I know it may sound a bit weird but the first person who ever told me about Kurdistan and, actually, convinced me to go there was my father.
He had just come from a leisure trip in Erbil, very excited and telling wonderful things about the people, their kindness and hospitality.
After hearing all his stories and looking at all his pictures, I was feeling a bit jealous, so I started to think that, perhaps, I should pay it a visit as well.
This was in 2016. My second visit was in 2018.
However, I had absolutely no idea about what I could do or visit once I got there. My father had just visited Erbil but what I knew was that, if I went myself, I would like to explore the region beyond the capital.
Outside of Erbil, however, what I pictured was a miserable and deserted region which was potentially dangerous, as Kurdistan was very close to Mosul, which by that time was under ISIS control.
It gave me some respect, so I began to do some research and, surprisingly, the first images that popped up were of tremendous and jaw-dropping landscapes, composed of high mountains, snow-capped peaks, and green hills.
I couldn’t believe that was the north of Iraq, so close to ISIS, yet, so green.
But I remember that, what attracted my attention the most was the photo of one of the most beautiful and unique villages I had ever seen.
Its name was Amedi and it has the peculiarity that it was built on the top of a flat mountain, with incredible views of the valley.
I really didn’t want to miss it.
For more places to visit in the region, don’t forget to check my 2-week itinerary to Iraqi Kurdistan
Visiting Amedi in Iraq – Home to the three wise men
Here is where you find the oldest cities in the world, like Byblos for example, as well as Babylon, Erbil, Jericho and a large etcetera,
They are cities (or ruins) with thousands of years of history, in which several civilizations, empires, and religions have gone through. Centers of creating and trading knowledge, ideas and goods which, back in their day, were exported to the West and were key for the development of our society.
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Amedi (or Amadiya) is one of many historical cities in the region. Historians claim that the city was founded in 3,000 B.C. and, on its foundation, it belonged to the Assyrian Empire, even though the village was occupied by many others afterwards.
It was well-known for being a place where Christians, Muslims, and Jews coexisted freely and in peace.
However, with its 5,000 years of history, its big popularity is mainly due to the fact that historical evidence shows that Amedi is the place where 3 of the most important priests in all Persia started their journey to Bethlehem, to meet the new-born Jesus in the year 0.
Today, these three priests are more popularly known as the The Wise Men (or the Three Kings) and, at least in Spain, we celebrate their arrival every January 6th with a family lunch plus they are actually our Santa Claus, meaning that they are the ones who bring gifts to the children during the night of the 5th.
The Three Kings, yes. Those dudes were living in Amadiya.
Today, Amedi is a peaceful, little village.
Honestly, the village itself is not very exciting, as you don’t see many people around.
The most impressive and main attraction is the ancient gate to the village, Bahdinan Gate, a stone gate of nearly 14m high, which is preserved in perfect condition.
From there, you can observe amazing views of the valley, as you see in the photos.
Moreover, you will see that Amedi receives a significant number of local tourists. Both times I visited, in 2016 and 2018, I met many of them who were extremely curious, as the idea of seeing a foreign tourist there was so exciting, especially when they found out I was from Spain, because the Kurds have a big obsession with football, to the extent that many times I said I was from Mexico instead.
Furthermore, in Amadiya there is also a big Christian community, so in the center you can find a liquor store where you can buy fresh beer. I actually bought two bottles and drank them right next to the gate.
I also recommend that you go down, by following the trail next to Bahdinan Gate, meaning that you should get to the bottom of the hill, as the perspective from below is quite nice as well.
Last, don’t forget to climb one of the many surrounding hills which are on the other site of Amadiya, towards the Turkish border. They are a bit far away, like an hour and a half on foot, but it is the only way to appreciate the actual position of Amadiya. In the practical information section, you can see the exact viewpoint location. The views were absolutely gorgeous.
Practical information for visiting Amadiya
Where – Amedi is 230km from Erbil, just 10km away from the Turkish border. In this map, you can also see the viewpoint location, but bear in mind that it is just an approximation and you will find the actual point once you get there.
How to get there by public transportation – If you want to go by public transportation, you can take a bus or local shared taxi to the city of Dohuk and from there take a shared taxi to Amadiya. The price for all the taxis would be around 30-35USD, approximately. However, I am not entirely sure if you can do this journey in only a day (by public transportation) and even if you wanted, you won’t have much time to explore the area.
Where to stay – In Amadiya there are no hotels but they are outside, around 2 or 3km following the road towards Dohuk. You can find a room for 20,000ID (around 17USD). I personally asked around if there was a guest house in the village itself, and they told me no, but travelers were very welcome to stay in the mosque, which seemed like an appealing idea to me. However, when I set up my bed, some local students approached me and invited me to stay at their residence.
Remember to read all my articles and guides to Iraqi Kurdistan.