Qalat Hewler


The Hawler Citadel also called the Citadel of Erbil (other spellings include Irbil or Arbil), is located in the capital city of the autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq. It is literally at Erbil's city center and is considered to be amongst the longest continually inhabited places in the world.


The Hawler Citadel may have be inhabited as early as the Neolithic period, with small pottery chards found nearby. However, it is with certainty that settlement is dated to the Chalcolithic culture between 5,000-3,200 BC. The first record citing a name for the establishment comes from the documents of King Sulgi of the Third Dynasty of Ur, in which the city was named Urbilum. Later the city was ruled by many groups including the Assyrians, Neo-Assyrians, Medes, Persians, and Greeks. All the major Mesopotamian religions -- including Islam, Christianity, Ishtar, Zoroastrianism and several smaller cults --have at one time or another considered Erbil as a great city for their practice. During the Middle Ages, the citadel was carefully guarded by a moat, walled enclosure, high towers, and several gates. However,during the Ottoman Empire, the city gradually decreased in popularity and population.Then, after World War II,it again became a city of economic importance and development.

In 2006,archaeological studies began on the citadel resulting in many interesting finds and historical data.Since 2007, all but one family of occupants were evicted so research and preservation of the site could incur. One family was asked to remain so that there will not be a discontinuity in the long history of inhabitancy of the citadel. The Hawler Citadel has been submitted by the High Commission for Erbil Citadel Revitalization & State Board of Antiquities and Heritage to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site,an action which if approved would help provide funding to research and preserve this historical attraction.


The Hawler Citadel is now mostly like a ghost town of 500 homes -- an empty village where visitors can see how people used to live in history. Tourists are advised to be cautious when visiting this area and remain only in the supervised area, as renovations are still underway and some homes are not yet deemed stable. Presently several shops, homes, and a Textile Museum are open, with English and Arabic description labels.