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Iraq: Minaret Park

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Minaret Park | Iraq | Asia

[Visited: January 2014]

The taxi I had taken from Duhok had dropped me off on the northern side of the city of Erbil, and since the weather was nice, and I thought I still had time on my sleeve before my flight back home later in the afternoon, I decided to walk through the heart of the city. I skirted the Citadel, which I would have loved to visit, but unfortunately, it was off limites for visitors, so I had to pass by and look up the ancient walls that were looming high above me. A little further south, it was easy enough to spot the minaret after which Minaret Park is named. Alas: to my dismay, I found the gate closed. I walked around the outer walls, hoping to at least have a glimpse of the minaret. Standing on my toes, I managed to take some shots, but was disappointed, as I did not see anyone inside. I continued walking around the walls, secretly looking for a way to climb over the fence. Once again, I was happy to be travelling light.

Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): The pompous entrance of Minaret Park

There would be one more surprise, however: a little further down the road, I found a small gate that was open. When I walked inside, I finally saw families and groups of friends inside, enjoying the warm January sun. Of course, the flowers of the park were not blooming, but I had come only for the minaret. I walked towards the tilting structure again. A lane with white busts of (I assumed) important Islamic scholars, including some women, on both sides, made approaching the 13th century minaret a formal affair. At the end of the lane, I found a small square: to my left, the brick minaret, with decorations all around it; while on my right, I stood eye to eye with a larger than life white statue of an old, wise, bearded man with a big book in his hands.

Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): White bust in the foreground, minaret in the background

Less than ten minutes ago, I had been on the other side of the fence, desperately trying to get a glimpse of the minaret and the big statue; now, they were all mine, as there was no one else around. The gate to the minaret was closed, but I could anyway get a good view of the tower that had seen so much history at its feet over the centuries since Muzzaffar al-Din Kokbari had it constructed. It is, in fact, the only medieval structure outside the Citadel that still exists. Where I had been disappointed before, I was now truly happy, and walked back to the main street. I tried to imagine what the park must look like in spring or summer; now, the fountains were dry, the bushes and trees barren, and most of the benches empty. The only other parts worth mentioning were an eagle-shaped shrubbery, and a model of the Citadel of Erbil. Shortly after I walked out of the monumental gate, I chartered a taxi, and before I knew it, my visit to Kurdistan and northern Iraq had come to an abrupt end.

Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): Minaret in the background of lane with white busts
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): The entire minaret of Minaret Park visible on this picture
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): The brick minaret of Minaret Park basking in the sun
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): Statue of man reading a book in Minaret Park
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): The decorated brick minaret in Minaret Park
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): Eagle-shaped shrubbery in Minaret Park
Picture of Minaret Park (Iraq): Miniature version of the Citadel of Erbil on display in Minaret Park

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