Architravels: The architecture of Kurdistan
Over the Christmas break, my husband and I spent a week in Kurdistan visiting friends. For those who may be geographically challenged like myself, Kurdistan is a geo-cultural region in the Middle East where Kurdish people live. Specifically, it covers portions of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran. We visited the Iraqi Kurdistan area, and had a whirlwind cultural experience.
We stayed in the city of Sulaymaniyah, which is home to over a million people. While the numbers reflect a large group of people, the atmosphere was much more like a small village; we bumped into people our friends knew at the Bazaar and on the streets. The people are very friendly and welcoming, and live a laid back lifestyle. Strangely enough, there is no Kurdish word for “plan”, so not much gets done in the way we are used to in the West; things may or may not happen, and there is a strong need to ‘go with the flow’.
The region is mountainous and felt similar to the mountain areas of New Mexico – slightly arid, but with plant life dotting the hill sides. It was quite cold when we visited, though we did enjoy beautiful sunny days our entire trip. On one of those beautiful days, we took a walk through the neighborhood to see the local architecture. The only design elements I saw consistently were tall covered porches and lots of hard surface materials. Colors, textures, details – it was an eclectic mashup of other cultures, styles and eras. Colored and tinted glass was common, appearing in colors like navy blue, pink, green, brown and more.
The broad temperature swings from very hot in the summer to snowing and cold in the winter means that tile is a great surface for about half the year. The interiors tend to be quite cold in the winter, and rooms are heated by split units or mobile propane heaters. The infrastructure is definitely first world, but the operations can be less so – planned power outages occur daily with ‘local variations’. Although backup generator power is available, it is operated by a human being – who may or may not be at his post when the power goes out. Errands and bills are all taken care of in person, again, if the recipient is present to receive you. The entire city ran out of gas the day we planned a drive to the mountain (there was our mistake – planning!). Daily chores and errands can often consume much of your time, making it difficult to accomplish much (by Western standards).
Our visit also included a trip to the local bazaar where one can find anything from food, to clothes to live animals and trinkets. We spent several hours wandering the bazaar, and ended up bargaining for a [easyazon_link asin=”B0076G6YT2″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”architangent-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”default”]rug[/easyazon_link] that will go in our new home’s entry. We were fortunate to visit the local park, a prison-turned-museum, and a Syrian refugee camp. The experiences we had will not soon be forgot, and it was an amazing way to spend our holiday. The second week of our trip was spent in Istanbul, which will be covered in an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned!
Written by: Brinn Miracle