Kifri: A Kurdish city that offers 300 archaeological sites

The ancient Palace of King Majid in Kifri (Photo: Kurdistan 24)
The ancient Palace of King Majid in Kifri (Photo: Kurdistan 24)

The ancient city of Kifri is one of the warmest in the Kurdistan Region. It also offers visitors more than 300 archaeological and historical attractions.

Unfortunately, most of the attractions are under threat and may not be around in a few years if they are not taken care of since the area has not been developed. That would be a heavy loss for the city and its population.

“If the government or private investors pay attention to the archaeological sites in Kifri and renovate them, they will profit, and it will bring jobs for the locals,” Bawar Khalil, a local archaeology expert told Kurdistan 24. “We need to protect our national heritage as these sites are extremely significant for the field of archaeology, history, and for our nation.”

Kifri’s most famous archaeological sites include The Palace of King Majid of Baban Kingdom (built in the 19th century), Kifri qaysari (ancient bazaar), which was once a business hub in the 17thand 18th centuries, Aski Kifri, Ashtokan, Dwazda Imam, Serqala, Girdagozine, and others.

The ancient bazaar in Kifri (Photo: Goran Sabah Ghafour)
The ancient bazaar in Kifri (Photo: Goran Sabah Ghafour)

No matter how hot and far it is, tourists still come to visit some of the archaeological sites.

“To see the palace of King Mahid is something memorable. It is so old, and when you see it, you think it will collapse right now,” said Barham Aziz, a local tourist from Sulaimaniyah. “This city is an important piece of history. Its remains tell us a lot about life centuries ago.”

Kifri, 115 miles (185 kilometers) southwest of Sulaimani, is officially a part of Diyala province but is under the control of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Most of its population of 45,000 are Kurds, with a minority of Arabs and other ethnic groups.

Locals turn to the KRG to protect their heritage and history.

“We don’t want anything from the Iraqi government,” said Bawan Khidir, a local resident from Kifri. “We are Kurds, and we ask the Kurdish government to renovate all or some of the most important archaeological sites because they will collapse soon. These significant places need protection.”

Locals and experts ask the universities and the local and international excavation teams to visit Kifri and check the sites and start digging and conducting research.

“These sites offer valuable data to the people in the academia,” noted Khalil. “They can conduct research and also preserve the sites.”