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Baghdad (Arabic: بـغداد Baġdād) is the capital and largest city of Iraq, with an estimated population of 6-7 million. Once one of the greatest centres of learning and culture in the world, Baghdad has a long and illustrious history. It was once a favoured destination on the 'hippie trail' and is packed full of sights.



Founded in 762 CE by caliph al-Mansur as the Round City, Baghdad became the seat of the Abbasid Caliphate and grew into one of the largest scientific centres in the Islamic world during the Golden Age of Islam. Five centuries of peace came to an end in 1258 when the city was destroyed by the Mongols who advanced westwards. After a period of Ottoman rule, Baghdad became the capital of Iraq under a British protectorate and as an independent state. Since then, Baghdad has been subject to war, terrorist attacks and attempts at reconstruction.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The national airline is Iraqi Airways[dead link] that operates a growing fleet of more than 30 modern jets. They mainly provide domestic flights but Iraqi Airways also offers flights to numerous international destinations, including a few routes from Europe. Numerous other operators in the Middle East also fly to Baghdad, with daily flights from most regional hubs. There are also a few low cost airlines such as FlyBaghdad that have flights to Baghdad. The best way to travel from Europe is either with Austrian or Turkish Airlines. They operate several direct flights per week from Vienna respectively daily from Istanbul. For those working for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Iraq, there are charter airlines operating into Baghdad.

The frequent sandstorms that hit the area can obscure visibility and cause flights to be turned away. It is not unusual for commercial flights to make it all the way to BIAP, and then turn around and return to their origin due to limited visibility on the runway.

  • 1 Baghdad International Airport (مطار بغداد الدولي) (16 km west from the centre of Baghdad). All of the usual airport facilities are available, such as banks, money exchange, ATMs, mobile phone companies, restaurants and even a hotel. The airport has three interlinked terminals. It is easy to walk between the terminals both land side and air side. One terminal is used by Iraqi Airways (the most counter-clockwise one) and the middle one handles all other flights. The food outlets are small and limited air side, so if you have a long wait, it is better to check in and return back through security to use the land side restaurants. When departing, be prepared for some queuing. Entrance to the airport grounds about three or four miles from the airport terminal will require you and your vehicle to wait in line to be searched. Security checkpoints can take from two to three hours to process through. BGW IATA Baghdad International Airport (Q304438) on Wikidata Baghdad International Airport on Wikipedia

By train[edit]

Nightly train services are available from Basra, arriving early morning. Prices range between 10,000 dinars for a couchette to 25,000 dinars for first-class. Irregular services from Karbala, mostly on weekends, are available too. Additionally, trains run twice per day from Fallujah. Due to the ongoing conflict cancellations are common.

  • 2 Baghdad Central Station (محطة بغداد المركزية), Damascus Sq. Completed in 1953, Baghdad Central Station is an architecturally impressive terminus, all trains call here. Located on Qahira Street, a kilometre north of city centre, at Damascus Square. Baghdad railway station (Q3544831) on Wikidata Baghdad Central Station on Wikipedia

By car[edit]

Overland travel is possible from all neighbouring countries and while major roads are generally in an acceptable condition, travelling by car is strongly discouraged due to violence. Baghdad is in the centre of Iraq's highway network, with Freeway 1 from Basra and continuing towards the Jordanian borde being the major thoroughfare. Confusingly, the road from Mosul is named Highway 1.

By bus[edit]

Multiple daily buses arrive from most major Iraqi cities. Long-distance bus services from Istanbul and Ankara restarted in the summer of 2018, with two departures per week. However journey time is a gruelling 30 hours or more. Most long-distance buses arrive at the sprawling 3 Al-Alawi bus terminal (گراج العلاوي), next to the central station. Buses leave and arrive from stands both north and south of the Allawi skyway.

Get around[edit]

While the almost daily bombings and shootings have subsided for the moment, there is always a risk of getting caught in violence when travelling around the city. Staying vigilant is essential. Many high-end hotels provide their own transport, some even with armored cars.

