Past Cities

Arbil, Erbil, Iraq

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Arbil, also known as Erbil, is a historic city situated in northern Iraq. With a vibrant past that spans thousands of years, this city has witnessed numerous political shifts and events that have shaped its destiny. Arbil's development has been intricately influenced by its unique geographical location and the interplay between different ruling powers throughout history.

Arbil is situated on a vast plain at the foothills of the Zagros Mountains, providing it with a strategic position in northern Iraq. The city lies approximately 350 kilometers north of Baghdad and is positioned on an ancient trade route, connecting the Mesopotamian plains to the fertile lands of Anatolia. The natural geography surrounding Arbil has played a vital role in the city's history, acting as a gateway between different civilizations and cultures.

Arbil's history dates back to at least the 23rd century BCE when it was established as a settlement known as Urbilum by the ancient Sumerians. It quickly grew in importance as a center of trade and commerce due to its strategic location along the trade routes of the ancient world. The city was ruled by various powers, including the Akkadians, Assyrians, Persians, and Seleucids, all of whom recognized its economic significance.

During the Hellenistic era, Arbil came under the control of Alexander the Great and subsequently fell into the hands of the Seleucid Empire. The city's architecture and culture were influenced by Hellenistic customs during this time. Later, in the Parthian period, Arbil became a prominent center of the Parthian Empire, witnessing the construction of grand structures and the influx of diverse peoples.

With the rise of Islam in the 7th century CE, Arbil became part of the expanding Muslim Caliphate. The city witnessed several dynasties ruling over it, including the Umayyads, Abbasids, Buyids, and Seljuks. The Arabization process gained momentum during this period, as Arabic became the dominant language and Islamic culture flourished.

In the 13th century CE, Arbil endured the devastating Mongol invasion led by Hulagu Khan. The city was plundered and its population decimated. However, it managed to recover and entered a new phase of prosperity under the Turkmen rule. The Turkmen era witnessed the construction of many architectural marvels, including the historic Citadel of Arbil, which still stands as a testament to the city's resilience.

During the 16th century CE, Arbil fell under Ottoman control, remaining so for several centuries. The Ottomans brought stability to the region and allowed Arbil to flourish economically. However, the city also faced periodic conflicts and struggles for power within the Ottoman Empire. In the aftermath of World War I, Iraq came under British control, leading to the end of Ottoman rule. Arbil became part of the Kingdom of Iraq, marking the beginning of a new era.