The modern city of Sulaymaniyah was founded in 1784, and served as the capital of the Kurdish principality of Baban until 1850. It is located in the south of Iraqi Kurdistan, surrounded by mountain ranges, around 100 km east of Kirkuk. Sulaymaniyah has for many years been considered Iraqi Kurdistan’s cultural capital, home to many scholars, artists and writers.
The city is known for its open, tolerant society, with cafes attracting a young, fashionable crowd. Parks also form an important part of the local social life. Azadi Park was formerly a military base during the Ba’ath regime. Now, families picnic, young couples meet, while others sit alone in quiet contemplation.
The Sulaymaniyah Museum’s collections span Mesopotamian civilization from the Neolithic to the Ottoman periods. Many artefacts were stolen after the first Gulf War, in the lootings which have since depleted the collections of many museums in Iraq.