• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland



  • citadel in Erbil, KurdistanThe most important monument of Iraqi Kurdistan – a historic citadel in Erbil – is being restored with assistance provided by the Polish Embassy in Bagdad. In December, Poles completed the documentation necessary to carry out renovation works.

    Surrounded by a strong wall and thoroughly rebuilt during the Ottoman Empire  and the 20th century, the citadel towers over the modern city. In the past, the huge historical complex of buildings (covering 10 hectares) contained mosques, madrasas and a harem. Today, the citadel is an archaeological site of world significance. It hides as yet unearthed  archaeological strata 30 meters thick. Erbil itself is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, where the oldest traces of settlement date back to the 6th millennium B.C.


    The city is applying to enter the citadel on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. In the war-torn Iraq, a country of exceptionally rich archaeological heritage, there are few experts ready to conduct independent conservation research, draw up documentation and organise this type of work. The Kurdistan Regional Government, engaged in the conservation of the citadel in Erbil, has been approaching foreign specialists with requests for assistance. In 2012, Poles joined a group of international experts from France, the Czech Republic and Italy. The first results of their work can now be seen.


    “The idea of renovating one of the Erbil citadel buildings was born as early as in 2009. Stanisław Smoleń, the then Polish Ambassador, initiated Poland’s engagement in the conservation project and the selection of the B 22/3 building, which after revitalisation can be used as a sort of Polish Cultural Centre,“ says Lech Stefaniak, the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland in Bagdad.

    “The Embassy coordinates the work of the Polish archaeologists with local specialists and is responsible for fundraising. So far, Polish archaeologists have designed a construction and conservation project, which we handed over to the Commission for the Revitalisation of the Citadel in Erbil on 10 December,” adds Ambassador Stefaniak. The costs of the first stage of  the renovation work is estimated at USD 300,000.


    “The investment project is financed with MFA Small Grants administered by the MFA Department of Development Cooperation. This means that the project will be phased in over a period of 3-4 years. Next year, the Foreign Ministry will allocate PLN 200,000 to continue the project work,” adds Ambassador Stefaniak.

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