UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq

There are 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq. Of these 5 are cultural sites and the remaining site is listed under the Mixed Site category.

Map of World Heritage Sites in Iraq

Iraq UNESCO Sites Placeholder
Iraq UNESCO Sites

Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat) (2003)

Ashur (Qal’at Sherqat), simply known as Assur, was once the capital of the Old Assyrian Empire, Middle Assyrian Empire and the Neo-Assyrian Empire. The ruins of this ancient city remain on the western bank of the Tigris River. The city was occupied for about 4,000 years starting from the mid-3rd millennium BC to the mid 14th century AD. It was listed as one of the cultural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq in 2003; however, it was also added to the list of UNESCO sites in danger in that same year. The ancient city was under threat due to the US-led invasion that resulted in conflict in the area.

Erbil Citadel (2014)

The Erbil Citadel is another cultural site in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq. Also known as Qalat, this site is a fortified settlement located atop a tell. With a history of over 8,000 years of settlement, this site is notable as one of the longest inhabited sites in history. To this day, the 19th-century facade of walls serves as a fortress that dominates the entire city. There have been plenty of archaeological finds at the site, especially the mounds that the researchers believe conceal the settlements from the antiquity. This is a rare surviving example of this kind of settlement and one that has remained intact throughout many centuries.

Hatra (1985)

Hatra is an ancient city in Iraq that was built sometime in the 3rd or 2nd century BC by the Assyrians. However, it was under the rule of the Parthians when this city flourished and became a trading and religious center. During this time, Hatra was developed into an important fortified city that helped to defend the rest of the city from the attacks of the Roman Empire. It was also significant in the Second Parthian War. It successfully defended against the attacks from Trajan and Septimius Severus.

For this reason, Hatra was recognized as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq. It is considered as the best example and most preserved Parthian city in the history of Iraq. The entire city is protected by inner and outer walls, as well as 160 towers.

Samarra Archaeological City (2007)

The Samarra Archaeological City is home to a powerful Islamic City that governed the provinces of the Abbasid Empire for 100 years. Inscribed into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Iraq in 2007, this site is already listed among the World Heritage Sites in Danger. This archaeological site testifies to the artistic and architectural innovations that developed and spread within the Islamic world. The 9th-century Great Mosque and the Caliphal Palace are among its most important features.

The Ahwar of Southern Iraq: Refuge of Biodiversity and the Relict Landscape of the Mesopotamian Cities (2016)

The Ahwar of Southern Iraq completes this list of UNESCO sites in Iraq. There are 7 individual sites that are encompassed within this mixed archaeological site (three Sumerian cities and four wetland areas): Huwaizah Marshes, Central Marshes, East Hammar Marshes, West Hammar Marshes, Uruk Archaeological City, Ur Archaeological City and Tell Eridu Archaeological Site.

This site covers the delta that served as home to the early Sumerian civilization. However, the drainage of the water in these marshes made this site critically endangered. It also threatened the fish species and migratory birds that lived on the site.

Babylon (2019)

Situated 85 km south of Baghdad, the property includes the ruins of the city which, between 626 and 539 BCE, was the capital of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. It includes villages and agricultural areas surrounding the ancient city. Its remains, outer and inner-city walls, gates, palaces and temples, are a unique testimony to one of the most influential empires of the ancient world. Seat of successive empires, under rulers such as Hammurabi and Nebuchadnezzar, Babylon represents the expression of the creativity of the Neo-Babylonian Empire at its height. The city’s association with one of the seven wonders of the ancient world—the Hanging Gardens—has also inspired artistic, popular and religious culture on a global scale.