Tourist Sites in Iraqi Kurdistan (Suly and Erbil)

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Between Iraq and a Hard Place: Episode 55

Learn more at www.ServantGroup.org/Iraq and email Hannah at hannah@servantgroup.org with questions, comments, or suggestions!

Here's a rough transcript!

Hannah: Welcome to between Iraq and a Hard Place! I'm Hannah!

Colleen: And I'm Colleen! And we're here to tell you a little bit about life in Iraq!

Hannah: Wooho!

Colleen: Today, we're going to take a bit of a trip through Kurdistan…

Hannah: A tour, if you will…

Colleen: Indeed, we're going to be tourists--or tour guides--for all of the different places we've been and some of the places that are really popular that maybe we haven't been and some of the places that are really just gone to by Kurds and some places that are really just gone to by foreigners who visit.

Hannah: Tourism is kind of not necessarily a new concept in Kurdistan. It's still a little bit of a Wild West kind of a concept, I guess I would say.

Colleen: Well, they definitely have two major groups of people who are coming: there are people from other parts of Iraq or the Middle-East who come and then, you know, there's this desire to get more and more of Europeans or other Asians or Americans.

Hannah: And we do have to also qualify that for both of us, it's been quite a while since we've been to some of these places. Things change.

Colleen: Things change. That whole Wild West thing applies even when you're talking about ruins that are thousands of years old.

Hannah: It's true. I will say, though, for me two things always surprise me about going to significant places in Kurdistan. One, if you went somewhere ancient you were allowed to get up close and personal, like there are no barriers or guards or people standing there being like, "Please don't touch that."

Colleen: Right.

Hannah: Like they're they're a little bit taken for granted.

Colleen: I mean there are a lot of them!

Hannah: That's true.

Colleen: That seems a little bit fair.

Hannah: And the second one is that, in my experience with, like, natural beauty… You know, in the US we have tons of state and national parks so that when we go to see a waterfall, you can go up to it and like play around in it and it's just a bunch of people playing around in nature where, in my experience in Kurdistan, it's like "Look at this beautiful waterfall with a restaurant that's built right next to it!"

Colleen: Yeah, and like all sorts of little boats and flags and paintings on the rocks.

Hannah: Or you could pay to like go up to the waterfall and get in it. It was just much more tourist trap-like, commercialized in a way that I'm not really used to. Like, Americans value wilderness as wilderness on some level…

Colleen: Yeah, at least some.

Hannah: And perhaps that's a more recent history for the US than long term, but those are always the two things that I think about when I think of Kurdish tourism. Like, yeah, you can get up close and personal, but also sometimes it's very commercial.

Colleen: Not exactly the pleasant experience that we would hope for as an American, but that's not to say that our Kurdish friends didn't really love some of those places.

Hannah: Yeah, they absolutely did! They absolutely did.

Colleen: So where should we start? We have a long list of different things, some of which we will mention very briefly.

Colleen: Yes, we're definitely not going to get into all the details. And if you've been to Iraq and we miss your absolute favorite place, write to us and let us know.

Hannah: I think we should also say that some of the places we've been we don't know the names of, because, again, Wild West, not everything is named.

Colleen: There was this one rock covering that we encountered up in the mountains with zero signage. Zero. I could never find that again, probably ever, because we went on a hike, and there it was.

Hannah: It's always an adventure! Let's begin with Suly.

Colleen: Suly is where I lived so there are a lot of places there that I think you have not been to.

Hannah: I have not been too much in the Suly area.

Colleen: Did we never take you to the Amna-surika, the Red House?

Hannah: I have been to Sulay, like, three times and you weren't there for any one of them

Colleen: I'm sorry, I would have taken you to Ammasurica, maybe. It's an old military center for Saddam and prison and so it's not exactly a pleasant place to go. They have it set up with kind of reenactments and you can see people like in the position of being tortured. Not actual people, but like, mannequins. It's kind of awful.

Hannah: Well, now I'm not sad I never went there.

