Dictators and extravagant palaces go hand in hand, but no dictator did extravagant palaces like Saddam Hussein.
During his nearly 24 years in power, the Iraqi President built nearly 100 residences across the country as an expression of his authority. These provided housing for not only the Field Marshal himself but for Ba’ath party officials and his numerous mistresses. Some $2 billion USD is estimated to have been spent on these in the post Gulf War period alone.
After Baghdad fell to the Americans in 2003, many of these palaces were looted and demolished by Iraqi citizens. Many more were occupied by US Marines who used them for anything from command centres to R&R internet cafes and even Starbucks outlets. With US troops now long gone, these palaces are back to being decaying reminders of a totalitarian regime that once was.
One – at the top of Garra Mountain in Iraqi Kurdistan, although still surrounded by hundreds of land-mines, remains open to anyone who knows how to get there. It was looted during the Kurdish uprising against Baghdad rule in March 1991 and has remained idle ever since. It offers spectacular views of the Amedi Valley; so much so that it’s been nicknamed the “Kurdish bird’s nest”.
Take a look at what we stumbled across when our local guide Balin took us to the top on last October’s Iraqi Kurdistan Tour! Our next trip is in May… do not miss it! View the tour here or contact us for more info!
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