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Ankawa is located in Iraq
Coordinates: 36°13′45″N 43°59′37″E / 36.22917°N 43.99361°E / 36.22917; 43.99361Coordinates: 36°13′45″N 43°59′37″E / 36.22917°N 43.99361°E / 36.22917; 43.99361
Country  Iraq
Autonomous region  Iraqi Kurdistan
Province Erbil Governorate
Municipality Ankawa
Population (2011)
 • Total 30,000 (refugees included-100,000)[1]
  The town received thousands of primarily Christian Refugees from Baghdad and Mosul in 2014

Ankawa or Ainkawa (Kurdish: Enkawa‎, Syriac: ܥܲܢܟܵܒ̣ܵܐ‎, Arabic: عنكاوا‎‎, ‘ankāwā) is a predominantly Assyrian populated suburb of Erbil, outside the city limits.[2] It is seen as the "Assyrian Quarter" of Erbil. It is located five miles north-north-west of downtown Erbil, just outside the ring road that is Erbil's city limits, Ankawa is also considered to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, its population is estimated to be twenty thousand, the majority of people who live in Ankawa belong and follow the teachings of the catholic churches.[3]


Ankawa was originally called Beth Amka, which later morphed to Amku-Bad, Ankawa, and finally Ankawa. The name of the town is mentioned in different historical books, including Bar Hebraeus's book entitled "A Brief History of the Countries," where he states: "Mongolian troops attacked the area of Erbil on Sunday July 1285 and reached some villages.....including Ankawa." The shrine of Mary also known as "Mariamana was built after the ancient roman designs. It’s one of the most glorious places for the people to visit it.[4]

The reason that the town survived and developed so far is that this region was proximity to the city of Arbil, that made their population pay through centuries to the rulers of the city in order to protect its people.

Ankawa has many archaeological sites, including "The Hill," which was recorded as an archaeological site in Iraq in 1945. It is also home to St Joseph's Cathedral (Umra d'Mar Yosip), the seat of the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Erbil.[2] Ankawa used to be a small village that is located Northwest of Erbil, But nowadays it's more like a city.[5] The city has recently become a principal settlement for Christians in Iraq. One of the main reasons for the cities rise is due to the ISIS takeover of the Nineveh Plans, because a fair amount of those who fled went here. The city's rise has even attracted the eye of the Assyrian Church of the East, which after several decades of being located in the United States, has decided to put its faith in the security of Iraqi Kurdistan by moving their Patriarchal see to Ankawa.[2]

The first school in Ankawa was built in 1921.

Ankawa Akad Sports Club[edit]

It was 1992 during spring time when a group of young athletes with the help of sport experts, started the action of constructing a sports club in Ankawa. Many meetings occurred until11/06/ 1992 when the first sport’s gathering was at one of the churches in Ankawa which was Mar Gorges.[6]

Christianity in Ankawa[edit]

Ankawa's name is mentioned in several ancient books of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians, as well as in ancient Greek works. During the construction of St. Gorgis church in 1903 a grave was found which dates back to 925 AD. Although Christianity may have come to Ankawa earlier, this is the oldest remaining evidence of Christianity in Ankawa. According to several ancient sources, Christianity came to Ankawa by the two apostles Addai and Mari.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishops of Erbil[edit]

  • Mar Stéphane Babaca, 1969-1994
  • Mar Hanna Markho, 1994-1996
  • Mar Jacques Ishaq, 1997-1999
  • Mar Yacoub Denha Scher, 2001-2005
  • Mar Rabban Al-Qas, apostolic administrator, 2007-2010
  • Mar Bashar Matti Warda, 2010 – present


  • St. Gorgis church (927)
  • St. Joseph Cathedral (1978-1981)
  • St. Qardakh church (2006)
  • Um Almaona church (2010-2015 )


Apparently within the last 10 years, Ankawa developed rapidly educationally and technologically. Now, many tourists visit Ankawa from Baghdad, mostly from the southern cities. The town has been through a long construction period, there are international schools as well as restaurants available today inside. Most residents are Christian, but many Kurds have lived in Ankawa for years. After the fall of Mosul, many Christians have headed to Ankawa and are provided with personal needs by the church and international organisations and Archbishop Bashar Matti Warda, is the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop of Erbil in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. The voice of persecuted Christian, he helped over 20,000 families that were threatened and emigrated from ISIS. His work includes giving of food, housing, education and pastoral care and more.[7]


External links[edit]