Baghdad's current state betrays its long and illustrious history. It was once a vital centre for scholarship and culture in the Arab world and an inviting destination for bohemians and backpackers from every corner of the world, invoking romantic images of Arabia. Today, sadly, after years of conflict, much of the city is in tatters, and constant dangers make it difficult for local residents, not to mention foreign travelers.
International visitors, mainly there for business purposes, are largely restricted to the International Zone, or Green Zone, where security is better. Venturing outside the Green Zone is often advised against, but that is where much of the city's and its population's vibrancy and flair can be found and enjoyed.