Machiko is Kurdistan's most famous teahouse. Often claimed to be the oldest tea shop in Hawler, it is located at the base of the citadel and facing the fountains.
Chaixanay Machiko is located in the center of ھەولێر Hawlerأربيل Erbil at the base of the ancient citadel, next to the بازاڕى قهيسهرى Qaysari Bazar and پاركی شار Shar Park. Teashops in Kurdistan are a place for men to gather outside the home and enjoy leisure time with friends. Chaixanay Machiko is famous among them all because it is the oldest in Hawler and perhaps all of Southern Kurdistan. It is always busy from the time it opens at 8a until it closes at 1a. Though otherwise very traditional, Machiko is unusual for having some tourists as well as foreign and local women visit as well.
Chaixanay Machiko was founded in 1940 by Majid Ismail, known by his nickname Machiko.
Machiko was still a young man when he opened his teahouse. At the time, it was the only chaixana (teahouse) outside the citadel. The teashop continues to be operated by his son Muhsin Majid and grandson Mustafa (born around 1987). It served as a place for Kurdish activists to secretly meet and recruit. Also, it was a place for writers and intellectuals to meet with each other and the public. Authors and poets would leave some of their work at the teahouse's library for people to read. Singers inlcuding Hassan Sisawai, Kawes Agha, and Ibrahim Barzenji have enjoyed a visit. London Mayor Boris Johnson made a visit along with Qubad Talabani during the former's trip to Kurdistan in 2015.
Machiko has four different sections.
There are four general areas for seating. Outside is where most of the elderly gather. Inside are two sections usually for artists, journalists, and poets. At the very back are the youth who just want to play table games. The teahouse has been renovated several times, but continued to develop its traditional, nostalgic look and feel. The most recent furniture was commissioned from a carpenter in the bazaar, and based off an old design. The rugs on the walls were a gift from a rug shop next door. The walls are heavy with portraits of famous Kurdish singers and poets. The music is traditional -- the songs of Mishko, Mohammed Mamle, Rasul Gardi, Mazhar Khaliqi, Hassan Zirak, Fuad Ahmad, and other traditional singers are played.
There are small libraries inside the teahouse for those who like to read books while drinking. One of the libraries was awarded to the teahouse by a former KRG Minister, Shawkat Sheikh Yazdeen, who was a journalist and publisher. He was assassinated by terrorists in 2004 when the offices of the Kurdistan National Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party were attacked by terrorists. After that, Yazdeen's brother gave Yazdeen's second library to the teahouse.