Sulaymaniyah is a very young city. It was founded in 1784 by Ibrahim Pasha Baban, a Kurdish prince to be the capital of his principality. Since then it has been Iraqi Kurdistan’s cultural capital and home to philosophers, poets and writers.
Its importance is not limited to Iraq, but for the whole of the Kurdistan region, which also encompasses parts of Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Sulaimaniya is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan.
One of the major cities in both Kurdistan region and Iraq, situated 385 Km north Baghdad and 198 Km north east Erbil the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan Region. The city sits between two chains of mountains,Goyzha & Glazarda longitude (44.50- 46.16) East and latitude (35.04 - 36.30) North. The city was founded by Ibrahim Pasha in the year 1784.
Today Sulaimani has developed in most modern life aspects, hotels, motels, supermarkets & Malls, theatres, restaurants & Parks. Slemani, as it is also known, attracted many Sorani-speaking Kurdish linguists and writers, and here Sorani literature was developed. These writers and poets are today revered with statues and busts in many parks and squares around the city.
There is an international "Sulaimaniya Airport" near Bakrajo, with direct flights from Dusseldorf-Germany, Dubai-UAE, Amman-Jordan, and Istanbul-Turkey. There are many services per day and people from all over the world come to enjoy the most beautiful nature in Kurdistan
The local population are known for being more open-minded and tolerant than in the rest of Kurdistan, and this is something I could perceive in the few days I spent in the area. Something that surprised me in Kurdistan, especially in Slemani, is that women seem to be more independent. In the Arab world women tend to seem quieter, overshadowed by their male relatives when in public, and never start a conversation with a stranger. Here, for the first time ever, I had local females starting a conversation with me on the street and in restaurants.
Sulaimaniya has a great view from outside, above the mountains around it,Goizha, Azmar, Piramagrwn and Baranan. The city is in the phase of transition from a usual city to a tourism city in every sense of the word.
The city is described on the Lonely Planet guide as a “cosmopolitan gem” and “a place to be discovered”. It is quite nice, I totally agree, but to me those words are an overstatement. From a visitor’s perspective, while it still has many places of interest, I found the city short of landmarks. The heart of the city is the old town, which despite the name, looks rather modern and it is deliciously chaotic as any medina in Morocco, for inistance.
The old town is dominated by a large open bazaar, which occupies several blocks. It is a market place selling mainly food, vegetables and clothes, and is buzzing from early morning to late afternoon. Right in the middle of all this is the Grand Mosque, which is open for visitors. In the area I found many small family run restaurants serving simple, tasty and inexpensive food.
There are a few museums, two of which should not be missed. The first, and most disturbing one, is Amna Suraka, the War Crimes Museum, based in the building with same name, used by Saddam Hussein to torture Kurds suspected of being a militant. Visits are guided and most guides speak excellent English.
The other one, more on the lighter side, is Slemani Museum, with an exhibition of archaeological artefacts, some dating back to 100,000 years. This is Iraq’s most important museum at the moment, as Iraq National Museum in Baghdad is currently closed. Entrance is free in both museums.
Amna Suraka (Red Security): The highlight of any trip to Slemani ought to be this museum, housed in one of Saddam's old torture facilities known as Amna Suraka (Red Security). Since the Peshmerga the Kurdish army liberated the prison in the 1990s, not much has changed the buildings are empty shells with bullet holes everywhere.
Great Mosque In the middle of the bazaar district is Slemani's great mosque. Not really an architectural wonder, or even very old, this is nevertheless a sort of hub, especially on Fridays. I'm sure it is possible to go inside if you visit after prayers have finished.
A brand new Chinese shopping mall opposite Kaso Mall, offering good views over the mosque from the upper floors. Possibly the only place in the world where you'll see Iraqi, Kurdish and Chinese flags decorating a doorway. Public Park or Baxi Gshty. The closest to the center of the city, it is a small one on Salm Street, almost opposite the Palace Hotel. This one is busy in the morning with tea drinkers, and had an "avenue of heads", stone busts of some important local historical figures.
Sulaymania museum a city in the midst of a tumultuous rebirth, so was pleased to see that it had a Museum, full of local treasures. Short walk on Salim Street from the Sulaimani Palace Hotel. Azmar Mountain Sulaymania is surrounded by high mountains. The mountain from the north just closest to Chavy Land is a very popular picnic site.
On weekend, many Kurdish families drive with their cars to the mountain to eat kebab and enjoy the wonderful view on city. And in the night many people go to the top of the mountain and take pictures for memory with an unbelievable view of the city in the night.
Sara Square like any oriental town, Suly has a local Bazaar where you can buy almost everything you need. The city is well known for this square. With a big picture of Shex Mahmood Nemir. And many people go there to sit, read books and chat. Sarchinar resort is about 5 km from the west of Sulaymaniyah city.