Colleen: But there is this one hallway that the entire walls are covered with mirrors, little tiny, broken bits of mirror and the ceiling is covered with little tiny fairy lights, like Christmas lights sparkling so it's magical walking in there. But the symbolism of it is also really heartbreaking because it represents the villages and the number of people who were killed by Saddam during Anfal, during his genocide of the Kurds. So it's sad, but also really beautiful and also, weirdly, a really difficult place to photograph.

Hannah: Because how do you capture sparkly, sparkly, sparkly….

Colleen: Yeah, because there are no other lights in there besides those Christmas lights and they're all reflecting off these tons and tons of little bits of broken mirror.

Colleen: Connected with that and outside of Sulay, not in Sulay, but in another place that is another place that a lot of people go as a tourist in memory of all of that genocidal tragedy is Halabja, and there are some really big statues and a large graveyard and it wasn't open, because it had partly burned down before we went on our trip there, there's a museum you can go and see there.

Hannah: And Halabja is the city that had chemical warfare that really kind of kicked off getting help from outside: pictures and videos from that really really really sad that sparked a lot of international outrage as they ought to have.

Colleen: Also in Suly there's Sulaimani Archeological Museum that a lot of people go to. It's free and it's interesting, especially if you could go with someone who can read and translate the signs for you.

Hannah: Because they're all in Arabic? Kurdish?

Colleen: They're all in Kurdish. The first time I went I was like, well, I can kind of read it, but I have no idea what it says because that vocabulary is not really in my vocabulary.

Hannah: Right, it would be specialized.

Colleen: Also outside of Sulay we did a lot of hiking and there are some really beautiful places. There's a cave called Hazar Merd, which has this whole story about this woman with a 1000 husbands and…

Hannah: That's too many!

Colleen: I heard different versions of it and none of them seem to make a lot of sense to me, but, you know, you just ask a local person.

Hannah: Did she go to the cave to get away from the husbands? Did husbands lock her in the cave??

Colleen: I got the impression that's where she kept them.

Hannah: All right.

Colleen: But again, there were multiple versions, and it's a fun thing you could ask someone about there.

Hannah: Is it like a big cave?

Colleen: It's a really big cave.

Hannah: So she could fit a 1,000 husbands in there?

Colleen: Maybe that's why they said she had a 1,000. It's a really big cave!

Colleen: Also out that direction is a place called Chami Rezan where there's ancient carving--some Zoroastrian and Assyrian style carvings there--and there's a hole in the wall, really high up in this cliff face, and there's a little staircase that goes up to it now. Itt's metal. It's been added. And also a lot of interesting stories regarding that one. Some people were like, "Oh it's a tomb!" And some people were like, "Oh, it's a bathtub!" And some people are like, "Oh, it's a place where they would hide out and wait for approaching armies to see!" Because you can see pretty far out from there, like a lookout tower! But yeah, I also don't know what that one really is again: that whole sense of like these old things, they're just here and no one's ever really taken the time to know what they were there for and no one really cares.

Hannah: Not a lot of archeology. It's hard to do a lot of archeology in generally unstable region.

Colleen: The other place that we often went or places that tourists often go are waterfalls. And we'll talk about several waterfalls, I think, today. One of the ones that is very popular is the Ahmad Awa waterfalls and they've got these giant, not stairs, but like stairs.

Hannah: They are like steps.

Colleen: Steps for giants, really, because they're like knee to hip height. It's more of a climb than walking upstairs. Also very crowded with people, a lot of trash, a lot of…

Hannah: Tomfoolery?

Colleen: Tomfoolery. And, you know, a restaurant right next to it, but also a genuinely cool waterfall. Sergalou is another area that's like a tip-top picnic spot in the spring. Beautiful water, kind of running down a mountain side, not really a waterfall, but little tiny waterfalls along the way. Also just really full of trash and people. We would drive through there every spring as we kind of took a little tour of the scenery when it's beautiful and green. Kids would be out on the side of the road near the villages selling bunches of Nergiz flowers, little daffodils, and we would end up driving through Sergalou and…

Hannah: It's also really fun to say.

