Zakho, a Kurdish city with invisible wonders

“Zakho is a small town, but tourists have a lot to check out.”
Zakho’s historic Delal Bridge. (Photo: Goran Sabah Ghafour/K24)
Zakho’s historic Delal Bridge. (Photo: Goran Sabah Ghafour/K24)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - According to Aramaic sources, the name Zakho originally comes from "Zakhota" ("victory") after a battle between Rome and Persia near the city that ended in victory for the Romans. But that is not the only theory about the origins of the city’s name.

Karwan Omar, a local historian, told Kurdistan 24 that Zakho comes from "Zey-Khowin" which means the river of blood, possibly a reference to the same battle. But Omar has another explanation, that is the more plausible: "Zakho comes from "Zey Khowak," which means "a curved place that engulfs water."

Besides its name, this Kurdish city, a few kilometers from the Kurdistan Region-Turkey border, has several other wonders.

Delal Bridge is the most famous site in Zakho, locally known as Pirdi Delal or Pira Delal, which means "beautiful bridge." It is an ancient bridge over the Khabur River spanning 114m (374ft.). It is 15.5m (50ft.) high. Large river stones were used to build the bridge. But when was that?

Omar says there is no reliable data confirming the precise time of its construction.

"Some believe that the bridge was constructed during the Roman era 27 BC-476 AD," he noted. "But much of the present structure dates to the Ottoman era, 1299 AD, which is much later."

And some believe that the bridge was constructed during the Abbasid era, according to the local historian.

Delal Bridge is frequently featured in Kurdish literature and imagery. The site also attracts thousands of tourists every year.

"The bridge is a landmark attraction that brings tourists from both inside and outside Kurdistan," said Anwar Adil, a tourist expert who has his own tourism company. "People from Europe, Turkey, Iran, Baghdad, and other parts of the world visit Zakho's Delal Bridge."

Adil talked about the folktales about the bridge. There are many.

"Legend has it that the bridge was considered such a tremendous and unique architectural feat by the ruler who had it built that the hands of the builder were amputated to ensure the bridge would remain unique," he said.

It could be because of these folktales that people around the world love to see it.

"I have seen the bridge from photos before, but now I am here actually to see it by my own eyes," said Dildar Azad, a local tourist from Sulaimani. "It is an amazing site."

Derabon resort in Zakho is another wonder. It is located in the triangle border area of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria. In this resort, a large spring flows from the mountains. There are several tourist amenities here, such as hotels, casinos, and restaurants.

"Derabon resort is important because it includes the conical tomb of an important Sheikh of the Yezidi community," said Omar. "This is why we have pilgrimage here."

Sharanish Fall is another wonder in Zakho that attracts even more tourists.

"This beautiful fall is more than a fall. It is like a national park too as various tall trees surround it," said Azad.

Kishani, Qubad Pasha Castle, the old market, Happy Theme Park, and Shivana are among other wonders in Zakho.

"Zakho is a small town, but tourists have a lot to check out," said Adil. "With more investments here, this town will flourish more, and that attracts even more tourists."