Travel postcard: 48 hours in Baghdad, Iraq

Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:50am EDT
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By Yara Bayoumy

BAGHDAD (Reuters Life!) - Home to what many call the Cradle of Civilization, and whose capital was later immortalized for its splendor and sensuality in tales of the "Arabian Nights," Iraq has millennia of rich history to offer tourists.

But while violence is down to lows not seen since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, insurgents are still capable of launching attacks, making Iraq a highly dangerous destination for all but the most adventurous of tourists.

In March, Iraq actually received its first group of Western tourists since the fall of Saddam Hussein, but in August, attacks across the country and in Baghdad killed some 393 people in one of the bloodiest months of the year.

If the violence dies down and security improves, tourists with a keen interest in the Middle East would find Mesopotamia, the old Greek name meaning the "Land of the two Rivers" for what is now Iraq, a fascinating place to visit.

Below, a Reuters correspondent with local knowledge helps you make the most of your stay. If you don't speak Arabic, it would be ideal to travel with an English-speaking Iraqi driver who has local knowledge of the security situation.

Women should dress conservatively generally, and on some occasions, especially when visiting religious sites, will need to wear a headscarf.


Noon - Once the capital of a medieval caliphate, Baghdad has been home to many notable Arab poets and novelists. Pay them homage by visiting the book market, open every Friday, on al-Mutanabi Street, named after a renowned 10th century poet.   Continued...

<p>An aerial view of Baghdad January 4, 2008. REUTERS/Mahmoud Raouf Mahmoud</p>