This a magnificent resort covered with trees and crossed the fountain of freshwater. This resort includes modern and comfortable restaurant, kids club, swimming pool and a zoo. It should be noted that nawroz and Jekjek resorts located in the same area.
You can spend your time walking on the streets day or night, with very comfortable temperatures (between 0-35C) most days of the year.
One can have a good time in Public Park the closest to the center of the city, it is a small one on Salm Street, almost opposite the Palace Hotel. This one was busy in the morning with tea drinkers, and had an avenue of heads, stone busts of some important local historical figures. or Mother Park or Baxi Daik north east of the bazaar, small but new and well designed, with a large statue of a woman as its centerpiece.
Azadi Park, it is somehow similar to the large park in Erbil. Azadi Park has the grave and legacy of the most brilliant and well known Kurdish poet Sherko Bekas the father of modern Kurdish poetry. It does have the obligatory enormous Kurdish flag fluttering above an abstract monument to something or other. The Bazaar Take any street off Mawlawi or Kawa streets and you'll end up in the bazaar. It is huge, and getting lost is part of the fun.
Azadi Park the city’s largest park, Azadi Park, which is just a few minutes walk from the bazaar. It is huge and has a giant mast with the Kurdish flag fluttering. Here you can enjoy amazing views of Azmar mountain and there are some small olive groves, playgrounds, artificial lakes and a lot of young couples doing things their parents would not be too happy about, like hugging in public.
The favourite park, however, is the small Bakhi Gishti, just outside the old town, near Sulaymaniyah University. It is full of tea drinkers, youngsters killing time, musicians and has an avenue of heads, with busts of famous poets.
The most interesting section is probably the maze of covered alleyways between the two main roads. The bazaar is built on a bit of a slope, so don't be afraid to go up or down any stairs you may come across. They just lead to more levels full of shops
There is a bowling center,speed center and many other places to go.
There are different types of amazing kurdish dishes. One of the most famous dishes is Yaprax, which you may not find easily in city restaurants, but in some restaurants you can find Kofta which also tastes great. You can go to Sara Restaurant near Xasraw xal bridge, where you can find Kebab, Goshty brzhaw (grilled meat) Brnj ("rice") shla and other types of food. Sara Restaurant is very good and clean. If you're looking for more international dishes you can have Pizza and Italian food at Roma restaurant at Tooy Malik.
There are two kinds of places to eat in the old part of the city: sit down places and sandwich type places. There are tons of sandwich type places. They cost about 1,000 dinars for a sandwich of chicken, meat, or falafel on a little white bun or else wrapped up in a flatbread. (1,000 dinars is roughly equal to a dollar or a euro)
In a sit down place, you can typically get rice, baked beans, some chicken and clear chicken soup with flat bread. In such a place you also pay about 1,000 dinars for each item so you end up paying like 3,000-4,000 dinars for your meal in such a place.
There are also pizza places and juice places where you can get delicious fruit juices, for less than a dollar. I don't know how much pizza costs but it's probably 1,000 dinars.
Coffee is not big in Suli, and tea is generally a better bet. As with anything here, there are many shops with basically the same selection. The local taste is for instant coffee, and the coffee section of a grocery store will be dominated by MacCoffee and Nescafe. Coffee beans generally come only as little bricks of Turkish coffee, 200 grams roasted dark and ground fine. If you don't want 1/4 cardamom, check the package to make sure it says 100% coffee.
Pasha's coffee, In the bazaar area, Walk through the gate opposite the Palace Hotel, and straight up the street to the first circle with the booksellers, go around them, and take the shallow right and look for Pasha's on the left. One of the only places in town with proper coffee. They have a sign in Latin characters, and there is usually a crowd of coffee drinkers out front.
You can get good espresso from the machine and they have bulk coffee (28 000 for a kilo of Columbian beans) and coffee makers in styles unavailable elsewhere.
Sulaymani Palace. For now, this is the best hotel in town, although it is by no means up to international standards. Nevertheless, it's a decent enough experience. It is however the best hotel you could get in the city. 100 USD. edit
Ramada Hotel Sulaymaniyah. A comfortable international hotel, not quite up to the highest international standards but it's still nice and clean and the food is pretty good. 100 USD. edit
Dolphin Hotel. No breakfast but very fast internet. Rooms are clean and nice. Right next to the old mosque in the very scenic old part of town. in the innermost center of the city, in the bazaar that you can get whatever in any time. 40 USD.
