Erbil Citadel

erbil citadel

The Erbil Citadel, also known as the Hawler Castle, is UNESCO-designated world heritage site in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.

History of the Erbil Citadel

The Erbil Citadel dates back thousands of years, to the first settlers of Erbil. Over the millenia, the Erbil Citadel has taken shape, each generation building new structures on top of those of the previous generation. The resulting shape is a large, oval hill, and is referred properly to as a “tell” which means a large mound created by many generations building on top of one another.

Early on, houses and structures on the Erbil Citadel were constructed with mud bricks, which crumbled and collapsed easily in the sun and rain. The rebuilding of these mud brick structures on top of one another, over thousands of years, has resulted in the citadel rising over 100 feet from the ground level.

Erbil Citadel: A Home for All

Many religions, ethnicities, empires and people have inhabited Erbil since the earliest evidence of settlement, dating back to 5000 BC. The Erbil Citadel passed through Sumerian, Assyrian, Sassanid, Mongol, Christian and Ottoman hands.

During its long history, the Erbil Citadel has been home to mosques, churches, synagogues, schools and homes. In the most recent census (1995), the Erbil Citadel was home to 1,631 people, inhabiting 247 homes.

Restoration and World Heritatge Designation

In 2014, the Erbil Citadel was inscribed as a World Heritage site, citing that “the Citadel is today one of the most dramatic and visually exciting cultural sites not only in the Middle East but also in the world.” Restoration began in 2010, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has budgeted $13 million for the restoration project.

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