Baghdad is served by an extensive but chaotic bus network; maps and route information for the network are not available in English. Taxis are also plentiful and quite cheap to use. Walking is possible in parts of the city, especially in and around the old city. Cycling is not uncommon among locals, but there is next to no infrastructure to support it.


Bookstalls along Mutanabbi Street, in the old quarter.
National Museum of Iraq.

A combination of heavy redevelopment during the second half of the 20th century, two decades of warfare and neglect has not been kind to Baghdad's architectural and cultural heritage. Generally, the eastern side contains the older districts while the western side is newer. The historic old quarter contains a myriad of alleys and small streets with buildings dating back to the Ottoman era or even older. Many of them are unfortunately in various stages of disrepair. The old quarter is also home to the heart and soul of Iraqi literacy and intellectual community, Mutanabbi Street. The street is lined with bookstores and outdoor book stalls as well as cafés to discuss matters of the day.

  • 1 Mustansiriya Madrasah (المدرسة المستنصرية). Often referred to as the Abbasid Palace, this medieval-era scholarly complex was established in 1227 CE. It's one of the oldest buildings still standing in Baghdad and a central landmark in the historic district. Mustansiriya Madrasah (Q15260416) on Wikidata Mustansiriya Madrasah on Wikipedia
  • 2 Qushla building. Ottoman landmark building. Qushla (Q30687866) on Wikidata Qushla on Wikipedia
  • 3 Baghdad Zoo (حديقة حيوانات بغداد). The largest zoo in the country, opened in 1971. It was destroyed in the 2003 war but has quickly recovered. There are, however, few larger mammals to see. Baghdad Zoo (Q2349688) on Wikidata Baghdad Zoo on Wikipedia
  • 4 Khan Murjan (خان مرجان). First built in the 14th century as a caravanserai, an inn for traveling merchants, whose center was a hall more than 13 metres high. Khan Murjan (Q6400089) on Wikidata Khan Murjan on Wikipedia
  • 5 Firdos Square (ساحة الفردوس). A public open space surrounded by several artwork monuments. Firdos Square (Q138150) on Wikidata Firdos Square on Wikipedia


  • 6 National Museum of Iraq (المتحف العراقي). Covering the history of Mesopotamian culture, this museum housed a huge collection before the Iraq War. Today, many pieces have been looted and the museum is open only on special occasions. National Museum of Iraq (Q521251) on Wikidata National Museum of Iraq on Wikipedia
  • 7 Baghdadi Museum (المتحف البغدادي) (eastern bank of Tigris, 200 m from Shuhada bridge). History and folklore museum depicting life in Baghdad. Baghdadi Museum (Q10424690) on Wikidata Baghdadi Museum on Wikipedia
  • 8 National Museum of Modern Art (المتحف الوطني للفن الحديث). While much of the rich heritage of modern Iraqi art has been lost or stolen during the recent decades, the Museum of Modern Art still holds an impressive collection. National Museum of Modern Art (Q28717588) on Wikidata
  • 9 Natural History Museum (متحف التاريخ الطبيعي). Iraq Natural History Museum (Q10594974) on Wikidata
  • 10 Abdel-Karim Kassem Museum (متحف عبد الكريم قاسم). Small museum dedicated to the leader of the 14 July Revolution, Abdel-Karim Kassem, who overthrew the Iraqi monarchy in 1958. Abd Al-Karim Qasim Museum (Q28716348) on Wikidata Abd al-Karim Qasim Museum on Wikipedia
  • Iraqi Post Museum. Iraqi Post Museum (Q28716799) on Wikidata

Monuments, memorials and public art[edit]

Baghdad is home to many monumental monuments and displays of public art. Many were built during the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and evoke mixed feelings among locals, while others are universally loved. A large number of high-profile public sculptures were made by Mohammed Ghani Hikmat (1929-2011), nicknamed the sheik of sculptors.

