ERBIL, Iraq — 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.
The warren of alleyways in the old town had become overcrowded slums as the historic buildings crumbled from neglect, but in 2006, the authorities relocated the more than 500 families elsewhere, in what was one of the Middle East’s most ambitious preservation projects.
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.