Winged Genie of Assyria

I was fascinated with the representations of winged genii carved on the walls of the palaces of Assyrian Kings. I saw them at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad during my last visit along with Lamassu. The genie is a powerfully built man, with wings sprouting from his back. Winged genii are not to…

Desert Truffle | A lesser-known delicacy of the Middle East

Truffles have gained widespread attention in the culinary world lately, becoming a favourite among chefs and food-lovers alike. Not to be confused with the chocolate confectionery of the same name, truffles are a type of fungus that grows near the roots of certain trees. Truffles were a mystery to the ancient world of the Greeks…

The Baghdad Peace Festival

Baghdad was founded by the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur in 762 CE. When he founded a completely new city for his capital, he chose the name Medina al-Salaam or The City of Peace. This was the official name on coins, weights, and other official usage, although the common people continued to use the old name. Baghdad soon became the home to pioneering scientists, astronomers, poets, mathematicians, musicians, historians, legalists and philosophers. The Baghdad Peace Festival was started in 2011 to remind people of that history.

Shahbandar Café | A traditional cultural café

Shahbandar café is one of Bagh­dad’s few remaining traditional cultural cafés. Since opening its doors, Shahbandar café had become a hub of Baghdad’s intellectual life, drawing poets and politicians to its wooden benches and photo-lined walls.  The café still stands, a testament to the resilience of the country and the capital, Baghdad, even if so much has happened here. From British rule to modern-day Iraq, Shahbandar has lived through the birth of a nation, the toppling of its monarchy, decades of domination by Saddam Hussein, the drama of the US-led invasion and the bloody chaos that followed.

Iraqi Museum | Refuge for relics of the past

The Iraq Museum is one of the best archaeological museums in the world, containing the material evidence for the development of civilised human society from the very beginning of its history. The museum enshrines Iraq as the cradle of civilisation, the source of writing and statehood. Their collection covers over 5,000 years of Mesopotamian history.

Monument of storytelling

An unparalleled monument to the ageless art of story-telling, the tales of the One Thousand and One Nights have, for many centuries, titillated the imaginations of generations the world over. With her hair flowing down her back, her mouth curved into just the hint of a smile, her bronze hands gesturing gracefully, she spins tales of thieves and sailors and magic lamps for King Shahryar, who reclines in front of her.

Masgouf | A smoky Iraqi fish that dates back to ancient times

Masgouf is one of the most popular Iraqi dishes – traditionally cooked on the shores of the river Tigris, a seasoned butterflied carp cooked next to an open fire. Originating in the basin of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, grilled fish has been around since the Babylonian times. It's one of those unique, exotic foods you just have to try in Baghdad.

Al-Kadhimiya Mosque, Baghdad

Al-Kadhimiya Mosque is a shrine located in the northern neighbourhood of Kadhimiya district in Baghdad on the west bank of river Tigris. It contains the tombs of the seventh Shia’i Imam Musa Al-Kadhim and the ninth Shia’i Imam Muhammad al-Jawad. Also buried within this mosque are the famous historical scholars, Shaikh Mufid and Shaikh Nasir ad-Dīn aṭ-Ṭusi. Due to its special geographical location, Kadhimiya has been considered important and its history is thought to date back before Jesus Christ. This place was then known as Shoneezi, an Arab name meaning the Black Grain.