Iraq: Ziggurat of Ur

The city of Ur dates back to to 3600 BC when it was a coastal town on the Persian Gulf (the coastline has moved hundreds of kilometers out since). It was a thriving city-state around 2600 BC. The time is just mind-blowing! The central feature of the vast UNESCO World Heritage-listed archaeological site is the Ziggurat (aka Temple/Fortress of Ur), built around 2100 BC, and then rebuilt during the Babylonian times around 600BC. The site was partially excavated in 1930s, and a lot of mounds around still remain untouched. Having passed through seemingly a million of military checkpoints, where every officer looks like Saddam Hussein and everyone needs to check your passports, you eventually get to the temple and can have it all to yourself. It’s crumbling and only partially restored and feels abandoned, but motherless very impressive – you can climb the grand staircase to the top and also explore the labyrinths at the bottom.