Colleen: It is. Is is!

Colleen: As we drive out of Suly towards Erbil, there are a couple of other places that are really high traffic tourist areas. Rawanduz and Soran are really close. Rawanduz is a valley or canyon. It's really beautiful!

Hannah: Yeah, it's like the Grand Canyon of Kurdistan.

Colleen: The top of it has like a resort and ski slopes and stuff up there, at least in the winter.

Hannah: Is that like Korek mountain?

Colleen: Yeah. Yeah, now that you say that, though, I may be confusing the two. There's something at the top of the Rowanduz area. It might not be… no, you're right. Korek Mountain is where there's the ski slopes, which is also up that direction. I've never been there.

Hannah: Me neither. Not big skiers…

Colleen: Well, it didn't really didn't take off until after I left.

Hannah: I remember someone taking me to Rowanduz, but not telling me that they were taking me to Rowanduz, and just coming around a corner and being like, "Holy Cow!!" Huge, beautiful ravines with water at the bottom and, like, not anything I expected to see.

Colleen: Yeah!

Hannah: It was a nice surprise, but it was also a little bit like, "You couldn't give me any warning?" You could have been like, "We're going to go see this really cool thing!" You were just like, "We're on a roadtrip!"

Colleen: The other big city, not big city, but the other city that's on the way to Erbil that we've both been to that's a popular location is Shaqlawa.

Hannah: Ah, Shaqlawa.

Colleen: What do you remember of Shaqlawa?

Hannah: Shaqlawa. The first time I ever went on a Kurdish picnic we went through Shaqlawa. That was part of it. And it was definitely hyped to me as like this beautiful mountain town and it's so lovely and the weather is so nice and you're really going to love it and we ended up just kind of, like, hanging out in the main shopping street. And like, I mean, we wandered up and down the streets and ate nuts from different vendors and like, but I was just kind of, like this is not. I don't get it, I don't get why people love this and I went back to Shaqlawa later to stay with some friends and it is beautiful, beautiful countryside, but I mean also grew up in Western North Carolina where everything is beautiful all the time, so my standards maybe a little different.

Colleen: Yeah, I remember getting talked about as, like, this really like stunningly beautiful place, and to me it didn't look that much different from most other small mountain towns.

Hannah: It is the place, though, that lots of people from the South have houses, because it's cooler. More of a resort town, like a vacation getaway kind of place.

Colleen: I mean it certainly is cooler than Bagdad

Hannah: Or Erbil, even.

Colleen: Yeah, well, Erbil I will say is pretty stifling in the summer, especially. A little bit of mountains is nice.

Hannah: For sure.

Steve: Hey, this is Steve, my wife and I have been with Servant Group International for quite a while now, which means that we're sort of old, which also means that we need some fresh new faces here at Servant Group. We love for you to join us!

Hannah: In Erbil, though, there's also lots to do. I think we talked about this when we talked to Victoria about Erbil being one of the longest continuously inhabited cities, and that specifically is downtown, the Citadel, which is kind of at the center of the city.

Colleen: It's upon a tell, so its an ancient mound of city built on city built on city for generations and generations.

Hannah: And that's one of the places where there has been a lot of archaeological things. My first year living in Erbil the people renting the house next to us were Italian archaeologists, Italian and French archaeologists, who have been working at the citadel, which was kind of neat. They were loud, but…

Colleen: They were Italian!

Hannah: There's a lot more signage up there telling you about what what all the different things are and how old they are.

Colleen: There's kind of neat little museum up there, too, with explanations in English and Kurdish.

Hannah: There's two musueums up there now, because there's also a textile museum.

Colleen: I think the textile one is actually the only one I've been to.

Hannah: Because there's a textile one and then there's the archeological one.

Colleen: Yeah, I don't think the archeological one was open when I was up there.

