Kaleli Turkmen of Erbil told about the ancient culture and life of the historical castle

Kaleli Turkmen of the Iraqi city of Erbil stated that in the past mainly Turkmen lived in the historic site, which was evacuated in 2009 and restoration work continues, that the residents of the castle went to their shops in the historic Kayseri Bazaar to work, but over time, they moved to the surrounding neighborhoods for various reasons.

Erbil Castle, one of the symbols of the city, is a World Heritage Site of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) decided in 2009 to evacuate the houses to protect the historic castle.

The restoration work of the historic castle, which is considered one of the centers of the first urbanization in Mesopotamia, started in 2009 and has continued since.

The castle, which houses many historic houses, museums and cultural centers, is one of the places visited by the inhabitants of the city and the tourists.

For the Turkmen of Erbil, who were born in the castle, spent their childhood here and descended from the castle over time, the historic castle means a lot.

Kaleli Turkmen of Erbil told AA correspondent about the ancient culture, life and memories of the historical place.

“Most of the castle was Turkmen, they spoke the Turkmen language”

Turkmen antique dealer Halis Yunus Mustafa has been practicing his trade for 50 years in his 2-storey antique shop near the historic castle.

Mustafa, who was born in the castle in 1956, stated that his father and grandfather were also born here and that he attended primary school at the castle school.

He said he spent his childhood in the castle and recalled that all his childhood memories are in the castle. The school was also close to our house. In high school I went down from the castle.” he said.

Noting that they left their homes in the castle in 1977 and that some families left the castle in the 1950s and 1960s, Mustafa said:

“My father always told my mother. At that time there were Turkmen and Jews in the castle. But there were no other nations. Of course 90 percent, mostly Turkmen from the castle, spoke the Turkmen language. Then, in 1964, our Kurdish brothers came and became residents of the castle. We lived like brothers.

But I don’t remember the time of the Jews. It was the 1930s, 1940s. My mother and father, they used to say. The religion of the Jews was Jewish, but their language was Turkmen. The Jews of the castle spoke Turkmen.”

The gate of the castle was locked after the night prayers for security reasons.

Sanan Ahmet Ağa, who was the head of the Iraqi Turkmen Front between 2000-2003 and graduated from Baghdad University’s Faculty of Law in 1968, was born in 1943 in Erbil’s Tekiye district.

Ağa stated that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were also born in the castle and noted that there are three quarters of Erbil castle, and these are Saray, Tophane and Tekiye.

He stated that his childhood was very good in the castle, but because of his family’s work, Ağa said: “Now that the families have grown, everyone has landed in Erbil. Neighborhoods have grown, cities have come too.” he said.

Ağa said: ‘Whoever used to have a house in the castle went to the Kayseri Bazaar to work. Then they would go to the castle for evening prayers. Previously, the gate of the castle was locked after evening prayers, after night prayers. (In the morning) It would not open until the adhan for security reasons.” used his statements.

There were those who continued their lives without getting rid of the castle.

Mahmut Çelebi, chairman of the Turkmen National Will Party, was born in 1946 in the Saray Mahallesi of the castle.

elebi stated that the inhabitants of the castle had various occupations in the past, such as cloth, butcher and greengrocer in the Kayseri Bazaar, noting that cloth came from Mosul and Aleppo and that the city was a trading city at the time.

elebi recalled that in the summer months greenery is planted around the castle on the sunlit sides, and recalled that these are also sold in Kayseri Bazaar, such as products from the villages.

Çelebi said: “Women’s lives were also much simpler. There were many women who did not see Erbil or did not. In the castle that died to his mother, in the castle that died. His corpse would go down alone.” he said.

Traditional Castle Door Prayer of the Castle Residents

dr. Cemal Terzioğlu also studied in the first class of the castle school.

Terzioğlu recalled that he had a good time in the castle and that his relatives lived here and said: “What I remember, students and teachers in general, are all known. In general, most were Turkmen or spoke Turkmen.” used the expression.

Terzioğlu stated that in the past the inhabitants of the castle had a tradition of praying in front of the castle gate, saying:

“If the ladies made a wish on Friday evening before the night prayers, they would take one or two children and sit on one side of the castle mosque. Men used to go to the mosque to perform night prayers. If the words of men when leaving the prayer are good and positive, the ladies would say that my wish will come true. Otherwise, if a negative word came out of his mouth, they’d say it wouldn’t come true.”

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