There are two ways to consider the imposing Erbil citadel, a huge mound 100 feet above the flat plain on which this city of one million sits.
One. The citadel is one of the oldest continuously occupied human settlements on earth, a Unesco World Heritage Site, and Kurdish officials have gone to great lengths to restore and preserve it despite a severe financial crisis.
Two. Six thousand years or more of human civilization have come to this: In the citadel’s central square is a tall metal pole with a Kurdish flag the size of a boxcar. Down in the new city, black smoke belches from dozens of rooftop diesel generators during daily power cuts. Their cacophonous roar disrupts the tranquillity of the scene, while hanging over it all for days on end is the pungent smell of burning plastic from a nearby trash dump.