Erbil Citadel, Arbil Citadel, Irbil Citadel, Hawler Citadel
Erbilia Online Magazine - Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

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Erbil Citadel – The oldest house of Kurds.

The historical value of Erbil Citadel to archaeologists and historians is immense. It is the only continuously inhabited citadel left in the entire world. Hence, the historical value and magnetism of the place are its main characteristic.

Located in the historical city, Erbil in Kurdistan Iraq, this mound is house of Kurds of Iraq. It is the oldest constantly inhabited place in the whole world. There has never been a period in time in which the Erbil Citadel has been without its residents. This Citadel is primarily a raised mound at a height of about 25 to 32 meters from the surrounding plain areas. It is divided into three districts: Serai, Takya and Topkhana.  The Serai district used to be inhabited by the notable families, whereas, the Takya district remained home to the dervishes of Iraq. Topkhana remained a home for the artisans and craftsmen.

Erbil Citadel is a historical site recognized by the Archaeologists all around the world to have been in existence for 7000 years. In 2007, a special commission was established for Erbil Citadel revitalization to manage the restoration of Erbil Cidatel. Its main purpose is to provide safe way for the archaeologists to investigate and carry out ample research over its history and the way life was spent in the early days of Erbil Citadel town. Since then many local and international agencies have carried out archaeological activities at Erbil.  According to the renovation plan issued by the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization (HCECR), the renovation will take place in a manner that all the historically valued sites are preserved and the population residing at Erbil shall be restricted to a number of 50 families only.

The only religious structure that has survived on the mound is the Mulla Affandi Mosque. On the top of Erbil Citadel, buildings spring over an approximate oval area of 430 x 340m dominating 102,000 sqm.  According to Archaeological studies the earliest sign of existence here can be traced to as early as 5th millennium BC. It is discovered that it may have been occupied as a proper habitant locality as early as Neolithic period as fragments of pottery dating as old as that era were found at the Citadel.

Historical sources have quoted Erbil Citadel for the first time in relation to mentioning the Ur III period. It appears from the archaeological as well as historical accounts that this town gained specific importance throughout the Neo-Assyrian period.  Erbil Town was considered an important core for Christianity in the Sassanian epoch and the Abbasid Caliphate. Hence, Erbil’s history may be seen as diverse in view of religious influences exerted on the town. After the Mongols took control of the citadel in 1258, the importance of Erbil declined as the hub of Christianity.  In the twentieth century, the inner-citadel structure was considerably modified, which resulted in the demolition of many houses and public buildings. The whole façade of the town changed significantly. Hence, in 2007 the restoration and renovation project was initiated to cater any further gross modifications.

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Photographer: Mustafa Adil