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Travel Warning WARNING: Travel to Iraq is advised against by most governments. See the Iraq article for more information.
(Information last updated 01 Sep 2020)

Shaqlawa is a historic city and a hill station at the bottom of Safeen mountain in the Erbil Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The city is known for its waterfalls, trees, and greenery. Shaqlawa is a lush and fruitful region with a temperate climate and was a popular summer resort among Iraqis before the US invasion of Iraq.



In 2018, it was home to 25,500 people. Shaqlawa sits between Safeen mountain and Sork mountain, 1066 m above sea level. To the north and east of Shaqlawa is the Surk Mountain (900 m high) and to the west and south is a mountain called Safin (1457 m high).

Shaqlawa has very hot summers and relatively cold, wet winters. Subfreezing highs are very common in the winter, which would present frost. Snowfall is not uncommon.

The local area is covered by various trees of oak, tannins, hawthorn and others, and these trees constitute an economic resource for the people of Shaqlawa. Various wild animals also live in those mountains: pigs, wild goose, wolves and birds of all kinds.

Chaldean and Kurdish Christians live in Shaqlawa. It used to be inhabited by Jews (about 400 people), but they emigrated from Iraq in 1955.


The Shrine of Raban Boya

Shaqlawa is characterized by the presence of several ancient churches and an ancient monastery known as the "Monastery of Rabban Biya", which dates back to the 4th century AD. It later became an important center of Christianity in the region, especially after its people converted to Catholicism in the 18th century. Also known about the town its poets and scribes, who were especially active in the monastery of Rabban Biya.

Get in[edit]

The city is 51 km to the northeast of Erbil. Buses and taxisvare available from Erbil.

Get around[edit]


Dwin Castle and cemetery
  • Dwin Castle (Dween Castle) (a 40-min drive NW of town; ffrom the Haji Badrua mosque on Route 3 outside of town, head west toward Pirmam, but take the first road on your right to the castle). Impressive ruinsof an Ottoman-era castle with stunning views. Below the fortress are the remnants of an ancient abandoned village. Across the road is a cemetery.






Stay safe[edit]

Go next[edit]

  • Erbil is 50 km (31 mi) away, so this is an approximately one-hour drive.

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