Remnants of Saddam

Highlights and photographs from an afternoon spent riding to the remains of a mountain-top palace built by Saddam Hussein deep in Kurdish land.

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Saddam Hussein’s palace on Gara Mountain’s summit in the far distance.

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The approach to Gara Mountain, where Saddam’s palace sits at an altitude of 2100 meters overlooking a wide a beautiful valley.

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The road climbed steadily and offered views that dropped dramatically from both sides, the road often climb on the very edge of the mountain ridge.

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The view from the small parking lot directly below the palace.

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…and from another angle

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Easily some of the most spectacular riding I have ever done.

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The palace, in all of its decrepit glory

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Interior view… although enough walls are missing to blur the idea of an exterior or interior view

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Saddam picked the palace’s location wisely, as the view from the summit of Gara Mountain is the best in its locale, with unrivaled views of two valleys and a line of sight that extends into Turkey.

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The view from the roof

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What remains of the staircase connecting all three layers of the palace. Beautiful still, even as it quickly crumbles away.

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Mountain chai time

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I spent at least half an hour just staring at this view, trying to memorize and enjoy every last detail.

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Amedi in the far distance, and beyond it, the 3000 meter peaks of southern Turkey.

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The town of Qadish, en route to Amedi.

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…And a close up of the mesa-top town of Amedi.

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Less than three feet of the road on both sides were stake posts warning of land mines. Saddam had planted hundreds, if not thousands of land mines only feet off of the main road in order to discourage trespassers of any kind.

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Getting ready to ride back down!

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