Ancient glory

, CULTURE

Erbil, also written Arbil and known as Hewler, is the fourth largest city in Iraq. Located in Iraqi Kurdistan, it is the capital of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, today the city is home to several historical and scenic beauties.

Erbil Citadel

Dating back at least 6,000 years, Erbil Citadel is the oldest continuously inhabited urban settlement in the world. A rare surviving example of a formerly fortified settlement, the mound of earth sprouts from the otherwise flat surrounding terrain. The elevation is due to millennia of settlements built one on top of the other. Dwellings were usually made of mud bricks, which in time disintegrated and contributed to heightening the overall ground of the citadel. The citadel has undergone several phases of destruction and reconstruction. In 2007, international archaeological excavations began and in 2014, it was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Kurdish textile museum

Established in a large, traditional house that once belonged to an eminent merchant, the museum offers a privileged view of one of the citadel’s domestic interiors. The museum is full of intricately woven rugs, kilims & felts. Alongside them are traditional hats, clothes & every day Kurdish artefacts. People also visit this place to learn about the rich culture of the Kurdish people. The museum also serves as an open workshop for a tradition-preserving scheme set up by UNESCO to ensure that the ancient carpet-weaving techniques are not lost.

Jalil Khayat mosque

Resembling the Muhammad Ali mosque in Cairo and the Blue mosque in Istanbul, Jalil Khayat Mosque is built on an area of 15,000 sq m. Holding about 1,500 to 2,000 people, the internal walls and ceiling of the mosque are decorated with colourful Zakhrafa (Islamic special painting), scripts of Holy Quran verses and huge ceiling lamps. The upper roof of the mosque consists of several domes with a bigger dome on top.

 

Minare Park

The most architectural of Erbil’s green spaces, Minare Park offers an eclectic fare of circular terraces, Etruscan columns and cascading fountains. A destination quite popular with the city’s youth and young families, it is lit up like an urban wonderland on summer evenings. Tucked away in a quiet corner of the park is the 13th century Muzzafariya Minaret from which the park takes its name. Built during the reign of Muzzaffar al-Din Kokbari, the minaret is all that remains of the city’s medieval growth beyond the confines of the raised citadel.

Gali Ali Bag

Often regarded as the highest waterfall in the Middle East, Gali Ali Bag is a mountain resort located on the intersection of two mountain ranges – the Korek chain in the north and the Bradost chain in the west – and the Rawandoz Sidakan and the Khalifan rivers. The scenery around the waterfalls has long assured the site’s popularity as a picnic spot. During the long summer months, tourists from all over Iraq and nearby countries can be found in these popular waterfalls.

Souvenirs

If you are visiting Erbil for tourism, work, or an event, catch a ride to downtown around the Citadel and browse the different shops right on the street of the Citadel. The items are all handmade by the local people of Erbil. Some common items to pick are purses, bags, rugs, or even a traditional hat. Don’t be surprised if some of those items are a bit expensive as some of them are made 50 or 100 years ago, so they are worth it.

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