Before the advent of modernization since the 1930s of the last century, the citadel consisted largely of traditional courtyard houses- just over 500 in all. Of these there were some 30 or so large palace-like houses that were mostly located on the peripheral wall but some were inside the town proper. Medium-sized houses numbered about 120, while smaller houses of poorer families numbered about 350.
All these houses, large and small, had open courtyards and were constructed in brickwork. They used timber joists for roofing and brick vaults for roofing semi-basements. The inside walls were plastered in "juss" and had numerous niches and shelves, often decorated with colorful patterns and features. Ceilings were often paneled with wooden planks and painted in bright colors and floral decorations. In simpler houses and rooms ceilings were left to expose tree trunks and matting.