are still visible. Lunch in Nasiriya. Dinner and night
Day 8: Nasiriya - Lagash – Ash Shatra – Tello (Ngirsu) - Nasiriya
In the morning, drive to Lagash, the ancient Sumerian city. We will take the time
to visit this major site, which is striking despite its starkness. The Sumerian
kings of the country of Lagash ruled over a territory of some 300 km² which comprised
three major cities built on the banks of an important channel fed by the waters
of the Euphrates: to the North-West Ngirsu, home of the god Ningirsu; in the centre
of the State was the city of Lagash itself and to the South was Nigin, home of the
goddess Nanshe, sister of Ningirsu. Lagash prospered in Sumer as the power of Uruk
and Kish declined. It was to retain a major role until the end of the 3rd millennium
BC. The city was famous for its oval temple dedicated to Inanna / Ishtar, and for
its temple dedicated to Ningirsu. Lunch in Ash Shatra and meeting with the population.
Relaxation on the banks of the Shaat Al Gharaf river. In the afternoon, visit to
the nearby site of Ngirsu (today Tello), former capital of the State of Lagash.
The city developed mainly between the archaic dynastic period and the end of the
Ur III dynasty (that is at the end of the 3rd millennium BC). The major interest
of the city is not the architectural remains, but rather the important archives
and the objects discovered on the site. For example, the 2,000 tablets from the
archives of the domain of the goddess Ba‘U and above all the Stele of the Vultures
evoking the conflict between the State of Lagash and Umma. Return for dinner and
night in Nasiriya.
Day 9: The Tigris and the Marshes
Day-long excursion to the Tigris and canoe excursion into the Marshes. Legend claims
this place to be the Earthly paradise. It is one of the largest ecosystems in the
world and one of its strangest aquatic environments, where man lives alongside animals,
birds and fish. The region is currently being rehabilitated after the dramatic and
aggressive drainage policy conducted under the regime of Saddam Hussein. This immense
body of water at the entrance to the Shatt-el-Arab, covered with reeds and dotted
with lake-dweller villages, is home to the Marsh Arabs. This region was already
inhabited 5,000 years ago, as witnessed by the Sumerian bas-reliefs. Since then,
the population has retained a lifestyle built essentially around fishing, buffalo
breeding and reed weaving. During this journey, we will meet the "Madan", considered
to be the oldest inhabitants of the marshlands and the heirs to the most ancient
local traditions. Return for dinner and night in Nasiriya.
Day 10: Road from Nassiriya to Iran via Basra.
After breakfast, way to Iran via Basra.