Pira Delal

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Pira Delal
Pira Delal, Kurdistan.jpg
Delal Bridge
Coordinates 37°08′10″N 42°41′42″E / 37.13611°N 42.695°E / 37.13611; 42.695Coordinates: 37°08′10″N 42°41′42″E / 37.13611°N 42.695°E / 37.13611; 42.695
Crosses Little Khabur
Official name Pira Delal
Other name(s) Zakho Bridge
Material Carved limestone
Total length 115 meters
Width 5 meters
Height max. 16 meters
No. of spans 5
Toll Free
Pira Delal is located in Iraq
Pira Delal

Delal, Zakho Bridge, Pira Delal or Pirdí Delal ("The Bridge Delal" in Kurdish), informally known also as Pira Berî (stone bridge), is an ancient bridge over the Khabur river in the town of Zakho, in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The bridge is about 115 metres long and 16 metres high.[1]


Pir means bridge and Delal means dear or beautiful in Kurdish, "Pira Delal" means "beautiful bridge" (though not in an aesthetic sense, but more of something that's unique). The name reflects the way the bridge is seen among the local people as well as tourists. The bridge was named Delal and the city of Zakho is called Zakhoka Delal (Delal's Zakho) in the honor of Delal, a heroine figure associated with a myth regarding the origins of the bridge (see below).


Pira Delal is believed to have been first built during the Roman era, while the present structure appears to be from the Abbasid era. Kurdish people all over Kurdistan visit the great Pira Delal as a monument of peace and enjoyment throughout the family.[2][3] One of the legends regarding construction of the bridge relates that the hands of the builder were amputated to ensure that the bridge would remain unique.


According to a common myth associated with the bridge, the prince of Bohtan had ordered a skilled constructor to build him a bridge on the Tigris river. Once the bridge was complete, the prince chopped off the right hand of the builder as a reward for the good work he had done on the bridge, and so that he may never build another bridge that well-crafted anywhere else. When the builder arrived in Zakho City, the mayor of the city requested the builder to build a bridge that will connect the two sides of the Khabur river that goes to Zakho. The builder accepted the request in spite of the Bohtan prince who cut off his right hand. When the builder got to the middle part of the bridge, it would always collapse. To solve this, one of the fortune tellers in the city notified the builder that he should bury whoever sets foot on the bridge first, man or beast, under it as a sacrifice.

A day later, the builder's niece Delal was fetching him his lunch, with her dog. The builder was initially content because the dog was running in front of his niece and thus he thought that the dog will be the first to step on the bridge. However though, as soon as they approached the bridge, the dog stopped and got busy sniffing, so Delal stepped on the bridge first. As the builder saw Delal reaching the bridge first he went into shock and fainted for a brief period of time. After regaining his consciousness, the builder told Delal about the bridge story. Delal informed the builder that she is ready to sacrifice her life for her city. So the builder ultimately buried her under the bridge. When Delal's husband arrived to the city after knowing what happened, he took a pick axe and started digging under the bridge. While he was digging, he heard his buried wife Delal's muffled voice commanding him to refrain from digging and that he is physically hurting her with his digging, declaring that she wants to keep holding this bridge together with her arms and to stay there for all eternity. He eventually ceased and accepted her fate.

Since then the inhabitants would grow two lengthy plants in one of the gaps between the stones on one side of the bridge, and would think of them as Delal's hair braids.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pavelka (October 11, 2009). "DETAILED DOCUMENTATION AND 3D MODEL CREATION OF DALAL BRIDGE USING TERRESTRIAL PHOTOGRAMMETRY IN ZAKHU, NORTHERN IRAQI KURDISTAN" (PDF). Laboratory of Photogrammetry, Czech Technical University in Prague, Faculty of Civil Engineering,. 
  2. ^ O’Connor, Colin (1993), Roman Bridges, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-39326-4, p. 129f.
  3. ^ "Delal bridge (Pera Delal)" (PDF). Kurdistan Regional Government Ministry of Tourism. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  4. ^ Pira Delal in Zakho