ERBILErbil (Hawler City) is the oldest living city in the world, the capital of the Federal Kurdistan Region and about 350 km2 north of Baghdad. It lies on a rich fertile plain between two rivers, the Greater Zab and the Lesser Zab. Already in the 23rd century BC, the location was an important crossroads between East and West. Assyrians, Persians, Ottomans, and Arabs have all ruled he area at some point in time.
The name “Erbil” was mentioned in holy writings of the Sumerians (about 2,000 B.C.) as Orblum or Urbilum and in the Babylonian and Assyrian texts as Arba-Elu. The Kurdish name “Hawler” is found from the ancient time. It refers to the ancient Citadel and Minaret. Throughout the history, Hawler has been the center of culture and trade in the region.
The old Kurdish name for Erbil, Hawler, means a city where the sun still worshipped, and prosperity shone upon Erbil, perched on the Silk Road between Europe and the Chinese Empire. The sun still occupies a central spot on the Kurdish flag.
The Citadel in Erbil has been occupied for 5,000 years as a fortress and inner city, and has always been an important trading post and multicultural melting pot. It is currently restored with the help of UNESCO, and will become an open air museum.
Modern Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan. With more than a million inhabitants, it is the third largest city in Iraq, as well as its fastest growing city. Ankawa, the Christian part of the city, it is now nearing 20,000 inhabitants.
ISTANBULIstanbul, a fascinating city built on two Continents, divided by the Bosphorus Strait. This is one of the greatest cities in the world where you can see a modern western city combined with a traditional eastern city, it's a melting pot of many civilizations and different people. Istanbul was also announced by the European Union as the 2010 European Capital of Culture.
From the foundation of Byzantium in the 7th century BC until today, Istanbul held always an important role in the history of humanity in this part of the world. Everybody wanted to gain control of this area because of its strategic location; Empires were born here on the ashes of previous ones.
Since the Republic in 1923, Istanbul continued to grow and today it boosted its population over 17 million people living in this spread out city. This makes Istanbul the largest city of Turkey and one of the biggest cities in the world
ANKARAAnkara is the capital of Turkey and the seat of its government, located centrally in the country. With nearly 5 million inhabitants, it is the second most populated city in Turkey after Istanbul. Much of Ankara is new and fashionable, while the old section of the city, Ulus, has an impressive, dignified ambiance, complete with crumbling structures from antiquity.
The city now called Ankara was built sometime during the Bronze Age by the Hattians. Since then, Ankara and the surrounding region have been possessed by the Lydians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and finally the Turks. After the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1924, Ankara replaced Istanbul as the capital of Turkey and the seat of its government. This marked a significant change in the city; the population increased from 35,000 to its nearly 5 million current residents. Many new buildings arose to accommodate the upsurge in population, transforming a city of little importance into a bustling metropolis.
Esenboga International Airport is the major international airport in Ankara, receiving flights from London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and others; you will need to transfer from one of these cities to get to Ankara. If you want to rent a car in Ankara, resist the temptation. Signs are incomprehensible, and traffic is often unnavigable. Use the public transit system for a much less chaotic transportation experience. Buses and trams go to every part of town. The underground train system is also a good way to get around. There are two lines, the Ankaray and the Metro, going west to east and northwest to south, respectively.
BAGHDADModern Iraq was born from ancient Mesopotamia, nestled in the fertile valleys created by the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. The country's glorious history continued with the arrival of Islam, and Baghdad became one of the greatest capitals of the religion. Recent history, unfortunately, has been less kind to the country.
Although the National Museum of Iraq was extensively looted during the 2003 Iraq War, plans are underway to reopen it to the public soon. Thousands of the stolen treasures have been returned to Iraq since 2010, and the building itself has been renovated with help from the governments of both Italy and the United States. The museum's collection is revered as one of the world's most important, featuring artifacts that detail Mesopotamia's 5,000 year history. Galleries are dedicated to the ancient Akkadian, Sumerian, Chaldean, Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations, and the oldest pieces date back to 3000 BC.
The skyline of Baghdad is dotted with many richly ornamented minarets and domes, many of which belong to mosques and shrines. The most impressive is the Al Kadhimiya Mosque. Built in 1515, the mosque remains one of the most important institutions in Islam and is an architectural gem. The magnificent golden dome was re-gilded, the outer walls were restored to their original appearance and the interior was retouched to highlight its glimmering mirror mosaics, colorfully glazed tiles and marble floors. Since the war began, the mosque has been the site of suicide and car bombings, but the structure has remained intact and hopes to one day welcome visitors from around the world.
Other notable religious sights in Baghdad include the Mosque and Mausoleum of Al-Imam Al-Aadham, built in 1066, the finely ornamented Mausoleum of Omar Al-Sahrawardi and the Tomb of Sitt Zumurrud Khatun, topped with a glorious golden conical-shaped dome.
ADANAAdana has a variety of cultural and historical values worth exploring. Adana, the fifth largest city of turkey, was Dom connected to the Hittites in2000 BC. The home of ten great civilizations, Adana is home to both traditional and modern structures.
Located by the amazingly beautiful Seyhan river in Cukurova region, which is situated south of the Taurus Mountains and well known for its cotton fields, Adana has a mild Mediterranean climate. While summers are hot and dry in Adana, winters are mild and rainy.
The land of numerous monuments from antiquity to the present, Adana welcomes tourist ant time of the year.
Adana, which integrates the abundant natural landscape with a modern infrastructure, is located by the Mediterranean coast.
STOCKHOLMSweden’s capital city spreads out over 14 islands in Lake Mälaren and looks out proudly to the Baltic Sea to the east. Her grand public buildings, palaces, rich cultural history and museums tell her 700 year-old history beautifully.
Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the Old Town (Gamla Stan); expect and get cobblestone streets, crooked but beautifully preserved buildings, the Royal Palace, gothic churches and excellent cafés, bars, restaurants and Swedish design-ware shops. Take our advice and get a hit of caffeine at one of Stockholm’s many fine cafés before trawling the boutiques, shops and stores of upscale Swedish and international design boutiques of Östermalm, and independent Swedish labels, vintage and retro shops and boutiques of Södermalm. If you’re a fan of Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy books and movies Södermalm is the place to be because this is the setting for the Millennium Tour