  • 11 Monument to the Unknown Soldier (صرح الجندي المجهول). Inspired by the glorification of a martyr from the Iran–Iraq War. The monument represents a traditional shield (dira¹a) dropping from the dying grasp of an Iraqi warrior. The monument used to house a museum which is now mostly empty. Ask the Iraqi soldiers who guard the monument for permission. The Monument to the Unknown Soldier (Q7752141) on Wikidata The Monument to the Unknown Soldier on Wikipedia
  • 12 Al-Shaheed Monument (نُصب الشهيد) (east side of the Tigris river, near the Army Canal). First built as a monument dedicated to the Iraqi soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq war. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, it has been repurposed to a monument for all Iraqi martyrs including victims of his regime. The monument consists of a circular platform 190 metres in diameter in the centre of an artificial lake. A museum, library, cafeteria, lecture hall, and exhibition gallery are on two levels underneath the domes. Al-Shaheed Monument (Q310023) on Wikidata Al-Shaheed Monument on Wikipedia
  • 13 Swords of Qādisīyah (قوس النصر) (inside the Green Zone). A huge pair of triumphal arches celebrating the alleged victory over Iran. Also known as the Hands of Victory. It marks the entrances to a former parade ground. Victory Arch (Q1340523) on Wikidata Victory Arch on Wikipedia
  • 14 Freedom Monument (نصب الحرية). Located at the epicenter of Baghdadi civic life, the Tahrir square, this iconic and massive sculpture is one of the city's most well-loved monuments. Completed in 1961, the sculpture spans almost 50 meters in length and features bronze castings depicting the history of Iraq. Freedom Monument (Q12248479) on Wikidata Freedom Monument (Baghdad) on Wikipedia
  • 15 Kahramana, Sa'adoon St. Depicting a scene from the legend of Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, in which the slave girl Marjana outwitted the thieves by tricking them into hiding inside jars over which she poured hot oil. Kahramana (Q58883598) on Wikidata Kahramana on Wikipedia
  • 16 Save Iraqi culture monument (نصب انقاذ الثقافة). Built in 2010, meant to remind Iraqis on the fragility of its cultural heritage. Save Iraqi culture monument (Q16125881) on Wikidata Saving Iraqi Culture on Wikipedia
  • 17 Ashaar Baghdad. Dedicated to the poetry of Baghdad. Ashaar Baghdad (Q58883519) on Wikidata Ashaar Baghdad on Wikipedia
  • 18 North Gate War Cemetery. A Commonwealth War Graves cemetery, commemorating military personnel killed in Iraq during World War I and World War II. Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery (Q65242789) on Wikidata Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery on Wikipedia


A view of the Mausoleum of Umar Suhrawardi, with its leaning conical tower.
  • 19 Abu Hanifa Mosque. One of Baghdad's most prominent Sunni mosques, it surrounds the tomb of Abu Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence. Abu Hanifa Mosque (Q334716) on Wikidata Abu Hanifa Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 20 Al-Kadhimiya Mosque (الحضرة الكاظمية) (northwest of Baghdad). One of the most important Shi'ite religious sites in Iraq. It was finished in 1515 and the 7th Musa ibn Jafar al-Kathim and the 9th Imams Mohammed Al-Jawad were buried there. Al-Kadhimiya Mosque (Q154116) on Wikidata Al-Kazimiyya Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 21 Al-Asifyah Mosque. A complex of mosque, madrasa with school buildings, old courts and other former government buildings, and a palace. Together they form a complex that is a tentative UNESCO World Heritage Site. Alasifia school (Q12241633) on Wikidata Mosque-Madrasa of al-Asifyah on Wikipedia
  • 22 Al-Khulafa Mosque. Oldest mosque in Baghdad with parts dating back to 902 AD. AlKhulafa Mosque (Q12204233) on Wikidata Al-Khulafa Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 23 Al-Wazeer Mosque. Built in the 1660s. Al-Wazeer Mosque (Q22686775) on Wikidata Al-Wazeer Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 24 Buratha Mosque. Historic mosque complex, with some parts previously used as a Christian monastery. (Q12204312) on Wikidata
  • 25 Haydar-Khana Mosque. Considered one of the finest examples of the Ottoman constructions in Baghdad. Haydar-Khana Mosque (Q12204223) on Wikidata Haydar-Khana Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 26 Umm al-Qura Mosque (جامع أم القرى). A mosque built to commemorate the "victory" in the 1991 Gulf War, the minarets are shaped like barrels of guns and SCUD missiles. Umm al-Qura Mosque (Q1325641) on Wikidata Umm al-Qura Mosque on Wikipedia
  • 27 Zumurrud Khatun Mosque and Mausoleum (southeastern end of Sheikh Maarouf Cemetery). Historic mosque and shrine, dating back to the Abbasid era. Zumurrud Khatun Mosque (Q22689849) on Wikidata Zumurrud Khatun Mosque and Mausoleum on Wikipedia
  • 28 Mausoleum of Abdul Qadir Gilani. Mosque and mausoleum dedicated to Abdul Qadir Gilani, a 11th century AD mystic who was the founded of the Qadiriyya Sufi Order. Sheikh Abdul Qader al-Jilani Mosque (Q12186500) on Wikidata Mausoleum of Abdul-Qadir Gilani on Wikipedia
  • 29 Mausoleum of Umar Suhrawardi. A historic complex of a mausoleum and a mosque dating back to the Abbasid era and is dedicated to Shahab al-Din Abu Hafs Umar Suhrawardi, the founder of Suhrawardiyya Sufi Order. Mausoleum of Umar Suhrawardi (Q28716432) on Wikidata Mausoleum of Umar Suhrawardi on Wikipedia


