Every city in the world has a story to unfold. The ancient cities have all the more tales engulfed with rich cultural heritage to share. They have an intriguing history, beautiful architecture, and showcase the imprints of evolving human civilisations. Most of the oldest cities in the world have stood the test of time besides human invasions and geographical calamities. So let’s take a look at 10 ancient cities around the world that are still thriving today.
Damascus, Syria – 11,000 years old
Also named as the capital of Arab culture, Damascus is the oldest city in the world that has seen many of the great civilizations rise and fall. According to some research studies and evidence, Damascus was first inhabited in the second half of the seventh millennia B.C. It is the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, and is a prominent cultural centre of the Arab world. Today Damascus is a metropolitan area with more than two million population and was named the Arab Capital of Culture in 2008.
Aleppo, Syria – 8,000 years old
Aleppo serves as the capital of the Aleppo Governorate, and it has been continuously inhabited for more than 8,000 years. It is a fact that the remnants dating back to 11,000 B.C of human settlements have been found there. Aleppo is actually located between the Mediterranean Sea and Mesopotamia, and due to its geographical location, it became an important trading hub during the ancient era. However, due to warfare between the government and rebel forces that have killed thousands and forced many to flee from their homes, Aleppo has been facing devastation since 2012.
Byblos, Lebanon – 7,000 years old
Located around 42 kilometre north of Beirut, Byblos is the oldest and the largest city in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon. It is believed to have been first occupied by humans between 8800 and 7000 BC and continuously inhabited since 5000 BC. Also, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is believed that the first import of papyrus in Greece took place in this city. This city is also an archaeological wonder because of the successive layers of debris resulting from centuries of human habitation.
Argos, Greece – 7,000 years old
Argos is a city in Argolis, the Peloponnese, Greece and is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. According to research, Argos remained neutral throughout history, and did not participate in the Greco-Persian Wars. Argos hosts around 22,000 residents today and numerous ancient monuments can be found here.
Athens, Greece – 7,000 years old
Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. It dominates the Attica region with its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC. This city is also an ancient home of philosophy and the birthplace of Western civilisations. In fact it boasts of habitation that goes back long before the days of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The city withstood the test of times and was a subject of complete destruction following the Dorian and Persian invasions. Today, Athens is a sprawling metropolis and the oldest capital city in Europe.
Susa, Iran – 6,300 years old
Susa orwas an ancient city of the Proto-Elamite, and one of the most important cities of the Ancient Near East (the home of early civilizations within a region roughly corresponding to the modern Middle East). Its location is close to the Tigris River and hence made it one of the most important cities in the ancient world. It was believed that the city was once completely destroyed by the Assyrians but then was quickly rebuilt and then it saw its most glorious days during the Persian Empire.
Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan – 6,000 years old
Erbil has been inhabited, over the millennia, by the Persians, Greeks, Romans, Mongols and Ottoman Turks. At the center of the city, rests the Erbil Citadel, also known as Hawler Castle which is an ancient structure that dates back to 2,000 B.C. The Erbil Citadel, is an artificial mound and the historical city center of Erbil. Erbil is known for its modern malls, ancient sites, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sidon, Lebanon – 6,000 years old
Inhabited for at least the last 6,000 years, Sidon was one of the most important Phoenician cities because of its location as a crucial port on the Mediterranean. Sidon is the third-largest city in Lebanon and is located in the South Governorate. Glass production had made Sidon both rich and famous and the city came to be known for being progressive. Also, the Phoenicians were known for their skill in ship-building and navigating the Mediterranean Sea.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria – 6,000 years old
Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria. Plovdivs’ history spans across more than six millenniums, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe. Excavations show that people have been inhabiting the ancient town on the Nebet Tepe Hill since 4000.C. The city was an important Persian, Thracian, Macedonian, and Ottoman hub. Today, Plovdiv is the second biggest city in Bulgaria and an up-and-coming tourist hub.
Varanasi, India – 5,000 years old
Varanasi is the oldest city in India and also the birthplace of the oldest religion – Hinduism. Also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi this city is located on the banks of the river Ganges in the Uttar Pradesh state of North India and dates back to the 11th century B.C. This city draws Hindu pilgrims and tourists from all across the world. These pilgrims bathe in the river Ganges and also perform the funeral rites. There are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the Golden Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva along the city’s winding streets.