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10 Oldest Cities in the World You Must Know About

Cities have been the birthplace of human civilization throughout history, bearing witness to the victories and tragedies of many generations. They started out as small, dispersed camps and grew into thriving centers of trade and culture, changing the direction of human history. Echoes of former empires reverberate in their historic streets and soaring monuments, narrating stories of conquest and invention. Cities have weathered the effects of war and aging over the millennia, serving as symbols of human tenacity. We are reminded of our common history and the unwavering spirit that unites us across the years as we stroll along their illustrious roads today.

List of 10 Oldest Cities in the World You Must Know About

  1. Damascus, Syria
  2. Aleppo, Syria
  3. Byblos, Lebanon
  4. Argos, Greece
  5. Athens, Greece 
  6. Susa, Iran
  7. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan
  8. Sidon, Lebanon
  9. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
  10. Varanasi, India 

1. Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria, is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, a distinction it bears with its history lost in the mists of time. Damascus is a living example of the tenacity and durability of human civilization, with a history spanning more than 11,000 years. Situated in the bountiful plains of the eastern Mediterranean, the city has long been a hub for commerce, culture, and power. With stoic elegance, Damascus has withstood the test of time, having grown from its humble beginnings as a little town beside the Barada River to its current status as a thriving metropolis. From the Babylonians and Assyrians to the Romans and Byzantines, it has seen the rise and fall of civilizations, each leaving its lasting imprint on the city’s famed streets.

Damascus has been an intersection of cultures, ideas, and faiths for most of its lengthy history, creating resilient and diverse surroundings. A maze of tiny lanes, old mosques, and medieval souks, its Old City is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Every step you take is a reminder of years gone by.

Damascus is a living example of humanity’s unwavering struggle for survival and advancement, and it continues to shine despite the difficulties posed by modernity and strife. A monument to the enduring charm of one of the oldest towns in the world, the spirit of Damascus lives on in its historic stones and vibrant marketplaces.

2. Aleppo, Syria

Aleppo, Syria, whose history dates back to the sixth millennium BCE, proudly claims to be one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Aleppo, located at the intersection of historic trade routes, has long been a bustling hub of the fertile crescent’s trade, culture, and civilization.

Aleppo has seen the rise and fall of several civilizations over its illustrious history, including the Hittites, Assyrians, Romans, Byzantines, and others. Because of its advantageous location, it was sought after by conquerors, who shaped its landscape with imposing citadels and elaborate mosques. The city’s historic streets, where footsteps echo through ages past, are a testament to its rich legacy. Aleppo’s Old City, a maze of tiny lanes and ancient sites that is recognized by UNESCO, is proof of the city’s resilience in the face of hardship.

As attempts to rehabilitate and restore Aleppo’s cultural assets continue, the city remains a symbol of optimism and perseverance despite the devastation caused by recent fighting. Aleppo’s heartbeat reverberates through the centuries in its historic walls and vibrant marketplaces, serving as a constant reminder of the city’s ageless charm and eternal history. Aleppo is among the oldest cities in the world.

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3. Byblos, Lebanon

Situated peacefully on the lovely Mediterranean coast, Byblos, Lebanon, is home to one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited towns, having been inhabited since the fourth millennium BCE. Admired as a historic Phoenician harbor, Byblos was crucial in determining the path of ancient history. Byblos thrived as a center of marine trade and cross-cultural interchange, acting as a bridge connecting the East and the West. Because of its advantageous position, the Phoenician alphabet spread quickly, establishing the basis for written communication systems that would influence civilizations for thousands of years to come.

Byblos is still a fount of archeological treasures today, with its well-preserved ruins and ancient port providing windows into its glorious past. Rising silently over the turquoise waves, the city’s old castle is a testament to the perseverance and hard work of generations past.

Byblos’ ageless appeal and rich legacy enthrall tourists even in the face of modernity’s obstacles and the passing of time. One of the oldest cities in the world, with its meandering lanes filled with colorful market stalls and antique items, attests to the city’s lasting legacy. The whispers of history are heard on every winding street.

4. Argos, Greece

Argos is one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited settlements, dating back to the Neolithic era, about 6000 BCE. Encrusted in myth and legend, Argos holds a legendary position in the chronicles of ancient Greece, its past entwined with the gods’ and heroes’ tales.

Argos was a well-known city-state in antiquity that was essential to the political, social, and religious life of ancient Greece. It was well-known for its contributions to philosophy, literature, and the arts, in addition to its military strength. Ancient remnants of the city, including the impressive Larisa castle and the well-known Sanctuary of Hera, which was built in the eighth century BCE, bear witness to its rich archeological past. Views into the city’s distinguished history and its lasting legacy as the birthplace of Greek culture are provided by these historic landmarks.

Even after thousands of years have passed, Argos is still a thriving modern city where the beats of current life blend with the memories of its past splendor. Traveling through its historic alleyways and seeing its historical riches transports tourists to a bygone past, the birthplace of Greek tales and the cradle of Western civilization.

5. Athens, Greece 

Greece’s Athens, regarded as one of the world’s oldest cities with a history spanning more than 3,400 years, is a shining example of civilization. Athens, known for being the birthplace of Western civilization, has had a profound impact on history by influencing democracy, philosophy, literature, and the arts.

During the Golden Age, Athens prospered, emerging as a hub of creative and intellectual success from its modest origins as a tiny hamlet on the Acropolis hill to its height as the powerful city-state of ancient Greece. One monument to its lasting influence is the Parthenon, which still dominates the city’s skyline as a symbol of Athenian democracy and cultural superiority.

