The citadel town of Erbil represents the nucleus and mother of the City of Erbil. Even when the city started to grow below the mound way back in the 12th Century the citadel remained its heart and essence. During long sieges and enemy attacks most people took refuge in the upper citadel town. Until recently, it continued to house thousands of people and was a living town in its own right. Because it is right in the middle of the commercial center it was a very convenient place to live in by poor migrant families and those who worked in the center.
Until recently, the upper citadel town interacted organically and functionally with the city below. In other words, there was a strong and mutual relationship with each other, and a clear and historic symbiosis between them. In addition, the building growth of the lower town was largely only several floors high and, therefore, did not affect the visual dominance of the citadel. Although there were some exceptions but these high-rise buildings were not very close to the citadel.
It is extremely important to maintain the visual dominance of the citadel around the city. It is thought that a "Buffer" planning circle around the citadel of no less than 300-400 meters- i.e. beyond the second ring road should be designated. This buffer zone would limit any building within it to no more than 3 floors (approx.10 meters). In addition, important visual vistas from all streets and other angles should be conserved and not obstructed or disturbed.
Of course, such a proposal would face immense opposition by land owners and other greedy speculators who, as always and anywhere, look for any loopholes in municipal laws to achieve their ends. Naturally, the lack of such stringent zoning policies helped such people to exploit the situation. Recently, a huge shopping mall was unfortunately allowed to be built only 200 meters from the southern side of the historic citadel.
A recent Master Plan for the City Center, which was prepared by the Ministry of Municipalities of the KRG in 2007, does not seem to take this important factor of visual integrity of the citadel into consideration. It is hoped that the proposed Conservation Plan would take this factor into account and suggest this buffer zone and support it by legal enforcement.
A Master Plan for Erbil City to the year 2030, which has been prepared by Dar al-Handasa- a Jordanian engineering consultancy firm, shows the future city as a series of concentric circular roads starting from the citadel and extending more than 30 kilometers in all directions. In essence, therefore, this projected future plan starts with the "Bull's Eye"- the circle of the citadel and the rest of the radial growth is like ripples in water. It is most likely that the tremendous growth of Erbil City would have direct consequences on the future of the citadel- a factor the proposed Conservation Plan cannot afford to ignore