A 12,000-year-old cave in the Kurdistan Region
While local hiking and camping groups know it well: this ancient cave in the Kurdistan Region is hidden from international tourists.
Located 25 kilometers from Sulaimani city, Pala Gawra Cave was once habitable, and people lived there with their families thousands of years ago. Items found in the cave from ancient times suggest a primitive society once lived there.
The cave is located in Slemanagird village within the Bazyan district. It attracts thousands of local tourists each year.
“Inside is spacious. You can say how several families can live here,” said Karzan Sabir, a local tourist from Kirkuk. “The cave and its surroundings are great for hiking.”
Tourists and hikers often camp in the cave.
“The route to reach the cave is not that hard. Any normal hiker can do it,” said Hawbir Mustafa, another tourist from Erbil. “The best time to visit is spring since it gets too hot and cold during summer and winter.”
Everyday items from ancient times have been found by archaeological excavations of the cave. These items include spoons, cups, vases, pots, and arrows.
“This cave should be on the World Heritage List because it is very old. It is a significant site,” said Rasan Khidir, an archaeologist researcher at the University of Garmiyan. “Twelve thousand years must mean a lot for all archaeologists in the world. It proves how old this area is and how long life has been here.”
Tourists and experts believe that if this tourist and archaeological site were developed, it would be one of the most famous attractions in the Kurdistan Region.
“I suggest the government develop this cave and its surroundings,” said Khidir. “Transportation, accommodation, and other services would make Pala Gawra Cave known to the whole world. People around the world should see this ancient site.”
Mustafa concurred. “If developed, this cave would absolutely top the list of tourists in other cities of Iraq, and it will also attract more local tourists, for example, from Erbil and Duhok,” he said.