I doubt most people will ever have the chance to visit Iraq unless they’re Iraqi or somehow connected to people who live in the country. There are however, some tour groups that can get you in to visit sites and out in short order but they’re dangerous and not for the feint of heart despite what you may hear. It’s a very homogeneous culture in many respects so if you think you’ll stand out or if there’s anything about you that differentiates you from the populace, your life is in danger.
That’s unfortunate, because Iraq is literally filled with history, religious and otherwise. Throughout the centuries it’s been overrun and ruled by invading forces multiple times. If you’re interested, here is a short list of the major religious cities:
Babylon (ܒܒܝܠ) (بابل) – Do I have to say more? I think most people from the west have heard this name. The word actually has it’s origin from a word that means Gateway of God
Ctesiphon (Al-Mada’in, المدائن) A major military objective throughout history, captured by the Romans five times.
Eridu (إريدو) Thought to be one of the oldest cities in the world.
Hatra (حضر) Possibly a capital of the first Arab Kingdom
Kish (كيش) The Sumerian king list states that Kish was the first city to have kings following the deluge
Lagash (لجش) one of the largest archaeological mounds in the region
Nineveh (ܢܝܢܘܐ) (نينوى) one of the oldest and greatest cities in antiquity.
Nippur (نيبور) one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities
Nuzi (Nuzu) an ancient Mesopotamian city southwest of Kirkuk
Sumer (سومر) the site of early development of writing
Tell Ubaid (تل عبيد)
Ur (أور) Ruins of the Ziggurat of Ur are here, which contained the shrine of Nanna
Uruk (أوروك) The semi-mythical king Gilgamesh, according to the chronology presented in the Sumerian king list, ruled Uruk in the 27th century BC
Samarra is the site of the Great Mosque of Samarra
Much of the country is desert although when you’re in the north in the area of the mountains there’s quite bit of greenery and coming from the north myself I prefer that type of environment.
Baghdad is probably the city that immediately comes to mind when you mention Iraq and rightly so as it’s the capital. The conflict between the Sunni and Shia as well as wars that have raged by various forces have damaged much of the city and the populace still lives very much the same way they have for centuries. Nevertheless, there are signs of modernity like automobiles, motorcycles and some modern structures. But for the most part, progress seems to have evaded the whole country and conditions would appear to be similar to what they must have been centuries ago.
If you really feel an urge to travel to the country, Baghdad International Airport is where you’d land if you contracted one of those conflict zone tours. I’m told tourists are whisked in, everyone hustles into an armored bus I believe and are escorted by security guards to sites of interest. It all happens quickly so as to not alert the bad actors who would almost certainly make an end to the groups if caught.
If you can find a way to go and have in interest in risk, I would do it but be sure security is primary. The tour is quick and interesting if can handle the potential for violence.