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Book a flight to Baghdad with Qatar Airways and explore a city with a deep heritage and welcoming culture.When you travel to Baghdad, you will find that the Iraqi capital has reverently maintained its ancient roots, balancing modern architecture with beautiful legacy brickwork. A warm and effusive people live among traditional and modern structures; 21st-Century Baghdad is a far cry from its once-dusty appearance.
Through an ambitious palm-tree-planting programme, the city has also regained its oasis-like atmosphere, with lush greenery serving as an eye-catching backdrop to elegant cream-coloured buildings.
If you want to get an idea of how Baghdad looked in its early years, then pay a visit to Abbasid Palace, an undulating masterpiece of rolling arches and intricate muqarnas. It offers superb views over the Tigris River, once you’ve finished investigating the two storeys of its opulent interior.
Baghdad is also home to one of the world’s most impressive archaeological sites. The Ancient City of Ur is composed of old houses and crumbling ziggurats, ravaged by time and desert winds. Millennia of wear and tear amplify Ur’s eerie surroundings, much of which dates back as far as 4000 BC.
Art aficionados are in for a treat when they travel to Baghdad, and the National Museum of Modern Art in Kifah Street is a great place to start. The building itself is imposing, while within lie beautifully restored galleries and state-of-the-art climate control. You will find stunning examples of art in all its forms, from paintings and sculptures, to ornate friezes and ceramics.
While cultural pursuits will take the lion’s share of your time in Baghdad, there are other activities to consider. Haggling is something of a national pastime and the ideal place to flex your bargaining muscles is in the Baghdad Bazaar. This is where deals are done, tea is drunk and life is lived. The tunnels and streets of the bazaar are packed with traders, buyers and children looking for sweet treats. It’s a feast for the senses, with the aromas of spices, teas, fresh bread and perfumes pervading the air, and music and chatter everywhere you go.
The key to haggling is to make it good-natured and never start something you’re not prepared to finish. Once you’ve begun the process, the unspoken rule is that, at some point, you will buy.
If you want to spend a lazy day in the company of exotic creatures, head to Al Zawra’a Zoo, home to over 1,000 animals. Originally opened in 1971, as Baghdad Zoo, it is a 200-acre sanctuary in the Al Zawra’a Gardens area. Nearby there is also the Al Zawra’a Dream Park – a great family amusement centre – and Zawra'a Tower.
A trip to Baghdad will take you on a culinary tour of Asia, China and Central Africa; each of these regions, and their cultures, have left their mark here.
Bazaars offer a chance to sample the local equivalent of fast food, with street vendors selling dishes such as kubbat mousel, which is layers of burghul crackers, sandwiching lamb cooked with raisins and almonds. Sheikh Mahshi is another popular dish, served on the street and in restaurants. These are small aubergines, stuffed with meat, courgettes and spices and served with fresh tomato and onion sauce.
If the idea of a bazaar is a little too much for you, then you can always lose yourself in one of Baghdad’s many shopping malls. These are a much more conventional shopping experience, with balcony-cafés serving tea or strong, aromatic coffee to weary shoppers.
Maxima Hall is one of the larger malls, boasting a private park and a dedicated children’s area. You’ll also find plenty of shops stocking both national and international brands.
Essential facts about Baghdad
Enjoy a hassle-free journey with all the information you need to know before your trip