They call it citadel but it's an old circular city with remparts all around, the whole site being situated on a hill in the exact center of Kurdistan's capital.
Walking around the citadel is about the discovery of the souks, an extraordinary mosaic of sidewalks shops selling absolutely anything and everything.
Like in other souks, the merchandise is grouped by type so the walker passes sequentially into a bazar of shoes, T shirts, sunglasses, watches, belts, then spices, tools, paintings, books, agricultural machines and air conditioners!
The main square of Erbil's city center
The constructions at the foot of the citadel are built around a large square that includes a pool covered with glass walkways, although nothing is left of the latter's transparency.
Under the shopping arcades of Erbil's main square, one can expect any kind of edible and non-edible items, but fortunately no lawn mowers or plower machines like to the other side of the citadel!
Loud speakers flood the shoppers with pre-recorded noisy adverts repeating the prices a thousand times, in a desparate brain wash of the passer-by, whose chances to surrender (and buy) would then be amplified by this cerebral hammering technique.
In contrast, Erbil's "Big Ben" is so silent unlike the one of London's Palace of Westminster
One Million Colors
Textiles, souvenirs, handbags, scarfs, carpets and babouche slippers, a million items of a million colors; are these shops owned by magicians and do they sell flying carpets?
Are we inside an "Iznogoud" episode of the famous comic character?
Another million confectionery items and dozens of different honey kinds, not recommended for diabetics.
The Street Food of Erbil's Souks
Not all merchants of Erbil's souks like to sell a million item as some are rather "specialized" like the street kiosks offering fresh food on the go.
The kebab stands seem to be so popular and sell cheap and satiating sandwiches.
Not sure however if you'll loose your apetite before or after eating...
This trolley offers not less than a dozen types of oriental coffees, all prepared in brass and copper pots coming straight forward from the Bronze Age.
The design is unchanged but the layout of the bright utensils lets you believe you're in front of a coffee lab or factory, a kind of mobile plant operated and controlled by the smart phone of its owner.
Back to colors as fruit and fruit cocktail kiosks offer all kinds of juices, pulp or any combination of liquid and solid pectins.
Don't be lost however and make no confusion: if you're seeing a watermelon stand with a luxury car in the background, then no doubt you're in Erbil!
Cafe with a local Kurdish taste
At last a cafe where one can have some rest and order a coffee. I like the typical decoration and how the chairs all point to the same direction like in a theater. The movie is live before your eyes and tells the story of Erbil's daily open markets. Actors are no celebrities and the producer is totally unknown.
Finally, and in case you order a cappuccino somewhere, you may expect a specific decoration drastically differing from the classic Italian leaves. Don't let your imagination go far however, stick to geometrical oriental patterns and put aside the idea of a ...spider net.
Post scriptum: the element in the center is a fresh coffee bean.