  • 30 Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows. Built in 1898, it is the seat of the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon. Cathedral of Mary Mother of Sorrows (Q30674229) on Wikidata Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows on Wikipedia
  • 31 St. Joseph's Cathedral (كاتدرائية القديس يوسف). Seat of the Archdiocese of Baghdad, the current building dates back to 1866. Latin Saint Joseph Cathedral Baghdad (Q2942360) on Wikidata Latin Cathedral of St. Joseph on Wikipedia
  • 32 Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral (كاتدرائية سيدة النجاة). The main Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad. Constructed in 1968, in a striking modernist style. Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral in Baghdad (Q1355473) on Wikidata Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral on Wikipedia
  • 33 St. Gregory the Great Armenian Church (كنيسة غريغور الأرمنية). St. Gregory the Great Armenian Church (Q12236352) on Wikidata St. Gregory Armenian Church on Wikipedia
  • 34 St George's Church. Anglican church, built in 1936.

Synagogues and Jewish heritage[edit]

Iraq was home to a large Jewish population until the early 1950s. Many left for Israel, often forcefully displaced by the government. Today, only fragments remain of Baghdad's Jewish heritage and there's a handful of Jews residing in the city.

  • 35 Great Synagogue of Baghdad. Formerly the main synagogue in Baghdad, now abandoned and neglected. Said to be built on the site of a former synagogue, built by King Jeconiah, who was exiled from the Land of Israel to Babylon, in 597 BCE. Great Synagogue of Baghdad (Q5600071) on Wikidata Great Synagogue of Baghdad on Wikipedia
  • 36 Meir Taweig Synagogue. Only remaining active synagogue. Small and unassuming, visits have to be booked beforehand. Meir Taweig Synagogue (Q5274677) on Wikidata Meir Taweig Synagogue on Wikipedia

Palaces and landmarks[edit]

During the reign of Saddam Hussein, a large number of palaces were built. While not tourist sites per se, they can be of interest to the intrepid traveler. Many are in various states of disrepair and might not be open to the public.