Athens is still a thriving city today, with historical ruins coexisting peacefully with contemporary architecture. Every year, millions of tourists go to the Acropolis and the other archaeological monuments, wanting to follow in the footsteps of Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. Athens’ rich history and dynamic culture are on display in the city’s theaters, museums, and lively districts, guaranteeing that the city’s essence will enthrall and inspire future generations.

6. Susa, Iran

Susa, which dates back more than 6,000 years, is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited towns and is situated in modern-day Iran. Antiquity saw Susa grow as a hub of trade, culture, and political power due to its advantageous location at a crossroads between Mesopotamia and the Iranian plateau.

Susa, the capital of the Elamite civilization, was crucial in determining the path that ancient history took. It functioned as a center for cultural and diplomatic relations between the major Near Eastern empires, such as the Persian, Babylonian, and Assyrian ones. The vast remains of the city, which include the striking Apadana Palace, the imposing Chogha Zanbil ziggurat, and the recognizable Tomb of Daniel, bear witness to the rich archeological legacy of the city. These historic structures serve as subtle reminders of Susa’s rich history and its ongoing significance as the birthplace of civilization.

Susa is still a monument to the tenacity and inventiveness of people, even after millennia have passed. Visitors from all over the world are still enthralled by its ancient remains, which provide a window into the opulence and elegance of one of the oldest cities on Earth. Susa is a place where the ghosts of the past resonate through the years, reminding us of the importance and eternal appeal of our common human history.

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7. Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil, is considered to be one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, having been inhabited for over 8,000 years. Nestled on the lush plains of Mesopotamia, Erbil has long been a hub of trade and civilization, serving as a crossroads of cultures.

Erbil, the ancient Arbela city, saw the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Babylonians, the Assyrians, and the Persians. It also witnessed the rise and collapse of empires. Its advantageous location made it a sought-after target for conquerors throughout history, sparking a number of sieges and conflicts that have altered the region’s geography. One of the oldest continuously inhabited urban districts in the world, Erbil’s historic citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a testament to the city’s rich archeological past. The maze-like pathways and edifices of the citadel provide insights into the city’s colorful history and its lasting influence as a stronghold of civilization.

Erbil is still a thriving, resilient city where old customs coexist peacefully with modern life, despite the difficulties of modernization and violence. Its lively culture, ancient sites, and busy bazaars draw tourists from all over the world, acting as a live example of the resilient character of one of the oldest towns in the world.

8. Sidon, Lebanon

Sidon dates back to the fourth millennium BCE, making it one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. Sidon, a Phoenician city-state, established colonies throughout the Mediterranean and beyond while playing a significant role in maritime trade and exploration.

Sidon has a rich history of blending many cultures and civilizations, including Greek, Roman, Arab, Phoenicians, and Assyrians. Because of its advantageous position, conquerors sought it out and put their imprint on the region with magnificent fortresses, temples, and marketplaces.

The impressive Sidon Sea Castle, the Temple of Eshmun, and the old souks of the Old City are just a few examples of the ancient remains that bear witness to Sidon’s rich archeological legacy. A window into the city’s glorious past and its ongoing legacy as a hub of trade, culture, and invention is provided by these well-preserved ruins.

Sidon is a thriving, resilient city where old customs coexist with modern life, despite the difficulties of modernization and conflict. Its thriving port, historical sites, and diverse culinary scene all draw tourists from all over the world, acting as a live example of the resilient character of one of the oldest towns in the world.

9. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in Europe, having been inhabited for more than 6,000 years. Plovdiv was formerly established by the Thracians and has since been a hub for many civilizations, cultures, and religious traditions.

Plovdiv prospered under a number of governing bodies, including the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, and Ottomans, as a key location along historic trade routes. The city was influenced by every era that came after, creating a diverse array of architectural designs that ranged from Ottoman mosques and Renaissance houses to Roman amphitheaters and Byzantine cathedrals.

Plovdiv’s well-preserved Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, whose cobblestone lanes snake past antique buildings, quaint homes, and lively marketplaces, is a testament to the city’s rich archeological past. One of the best-preserved Roman amphitheaters in the world, the city is a monument to its long history and continuing cultural relevance.

Plovdiv nevertheless enthralls tourists today with its unique combination of old-world beauty and contemporary history. For those looking to experience the ageless charm of one of Europe’s oldest cities, it is a must-visit location because of its strong food scene, active arts sector, and friendly attitude.

10. Varanasi, India 

Varanasi—also referred to as Kashi or Banaras—is among the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, with a history spanning more than 3,000 years. Nestled in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is rich in spirituality, culture, and mythology. It is situated along the banks of the holy Ganges River.

For thousands of years, Varanasi, one of the holiest towns in Hinduism, has been a hub for pilgrimages and education. Devotees swarm its historic ghats, or riverbank steps, to wash in the Ganges’ holy waters and engage in cleansing and prayer rites. In addition, Varanasi is also known for its extensive cultural legacy, which is entwined with Indian literature, music, art, and philosophy. Since ancient times, the city has been a hub for education and intellectual discussion, drawing researchers, poets, and philosophers from all over the subcontinent.

Varanasi, where age-old customs coexist peacefully with contemporary life, is a timeless city that has withstood the test of time and the winds of change. Its labyrinthine lanes, busy markets, and vivid temples give views into the spiritual and cultural fabric of India, making it a must-visit destination for tourists wishing to immerse themselves in the ancient traditions of one of the world’s oldest towns

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These historic cities, which individually contain the wounds and victories of ages past, act as living archives of human history. We are reminded of our common history and the eternal legacy of those who came before us as we stroll through their timeless streets and take in their age-old beauty. The past is more than just a faint recollection in these oldest cities; it is a real presence that calls us to investigate, discover, and get in touch with the antiquated rhythms of human civilization.


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Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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