Unfortunately few people in Sulaymaniyah speak English and even Arabic, for that matter. The most intriguing of places is a bar. A simple bar. Who would have thought there are proper bars selling alcohol at daytime in Iraq? The place was fine, not a pick-up joint or anything to be wary of, and you can have a beer openly.
Tasting local food, visiting markets, museums and parks are a way to discover and understand a place and its culture. But to me people take the travelling experience to a whole new level.
The city was visited by more than 60,000 tourists in 2009.Sulaymaniyah attracted more than 15,000 Iranian tourists in the first quarter of 2010, many drawn by the fact it is not subject to strict laws faced at home. Newroz 2010 drew an exodus of Iranian tourists choosing to celebrate the event in the region.
Sulaimani Museum: It is the second biggest museum after the national museum in Baghdad. It is home to many Kurdish and ancient Persian artifacts dating back to 1792–1750 BC.
Victims of one of Saddam Hussein's campaigns are represented by broken glass and tiny lights at the Amna Suraka Museum (Kurdish: "Red Intelligence Museum") in Sulaymaniyah.
Amna Suraka Museum: Located in a former Ba'ath intelligence headquarters and prison, it draws particular attention to the Ba'ath regime's brutal treatment of local Kurds. Visitors are guided through the prisons and interrogation rooms. The museum features many Soviet-era armored fighting vehicles, also it's defined as a dedicated museum for Sulaymaniyah only.
Since 2003 Iraq has seen a huge economic boom. Sulaymaniyah's economy today relies on tourism, agriculture and a number of small factories, most of which are involved in the building trade.
In 2004 the Comprehensive Food Security and Vulnerability Analysis in Iraq released an in-depth survey of the Sulaymaniyah Governorate in which they surveyed each city. In this survey one can see the economic boom of 2003 mentioned earlier.
Sulaymaniyah is considered the center of the Sorani Kurdish culture in Kurdistan. It is recognized officially as the cultural capital of South Kurdistan. Development of Sorani as a modern literary language started in this city in the early 19th century, when many Kurdish poets such as Nalî, Piramerd, Muhamed Amin Zaki, Abdulla Goran, Muhamad Salih Dilan, Ahmad Hardi, Ibrahim Ahmad, Nuri Sheikh Salih Sheikh Ghani Barzinji, Sherko Bekas, and Bachtyar Ali published their works.
The city is known for its open, relatively liberal and tolerant society when compared to other cities of Kurdistan. The city has a Chinatown as a result of attracting foreign investment. Around 500 Chinese people reside in the city according.
In 2006 the Movement for Change started in Sulaymaniyah and challenged what it called the "corrupt" and "nepotistic" Kurdish Government. The movement gained massive support from the city.
The two independent newspapers Hawlati and Awena and the two independent political magazines Lvin and Shock, are published and distributed in Sulaymaniyah city.
Sulaymaniyah is the only city in South Kurdistan that regularly celebrates world music day or Fête de la Musique. Culture is hugely important to the Kurdish people, especially in Sulaymaniyah, but there is a strong pull to the west,modernisation and consumerism driven perhaps by the satellite televisions they have had access to since they started running their own affairs.
At the university, students mill around the campus, chattering with each other and doing some last-minute cramming for their exams. The war only stopped lectures for a few weeks. There are probably more women than men and they are happy to air their views to anyone who asks.
Public education is free from primary school until graduation from university. The University of Sulaymaniyah was opened in 1968 with instruction in Kurdish, Arabic, and English. It has faculties in engineering, agriculture, the arts, science, and medicine. It is the largest university in South Kurdistan.
A new University of Sulaymaniyah was established in 1991, teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic. And the second new university is Sulaimani Polytechnic University was established in 2012, teaching in Kurdish, English and Arabic.
In 2007 The American University of Iraq – Sulaimani,(AUI-S) was a new addition to the American universities in the Middle East, graduating its fifth class in 2016. Instruction at this private, not-for-profit liberal arts university is in English only, featuring a US-accredited program in English as a Second Language (ESL).
The Komar University of Science and Technology,(KUST) - Sulaymaniyah was established and licensed by the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research in Kurdistan Region Government, by the official letter no. 17867/7 on 18 October 2009. KUST is a private university governed by a Board of Trustees and run by an Administration Council. Its main campus is located in Sulaymaniyah. KUST offered its first teaching classes in 2010 with an English language summer course (levels 1 and 3).
The city is located in northern Iraq. Of the main population centers in the country, it is characterized by its cooler summer temperatures and its rainier winters. Average temperatures range from 0 °C (32 °F) to 39 °C (102 °F). In the winters, there can be a significant amount of snow.
Snow is not frequent in winter, but snow has fallen in Sulaymaniyah in January 2008,January 2010,February 2010,February 2011,March 2012,January 2013,and January 2015.