  • 37 Al-Faw Palace (قصر الفاو). Also known as the Water Palace for its site beside the Tigris River. Used as a military base for US troops Al-Faw Palace (Q427756) on Wikidata Al-Faw Palace on Wikipedia
  • 38 As-Salam Palace. Home of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. As-Salam Palace (Q3564922) on Wikidata As-Salam Palace on Wikipedia
  • 39 Republican Palace (القصر الجمهوري). Commissioned by King Faisal II in the 1950s as the new principal Royal residence. The palace serves as a key government building and can only be seen from outside. Republican Palace (Q3564887) on Wikidata Republican Palace, Baghdad on Wikipedia
  • 40 Baghdad Clock. Landmark building with a striking large clock at the top. Baghdad Clock (Q4841809) on Wikidata Baghdad Clock on Wikipedia
  • 41 Baghdad Tower (برج بغداد). A 205 m (673 ft) TV tower. Was known in Ba'athist times as the International Saddam tower and is one of the tallest towers in Iraq. There's an observation deck at the top, which has been open intermittently. Baghdad Tower (Q107404399) on Wikidata Baghdad Tower on Wikipedia
  • 42 Central Bank of Iraq Tower (برج البنك المركزي العراقي). Designed by Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, this 37 story tower is set to become one of the most striking landmarks when completed in 2023. Central Bank of Iraq Tower (Q100258244) on Wikidata Central Bank of Iraq Tower on Wikipedia
  • 43 Bab al-Wastani (باب الوسطاني). Last remaining part of the historic Baghdad city wall.
  • 44 Iraq Royal Cemetery. Mausoleum of the former royal family, King Faisal I (1883-1933), King Ghazi (1912-1939) and King Faisal II (1935-1958) are buried here. Iraq Royal Cemetery (Q16128350) on Wikidata Iraqi Royal Cemetery on Wikipedia

Archaeological sites[edit]

View of the ziggurat at Dur-Kurigalzu. Notice that the structure in the foreground is a reconstruction.
  • 45 Dur-Kurigalzu. Situated along an east-west-trending limestone ridge between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, the town of Dur Kurigalzu was founded by the Kassite King Kurigalzu I in the late 15th or early 14th century BC. Today, the ruins contains among other a well-preserved ziggurat. Dur-Kurigalzu (Q622719) on Wikidata Dur-Kurigalzu on Wikipedia
  • 46 Shaduppum. Also known as Tell Harmal. The site has been occupied at least between 2100 BC and 1700 BC. Several artifacts from the site can be found in the Iraqi museums. Shaduppum (Q3481186) on Wikidata Shaduppum on Wikipedia


  • 1 Iraqi National Theatre (المسرح الوطني العراقي). National Theater of Iraq (Q6978911) on Wikidata Iraqi National Theatre on Wikipedia
  • 2 Baghdad Island Park (جزيرة بغداد السياحية) (12 km north of central Baghdad). Large outdoor amusement park with swimming pools, restaurants, cafés and an observation tower. Baghdad Island Park (Q12205434) on Wikidata


There are several ways to work in Iraq as a foreigner. For US citizens the most obvious is the US Army which still maintains personnel here. Next are the government contractors, such as the construction company KBR[dead link]. Many contractors hire personnel with prior military experience to return to Iraq. Persons with military experience or who are fluent in Arabic are especially sought after. Lastly, there are civilian government agencies in Iraq. USAID send their own personnel as well as contractors to Iraq.

The agencies above are all relevant for US citizens. Citizens of other countries with a presence in Iraq can apply for work through the respective agencies in their home country.


Rugs and DVDs are available to buy. Inspect the quality of rugs carefully: Some are cheap Chinese-made rugs, and many are extremely overpriced. Also, many DVDs, especially those from street vendors, are bootlegs of varying quality.

  • 1 Baghdad Mall (بغداد مول). Large upscale shopping mall in Baghdad, with both shops and restaurants. Baghdad Mall (Q28715019) on Wikidata Baghdad Mall on Wikipedia

Traditional markets[edit]

Traditional coppersmithing in a Baghdadi souk.

Baghdad is home to several traditional markets with vendors that both produce and sell their goods at the same market. One traditional art is coppersmithing with the Baghdad copper souk producing some of the finest copper artifacts in the world. However it and several other traditional crafts are in decline due to cheaper imported goods.

  • 2 Coppersmith souk (Souk al-Safafeer, سوق الصفافير). Souq Al-Safafeer (Q6802795) on Wikidata Souk al-Safafeer on Wikipedia


Restaurants and cafés have been notorious targets for suicide bombers in the past, making eating out a quite dangerous activity.