Hannah: It's pretty cool and they're working on restoring it because it's in pretty much disrepair. Even in the ten years since I first moved there they've really done a lot to make it beautiful. And then the citadel kind of looks out over the main bazaar in Erbil, which still feels very old school. It still looks very ancient and they built a big fountain and a park on one side of it now, which is also very beautiful. And they're kind of trying to build like a new sparklier bazar, but I don't know if that ever went through because I think most of the Kurds are like "No. Why would we want that? Why would we do that when we have a perfectly functional, lovely ancient bazaar, right here?"

Colleen: Yeah, there's there is a little bit of that competition between the old and the new that I think you find in almost every culture. Some people want something flashy and new and other people are, like, "but the old is good…"

Hannah: So that's probably the biggest tourist thing in Erbil. It's really easy to get to. There's also an old mosque out there. I went to a really cool photography exhibit in the old bath house at the top of the citadel.

Colleen: Huh!

Hannah: It was weird, but very cool, very artsy. But yeah, it was pretty cool, and that's the only time the bathhouses has ever been open for people to go in for the artist exhibit.

Colleen: That's pretty awesome.

Hannah: There's also a really big park in Erbil, Sami Abdul-Rahman Park. It's several acres. And, I mean, it's a park: green grass, trees, people wandering around. There's a train, like the little trains that you can ride like in the zoo, that drives around the park and you can pay like, I don't know, 1000 dinars to drive around the park in the train. And, I mean, the park is big enough to justify a train!

Hannah: So that's kind of fun, too! They do a big Nowruz stuff in the park.

Colleen: Oh, and there's a really big, beautiful mosque there that I never went in, but if you drive past it you know that it's the big, beautiful mosque.

Colleen: Yeah, I've seen pictures and, I mean, I've probably driven past it, but… It's blue, mostly blue.

Colleen: Very blue. And near where I lived in Erbil there is a really, really, really, really old mosque that they recently have been restoring. I noticed it the last time I was in Erbil. It was just the tower and minaret, but they've rebuilt the mosque next to it and it's also really beautiful in a very modern sort of way. I don't know if it's touristy, but definitely people within Erbil, are like, "Oh yeah. Have you seen that mosque? It's really beautiful."

Colleen: Ah, OK. You mentioned Nowruz as one of the things that is parties in the park. The place that has the biggest parties is Akre, right?

Hannah: Yeah, Akre. So that's a city built into the side of the mountain.

Colleen: That's not far from Erbil? A couple of hours?

Hannah: Maybe an hour and a half? So a lot of the houses are actually, like a house front, but the inside is like a cave. I'm pretty sure that's to keep it cool in the summer time.

Colleen: That is nice.

Hannah: But every year for Nowruz they do, like, a fire walk where everyone in the town gets--or a lot of people in the town have--torches. And they walk up the side of the mountain to the very top and light a big bonfire and have fireworks at the top. And all around the sides of the mountain, because it's pretty much sheer rock in most places, they have long Kurdish flag banners that they drap all along the sides of the mountain. So it's very spectacular!

Colleen: There are videos. We'll have to link some in the show notes.

Hannah: Yeah, I never actually got to be in Akre for Newroz, but I kind of always wanted to go because they do it at night, so it's like this line of fire winding up…

Colleen: It's really spectacular!

Hannah: It's really cool.

Colleen: I've also never been there in person, but I've seen videos.

Hannah: The city itself is beautiful.

Colleen: It's also the city that was the encampment of Alexander the Great. I think he theoretically founded it.

Hannah: Alright. He wasn't there when I was there…

Colleen: Really? That's too bad.

Colleen: That was the one place we never did actually find or get to go to. We decided it was maybe a little too close to Mosul, but, like, the battlefield of Gaugamela, where Alexander the Great defeated the Persian army or had a battle with the Persian army or something. I used to know more about that.

Hannah: Yeah, there are definitely places that it was like I really want to go there, but we never could, because it was never safe enough, but there's not not plenty in the North to see.

