When people think of the world’s oldest cities, they usually imagine old and decaying metropolises with disease-filled medieval grids. And while that’s certainly a part of it, the truth is that there are some pretty cool old cities out there. If you’re looking for the world’s oldest cities, then you might want to check out these 10 old cities. These places may not be as fancy as modern cities, but their age and history say a lot about them!
Damascus, Syria – Founded between 8,000 and 10,000 B.C.
Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world, and it is also known as the “City of a Thousand Splendors.” Home to some of the world’s oldest surviving architecture, and with an atmosphere that is as old as the city itself, you won’t find a more fascinating place to visit. With just a few more centuries of history, Damascus would become one of the ancient world’s great cities! The city’s intense beauty can be seen in its architecture, historic sites, and bustling souks. If you’re looking for a place with a lot of history, a fun trip to Damascus is definitely worth considering.
Athens, Greece (3000–1500 bce)
Just a few years after Sparta defeated Thebes in the Battle of Plataea, Thebes rose up in rebellion against the Spartans. The young Spartans, however, were organized, well-armed, and had a lot of experience fighting one another. After a quick counter-offensive, the Spartans were victorious, and Thebes was forced to pay a crushing tribute. But the damage had been done: the Persians, who were marching to Greece from Asia, had a chance to smell Thebans’ blood and took control of the city. The Athenians, on the other hand, rose up against the Persians, and after a long and hard-fought battle, the city was liberated. This is one of the most famous military rescues in history, and it is the stuff of legend! Nowadays, the Acropolis of Athens is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, and it is also the location of the Parthenon, one of the most recognizable ruins in all of Greece. If you’re in the mood for a historical tour, then a trip to Athens is definitely worth considering.
Sidon, Lebanon – Founded in 4,000 B.C
Sidon is one of the oldest walled cities in the world, and it is also one of the most popular. Home to the world’s oldest university, the city is also known for its great architecture. While some of the city’s historic sights are extremely ancient, many are also quite modern and user-friendly. If you love architecture, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Sidon. And if you’re traveling with kids, you may just want to take them on a tour of the city to show them the modern architecture and nice places to stay. Sidon has a lot to offer, and if you’re in the mood for a fun, educational tour, you should definitely consider visiting the city.
Rayy, Iran – 6,000 B.C.
At the edge of the Zagros mountain range in Iran’s East Azerbaijan Province is a place called Rayy. According to some legends, it was once the capital of a Median kingdom, and now it is one of the world’s oldest cities. If you’re in the mood for a more historical tour, Rayy is definitely a place worth considering. The city is incredibly beautiful, with incredibly old houses and a great deal of history. Although, if you’re looking for a fun place to tour, Rayy isn’t the place.
Jerusalem, Israel – 2,800 B.C.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and one of the oldest cities in the world. With the Old City as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city having a long and rich history, it’s no surprise that Jerusalem was chosen as one of the world’s oldest cities. The city is also known for its great architecture, with places like the Wailing Wall and the Old City Walls obviously drawing inspiration from nearby ancient sites. While most people think of Jerusalem as the place where the two seemingly-never-ending conflicts, the Muslim and Jewish, come to an end, it is also a much more diverse city than that. Today, it is a the center of political and religious defiance against the Palestinian Authority. If you’re in the mood for a city with history and a lot of character, you might want to consider a visit to Jerusalem.
Faiyum, Egypt – 4,000 B.C
Faiyum is not only one of the oldest cities in Egypt, it is also one of the best-preserved. A city of cobalt-blue temples, Faiyum is like a time capsule, with its intact and luxuriously-fitamin-enriched streets and squares. The city was actually built on the ruins of another city, which dates back to 3,000 BC. If you love architecture, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Faiyum. The place might not be as pretty as Luxor or Thebes, but it’s definitely got a lot more history.
Byblos, Lebanon – 5,000 B.C
Byblos is an ancient city in the Southern Lebanon Mountain range, and it is also one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world. Home to the world’s oldest university, the city was actually settled by the Canaanites, who were then displaced by the Phoenicians. Byblos was then taken over by the Assyrians, who called it Berytus. With the Crusaders later taking control of the city, it became the seat of the Crusaders’ County of Jaffa. Today, Byblos is a thriving port city, and it is also known for its natural beauty, cobalt-blue lochs, and lots of friendly, helpful locals.
Jericho, Palestinian Territories – 9600 BCE
If you’re in the mood for a less historical tour, then you might want to consider visiting the city of Jericho. Home to the world’s earliest surviving urban planning and architecture, and with a history that dates back hundreds of years, it’s no surprise that Jericho is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is also one of the most endangered, with only a small portion of the original city remaining. If you’re in the mood for a more active tour, then you can definitely visit the ruins at Tel Zawr, or the Old City. Both are beautiful, and are definitely worth a visit, no matter what your age.
Plovdiv, Bulgaria – 4,000 B.C.
Located in southwest Bulgaria, Plovdiv is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Home to an incredible assortment of architectural styles—including medieval, Venetian, and Ottoman—Plovdiv is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. If you’re in the mood for a more local experience, then a visit to Plovdiv is definitely worth considering. The city is also a great place to visit with kids, as it is filled with lots of fun and interesting places to visit.