I hitchhiked from Sulaymaniyah in Iraqi Kurdistan to Silopi in Turkish Kurdistan (map path). Below are some pictures that I took along the way.
This is the main market in Sulaymaniyah, cultural capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. Sulaymaniyah’s suburbs sprawl into the brown naked hills that ring the city. Because of its location in a valley, the city is shrouded in thick smog before the afternoon winds arrive. After the smog dissipates, the market becomes populated.
Food in Iraqi Kurdistan is cheap and delicious. Bakeries, tea houses, and small shops are wedged between apartment buildings. These bakers were enthusiastic about getting their picture taken.
Qizqapan is rumored to be the tomb of Median King Cyaxares. Cyaxares’ forces clashed with the Lydians in the battle of Halys. During the battle, an eclipse occurred. Interpreting this as an omen, the opposing sides agreed to stop the bloodshed. Because it occurred during The Eclipse of Thales, this battle is the oldest historical event that is known to the exact day. The Ionian columns that flank the tomb’s entrance predate any Ionian columns in Greece, which has led some historians to conclude that this architectural style was invented first by the Medians. Also, in contrast to its standard depiction, the Faravahar symbol left of the tomb’s entrance has wings that curl upwards. I’m not sure why someone spray-painted ناتۆ (NATO) all over the tomb’s facade.
Peshmerga soldiers control the roads, making Iraqi Kurdistan an island of stability in a war-torn region. Many Kurds are fond of the Bush administration for ending the regime of Saddam Hussein – although the invasion has caused the rest of Iraq to descend into chaos, Kurdistan was able to free itself from the weakened central government and flourish independently.
Mor Gabriel was founded in the fourth century, making it the oldest Syriac Orthodox monastery in the world. While exploring the monastary, I came across Mor Timotheos Samuel Aktas, archbishop of the Tur Abdin diocese. His secretary served me tea and we talked about Syriac Christian culture and the strained relationship between Assyrians and their Turkish neighbors. Much like the Armenians, Assyrians are seeking international recognition for a genocide committed against their people by the Turkish government in the early 20th century.
Another Sulaymaniyah Market Scene