Colleen: That's true, because we're only half-way through our list!

Colleen: The next place over that I was thinking of Amediya.

Hannah: Or Amedi. I think that's a Bahdini-Sorani difference, but I don't know.

Colleen: I actually think it's a Kurdish-Arabic difference because on the maps and things it's Amadiya, but there I always heard it called Amedi.

Hannah: Yeah, I had a lot of students who Amedi was their village, like their family village, in Duhok.

Colleen: It is beautiful!

Hannah: It is really cool!

Colleen: It is built on a high plateau, but like the city is built all the way to the edges of the city on the plateau.

Hannah: It's kind of a plateau in the most classic sense, like there are no other plateaus around it. There are some mountains. You can get up on a mountain and look down at Amedi.

Colleen: But you can get to it from there. It's far enough away. It's surrounded by flat space.

Hannah: Yeah, and it's cool when you're in the city you can look out, down, at the plains of Dahuk or between Amedi and Duhok. It's very cool! But also a Roman City.

Colleen: Right, and it's got an old Roman road leading up to an old Roman gate that you can go see and that a lot of people go see. It's certainly not the road anyone uses to get in now. It's not in good enough repair and it's also narrow, too narrow for cars.

Hannah: I think there's also some Biblical person's tomb up there. This was another one of those someone said that to me after I had been there, but they couldn't tell me who it was. I remember kind of seeing like a churchy, tomby looking building, but I don't know. But it is really popular for Kurds and Westerners to go up there.

Hannah: On the trip where we went to Ahmadi with some American friends who were very explorey: Katrina's husband, Kinley. Kinley and Katrina, I should say, took us on this trip and one of the places we went was Dwin Castle. And there were actually two different places that we stopped and I'm not actually sure which Dwin Castle, if I'm being completely honest, because it's kind of it's off the main, beaten path and I don't think you could find it unless you knew where you were going specifically.

Hannah: So one of them is kind of up on a hill and its ruins of a castle, but they're still a tower standing and then the other one is as you come down off the mountain there's kind of this, I guess it would be like a really small tell, more like a hill, like you can walk up it very easily. But it also has the ruins of a castle on the top of it and so I'm not sure which one is which.

Hannah: But I think for the lower one the story was, kind of like, that no one lived there as a castle: it was kind of like a look out so if something was going down, everybody would flee there, but that there was some princess who was fleeing her father and locked herself into it and it got knocked down and that's why it was in ruins. But it was one of those places where there are no signs, there are no, like, guard rails, and so we have pictures of us climbing just like all over this ruins of a castle. And it was really cool! Again, I couldn't tell you where or how we got there, but it was pretty awesome!

Colleen: That does sound awsome! It reminds me, actually, out in that same area, somewhere out on the way to Amedi, we visited one of Sadam's old palaces that is also a ruin, not necessarily just from time, but definitely from active destruction and, like, vandalism and attack on this particular space. And I don't have very many photos up there because the walls were just covered with all sorts of profanity. It was an interesting place to see the demise of someone who, you knowm, was like, I don't know, part of history that I was alive for, right? Not as in ancient history where no one knows the stories of like these things and it's all vague. It's like here, everybody knows, and they're still made about it.

Hannah: Yeah, for sure! Let's talk about some secrety places…

Colleen: OK. So Lalish is the center of Yazidi faith and area and culture.

Hannah: We talked about Lalish a lot in the episodes about Yazidi faith. I have never been there, much to my regret.

Colleen: That's really sad. It's really fascinating and beautiful. One of the distinctives I remember thinking was that they had a lot of trees on their streets and even in and around their temple and obviously it was an area that was well cared for…and those distinctive towers with the ridges on them.

Hannah: Yeah, they almost look like a citrus juicer but pointy.

Colleen: But pointy.

Hannah: Not rounded.

Colleen: Yeah, they're very distinctive and very, very beautiful.

Hannah: Yeah, they are very beautiful. A lot of history. We talk, again, we talk extensively about Lalish in those episodes about Yazidism.

