From Duhok, I wanted to explore the small town of Amedi. I had read about this place where the Three Wise Men had come from, which was perched on top of a uniquely shaped plateau in the rolling hills of Kurdistan. I decided to take a day trip on my own and I can safely say it was very easy and thoroughly enjoyable.
Tourism is certainly still in its infancy in Iraqi Kurdistan and people are still getting used to seeing tourists around. They were very surprised that I had come to Amedi on my own with no guide in the hope to just explore; it was certainly a new concept. However, true to my previous experience of the Kurdish people, they were extremely helpful and made sure my day turned out perfectly.
This guide for how to visit Amedi from Duhok will help you make this day trip using public transport quite easily.
Duhok is the third largest town in Iraqi Kurdistan after Erbil and Sulaymaniyah. It’s located in the northwest of the region towards the Turkey border. It’s quite a modern city, with a central bazaar area. It’s not considered a tourist highlight, other than being a nice base from which to explore Amedi as described below, or even beyond to Lalish and Alqosh.
Duhok can easily be reached from Erbil by shared taxis and minivans. Erbil’s main bus station and transport hub is known as Erbil Terminal, next to Shaykh Ahmad and Family Fun Mall. From there, you can take buses and shared vans to cities in Northern Iraq including Duhok, as well as, international buses to Turkey.
How to get to Amedi
I walked from my hotel in Duhok to the main bus station in the city, underneath a motorway in the centre. I asked around for Amedi and people were happy to point me to the right vehicle. There was a shared taxi ready to leave with two other people and we were on our way pretty quickly.
The drive took about two hours and cost me 8000 dinar (AUD$10).
The drive to Amedi was beautiful as we got closer to the rolling hills of the north of the country. I immediately recognised Amedi from photos as we were approaching, as the unique village perched on a plateau is quite distinct. The view of the village is actually best from the road approaching it across there valley.
The driver dropped me in the middle of the village and I got out thinking, “Okay, now what?”. The streets were practically deserted and so I decided to just walk around. The village is claimed to have been home to the Three Wise Men or the three priests who made their way to Bethlehem to visit baby Jesus. It’s also known as a place that Muslims, Christians and Jews have called home in peaceful coexistence for many years.
There’s a few things to see in the town, including some incredible historical sites.
Amedi ancient stone gate
I only knew of one thing to see in Amedi and that was the old stone gate. It’s still completely intact but there’s no consensus of how old it really is, but considering the village has around 5000 years of history, I guess we can just say that it’s ancient.
After navigating some random back roads, I finally emerged at this ancient gate, which also happened to have sweeping views of the surrounding valley and mountains. There were a few locals around who were happy to point me in the right direction but it’s called Kela Amedi on Google Maps.
As I walked back through the town I stopped at the old mosque and a couple of other old stone buildings. It’s hard to say how old a lot of these buildings are, but they’re scattered amongst all the newer houses and shops.
The mosque is called the Amadiyah Great Mosque, which has been renovated several times but is said to have stood on the same site for over 900 years.
Sulav Park and waterfall
On the road heading towards Amedi from Duhok, you’ll see a line of shops and restaurants in a village area known as Sulav on the main road. It’s just a few kilometres away from Amedi. Here is what is known as Sulav Park, a beautiful green valley and waterfall area with a walking trail. It’s a popular tourist spot for local Kurdish families.
I hitched a ride from Amedi to Sulav by standing on the road leaving Amedi. I then explored the waterfall and restaurants along the main road for a bit. It also offers a nice view across to Amedi from the edge of the road.
How to get back to Duhok from Amedi
There is no official garaj or bus station in Amedi or Sulav and the best way to get back to Duhok is to flag down anyone going past. I asked a small snack shop in Sulav about shared taxis to Duhok and they gave me a chair and told me to wait.
They walked to the side of the road watching the traffic for me until he waved a vehicle down that happened to have just one seat left going back to Duhok.
I couldn’t believe how helpful people had been and the driver of the shared taxi even offered to drop me directly at my hotel.
Where I stayed in Duhok
In Duhok, I stayed at Kristal Hotel which came highly recommended to me by Shah of Dolphin Hotel in Sulaymaniyah and it seems to be the most popular choice for foreigners. They gave me a very nice, large room with a city view for USD$40 per night. The staff were all friendly, although English was limited, and they had free water, tea and coffee all day.
Travelling around Iraqi Kurdistan?
You might want to read more of my posts on Iraqi Kurdistan:
- A Travel Guide to Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan’s Capital
- Best Things to Do in Sulaymaniyah
- Why You Should Explore Akre, Lalish and Alqosh
- A Complete Guide to Travelling in Iraqi Kurdistan