Monday, 30 April 2012, 07:46 GMT
Kirkuk Citadel remains in state of ruin

This photo depicts a view of a ruined part of Kirkuk Citadel, March 13, 2012/ GLOBE PHOTO/Aiyob Mawloodi

The Kurdish Globe

People "turn their backs" on the archaeological treasure

The citadel falls into further disrepair after its destruction in 1991.

Ayad Tariq, director of Kirkuk Archaeology, states that out of 800 houses inside the Kirkuk Citadel, which is situated in the city's center, only 50 remain. The rest have been destroyed.

"We need 25 to 30 billion Iraqi Dinars [approximately US$20 to 25 million] to renovate all the destroyed parts of the citadel," Tariq said to the Globe. "It is because of the huge damage in the citadel that no tourists visit there."

The priceless archaeological Kirkuk Citadel loses one piece of its walls daily while everyone has their backs turned on it. The houses were destroyed during Saddam Hussein's reign.

"In the late 1970s, the Iraqi Archaeology Commission renovated 15 to 20 folklore houses of the citadel, and there was a plan to renovate the whole citadel and make it a modern tourist archaeological tourist attraction," said Tariq.

In 1991, the governorate of Kirkuk forced the citadel"s inhabitants out of their old homes and compensated them with money and plots of land as part of a project to renovate the citadel.

The plan was to destroy the houses and rebuild them in their old shapes, but the project was partly implemented and never completed. Only the destruction took place, which resulted in the leveling of 750 houses.

Since 2003, the government has allocated budgets to renovate the remaining 50 houses three times, but they were insufficient. "Two years ago, UNESCO also promised to renovated the citadel, but this is not clear yet."

Walking through the citadel, one sees ancient writings and pictures on walls and doors, some depicting the citadel's history. It has four main gates three neighborhoods, Maidan, Qala and Hammam. There are four mosques inside as well as a bazaar with 34 shops.

It is completely neglected and suffers from dirt and barking dogs, all of which give an eerie feeling to the scene.

Saad Abdulkarim, director of Kirkuk Tourism, says the citadel is a religious and historical attraction. "Now a very small number of the city's inhabitants visit the place; no foreign tourists do," explains Abdulkarim. "If attention is paid to it, it will have millions of dollars in revenue every year from tourists in addition to creating a large number of jobs for locals."

According to Abdulkarim, the citadel is the city's most important archaeological site. It is 18 meters high with dimensions of 450 and 500 meters. "The history of the citadel goes back to 2600 B.C., which was built during the Sumerian Civilization Era," Abulkarim noted.