  • 1 Saj Alreef Restaurant (alt=صاج الريف - الكرادة), Al Wathiq Square، 62 St, +964 771 222 2860. Older but popular Baghdad restaurant featuring local as well as Western and Chinese cuisine. Comfortable interior.
  • 2 Barley Restaurant, 42nd St, +964 783 051 4375. Daily 7AM-3:30AM. This eatery has a kind of macabre distinction of naming their large shawarma things after landmines.


  • 3 Samad Restaurant, Rowad St, couple blocks north of Mansour St on right, +964 773 005 5333. Daily Noon-1AM. Lots of kebabs and other meat here. Buffet.
  • 4 Jadiriyah Floating Restaurant, Abu Nawas Street, +964 782 110 0101. Daily 7AM-Midnight. Not many places where you can eat aboard a ship in the Tigris River. Pricey and a good place to take the honey probably for a memorable buffet or masgouf and some bad Iraqi music.
  • 5 Oyoon Baghdad Restaurant, Alsadah St, +964 780 444 4001. Daily Noon-Midnight. Rather expensive, but suited to impress an audience or spoil oneself with its views over the Tigris River and elements of Iraqi culture in its decor and food. Featuring kebabs and biryani, western food, and ice cream. Also has hookah and a gallery of cultural relics to admire.
  • 6 La Vinto, 52nd St, +964 770 619 1919. Posh, and expensive, steakhouse with a large variety of meat.


Iraqi tea served at Shahbandar Café.

While Baghdad is undergoing something of a liberalization regarding both night life and alcohol, it is still not widely available and large parts of society frowns upon it. While some bars exists, particularly along Abu Nawas Street, a safe bet is always the bars of the top tier hotels. Many international organisations have their own bars as well, and some are open to outsiders.

Tea houses and cafés are however ubiquitous, and often open late into the night.

  • 1 Shahbandar Café, Mutanabbi St. The oldest operating tea house in Baghdad, established in 1907. A hub to discuss matters of the day over a cup of tea. Shabandar Cafe (Q20424692) on Wikidata Shabandar Café on Wikipedia


Most organizations arrange their own accommodation. Sleeping in hotels in the proper city is always a risk due to bombings.



  • 1 Baghdad International Airport Hotel (فندق مطار بغداد الدولي). A standard business hotel, but with quite a hefty price. On secure grounds at the airport and often used by people visiting on business. USD225 for a standard room, lower rates when staying longer.
  • 2 Inter Hotel, Abu Nawas St, +964 780 926 2844.



Stay safe[edit]

See also: War zone safety

Travel to Baghdad is not recommended because of security concerns. Westerners are particular targets of kidnapping and assassination by militant and extremist groups. Baghdad airport is secure, so transiting there if necessary is safe. See the warning on the Iraq article.

The easiest way to stay safe in Baghdad is not to go there in the first place, except for official reasons. Most expats and business travellers to Iraq hire a security detail which constantly monitors the security situation within Iraq and around Baghdad. Travel outside the International Zone is extremely dangerous. Roadside and car bombs are detonated every day in Baghdad. Many Iraqis are armed. Markets and popular gathering places are frequent targets of bombers. As a foreigner you are more likely to be targeted for kidnapping. Kidnappings are often financially motivated. These threats are not restricted to Americans or women. You are also likely to be refused access to accommodation as Iraqis will fear being targeted for supporting the occupying forces.


See also: Hot weather

Baghdad is prone to heatwaves, with temperatures exceeding 50 °C (122 °F) during July and August. Making the situation worse, frequent electrical outages means that even where there is air conditioning it might not work. Being prepared and staying hydrated is essential.



Go next[edit]

  • Basra — second largest city in Iraq and its main port city
  • Mosul — third largest city in Iraq
  • Assur and Hatra — archaeological sites from the Cradle of Civilization
  • Ctesiphon — archaeological sites just south of Baghdad
This city travel guide to Baghdad is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.