The citadel town of Erbil is elliptical in overall form and rises to about 28-32 meters above the surrounding city below. Because of this height it dominates the city's skyline although, recently, this visual domination has become seriously threatened by new high-rise commercial development very close to it. If this high-rise development is continued to be allowed it will soon be completely suffocated and its dramatic visual dominance will be a thing of the past.
Its longer dimension (east-west axis) is about 430 meters long and its shorter one (north-south axis) is about 340 meters long. It encloses an area slightly more than 10 hectares. The slope, which surrounds the citadel all around, is earthen and steeply inclines between 35 to 60 degrees. The slope is steeper on the northwestern side than other sides.
The climate of the city is semi-arid continental in nature, with four clearly defined seasons. Summers are hot and dry with mean temperature highs of 39-43 degrees Celsius and without rainfall. Winters are mildly cold averaging some 7 degrees Celsius with an average of 56 mm. of rain. Spring is a most pleasant season in Kurdistan. Mean high temperatures range from 13-18 degrees Celsius in March to 27-32 degrees in May.
However, during the hot summer time, the citadel enjoys a markedly cooler micro-climate. This is because its narrow alleyways provide continuous shade and induce pleasant breezes. Moreover, the interiors of its traditional buildings offer a very pleasant and comfortable environment. Open courtyards are usually planted with trees and occasionally have water fountains. The thickness of brick walls and other passive cooling techniques such as semi-basements and window screens offer added advantages.