Colleen: But that's a place that local people don't ever really go to. It's only really internationals who have some sort of interest in world religions that end up going there.

Hannah: Or Yazidis.

Hannah: So did you actually go into Lalesh? Did you go into the Temple?

Colleen: Yep. We got a full tour.

Hannah: Did you have to take your shoes off?

Colleen: Uh-huh. It was cold that day and we were able to ask a lot of questions and the people were incredibly hospitable and, you know, guided us through all of the inner areas where there's vats of oil stored and, you know, little cubby holes with fire in them. There's a tomb down there that people throw scarves at over their shoulders to get wishes granted to them.

Hannah: Maybe the next time I go to a Iraq I'll have to go up there. Because now that I know more, I really, really want to see it! The other place that I feel like many more people go to eagerly is Alqosh, which we do reference in the Chaldean Church episodes, because it's one of the seats of the Caldean church.

Colleen: Ancient. Historical.

Hannah: There's kind of three parts to Alqosh. There's the ancient monastery that's up on the hill.

Colleen: So the Rabban Hormizd Monastery.

Hannah: And there's a kind of a family that lives up there and maintains it, at this point, and that's really cool…

Colleen: Be careful. Go with the guide. You could get lost forever.

Hannah: Yeah, there are deep, deep caves that go way, way, way back into the mountain.

Colleen: And there's no light.

Hannah: No light! That probably is one of the freakiest experiences I've had as we kind of blithely just wandered into one….

Colleen: Oh dear!

Hannah: And got far enough back in there that, like, I was like, ok, at this point, I could find my way back out. If I go any further and we turn off in any direction, I'm not going to be able to find my way back. So I was like "Guys, I'm not going to go any farther." And I turned around and came back by myself, and I was like "I'm walking through the dark with a flashlight and if I get lost…" Like, this feels really dangerous to do this by myself, but I'm confident enough to know that I can get back. And I think they maybe had a guide at the front or the guy who runs the place went in after them, because he brought them back out like a totally different way.

Colleen: A totally different? I've been there multiple times and, like, I still have no idea how to get around in there.

Hannah: The main monastery part is not maze-like. It's just if you get back into the caves where they hid..

Colleen: Or lived.

Hannah: Or lived. But the main monastery is really beautiful. It gets a lot of light. It's on top of the mountain. It's all whitewashed inside, so it seems even brighter. And there are Scriptures carved into the walls in Aramaic, I think, which is really cool to see!

Colleen: It's a beautiful script, too!

Hannah: There are seven curves in the road coming up to the monastery and it's because Chaldeans use it as the seven stops on the walk of Christ.

Colleen: I don't think I knew that!

Hannah: You didn't know that? So it's really common--and we had some Chaldean people with us when we went-- for them to walk up the road and stop at each of the 7 sides of the cross and pray…which is dedication, because that is a steep hill!

Colleen: It also needs those seven switchbacks, because there's no way you're getting up it otherwise.

Hannah: And I think the people who decided to walk, I think it took them a good two hours. And I mean they were stopping and praying, but it took them a long time. We were all done being up there by the time they got there. And they are like, "Yeah, we're done, too."

Hannah: So that's the main one and that kind of looks out over the Nineveh plain. It's really beautiful.

Colleen: At the bottom of that hill there is another monastery, the new monastery.

Hannah: Also, the same name, though.

Colleen: Yeah, I think it's just the modern one, although, I mean, it's also a little old…

Hannah: And it has a big chapel.

Colleen: And that's where the monks live and still do work still.

Hannah: I think there's a boys' orphanage there, too.

Hannah: Also really beautiful. We accidentally stumbled into where the monks private living space was and were told to get out…very nicely. But still like, "You cannot be in here." And "We're really sorry! There were no signs." How are we going to know?

Colleen: Crazy woman running around in the men's monstery!

Hannah: Yeah…but also very hospitable people. They had, I think, water and oranges for us when we came down off the mountain and gave us a place to sit and eat lunch together. There's also museum and archive there with ancient texts which, if the right monk is around, you can get in and they'll show you some of them.

Colleen: Oh really!

Hannah: We had bad timing and the correct guy was not at the monastery.

Colleen: I'm not sure it even occurred to us to ask, because I think the correct guy probably was there. We met a guy, who, and I'm sure I mentioned this when we talked before about some of this, is the funniest, most interesting monk with his leather jacket and his black sunglasses and, you know, black jeans and doesn't look the way you think in your head.

Hannah: The cool monk.

Colleen: He was definitely the cool monk. And he was working on translating a lot of ancient texts into modern Arabic, actually, and putting them online so that the youth could have access to the ancient documents.

Hannah: Probably the guy!

Colleen: Probably the guy.

Hannah: Man! Missed your chance!

Colleen: I did. I didn't even know there was a chance!

Hannah: So if you go into, the town that's next to Alqosh, kind of the third part of Alqosh…

Colleen: I mean, the town is Alkosh. The monastery is not Alqosh.

Hannah: That's true. The town, not the monastery, there is an ancient synagogue, which is kind of mindblowing to me. I was, like, I did not even think about their being Jewish people…

Colleen: But there were Jews who lived all over Iraq!

Hannah: And the synagogue is ancient, but it's also hasn't been that long since it's been in use. The story that we were told was that during World War II, the Jewish families that were living in Alqosh decided to go to Israel once the nation of Israel had been established to kind of flee, I guess, and left the keys with their Muslim neighbours and asked them to take care the synagogue while they were gone. So you can go into the synagogue now.

Colleen: Provided you can find you can the neighbors with the keys.

Hannah: Provided you can the family!

Hannah: Which, if, in our case, a busload of white people kind of roll up to where the synagogue is, the neighbor comes out and he's like, "You want to go in?" And we're like "Yeah!"

Hannah: So, in the synagogue is the tomb of…

Colleen: Nahum!

Hannah: Nahum, yeah. Allegedly. I think there is some debate.

Colleen: I mean, there are some other places that claim to be the tomb of Nahum, so there is only that debate. I don't think there's any debate about, "Was it is somebody else?"

Hannah: Oh sure, yeah.

Colleen: There, it is the tomb of Nahum. His bones are not there anymore, though. They have been taken, I mean years ago, up to a Christian church and they are in the wall crypt…

Hannah: I can't say that word…

Colleen: Reliquery?

Hannah: That's the one!

Colleen: I don't know, but there's like a plaque on the wall and, you know, it says that this is where the bones of Nahum have been interred.

Hannah: The tomb of Nahum is really cool because there are Hebrew writings carved on the walls.

Colleen: All over the walls! It's really interesting, too, because the style of the architecture and the decor in there really is different. So all of the light fixtures, what's left of them, and the other decorative carvings on the walls have a very different feel than anything else you run into in Iraq!

Hannah: It is really cool! That's also the only place we ran into a fence.

Colleen: Yeah.

Hannah: They have the area where his tomb is kind of fenced off so you can't actually like approach it directly. You can reach through and touch it, but you can't like get up by it or on it, and I think the neighbour put it up so that people wouldn't bother it.

Colleen: There's a second tomb in there. Did you know this? So there's a second tomb in the same synogogue area. It's outside, kind of in a corner, and it's either Nahum's wife or Nahum's sister, whose name was Sarah.

Hannah: Oh! Cool!

Colleen: So they're both kind of equally cared for, which I thought was really neat.

Colleen: We'd love to hear from you! You can find us a Servant Group International on Facebook or Instagram and you should check out our blog and complete transcripts over at servant group.org!

Hannah: And it's really helpful for us if you share our podcast or leave a review on whatever platform you listen to this podcast on. It helps us know that people are listening and you can let us know what you want to hear next!

Colleen: Thanks for listening!

Hannah: Yeah, some things fall out of your brains.

Colleen: Yeah, they do.

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