The 20 Oldest Cities In The World Still Inhabited

 These cities, which are the 20 oldest continuously inhabited places on the planet, are a real opportunity to travel back in time . Although few ancient cities have managed to withstand the test of time, some still stand, better than that, they still live. Here are the 20 oldest cities in the world where life has never stopped in full swing. (In parentheses, you have the date on which the first inhabitants settled).


20. Varanasi, India (1000 BC)

Located on the west bank of the Ganges, Varanasi , also known as Banaras, is an important holy city for both Hindus and Buddhists. According to legend, it was founded by the Hindu god Shiva 5,000 years ago, although modern researchers believe it to be almost 3,000 years old.


19. Cadiz, Spain (1100 BC)


Nestled on a narrow strip of land that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, Cádiz has been the cradle of the Spanish navy since the 18th century. It was founded by the Phoenicians as a trading post and fell to the Carthaginians around 500 BC, becoming a base for Hannibal's conquest of Iberia.


18. Thebes, Greece (1400 BC)

Great rival of ancient Athens, Thebes dominated the Boeotian confederation and even provided assistance to Xerxes during the Persian invasion of -480. Archaeological excavations have revealed Mycenaean settlements dating back even further. Today, Thebes is no more than a simple town, a small commercial city.


17. Larnaca, Cyprus (1400 BC)

Founded by the Phoenicians as Cition , Larnaca is well known for its pretty palm tree-lined waterfront. Archaeological sites and numerous beaches attract visitors today.


16. Athens, Greece

The cradle of Western civilization and the cradle of democracy, the legacy of Athens is still very evident. The city is filled with Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman monuments and remains a very popular tourist destination . Alexander the Great once said: “Great are the dangers I face in gaining fame in Athens. »


15. Balkh, Afghanistan (1500 BC)

Known as Bactres (or Bactra) in antiquity, Balkh is located in northern Afghanistan and is described as "the mother of cities" by the Arabs. It reached its peak between 2500 and 1900 BC before the rise of the Persian and Median empires. Modern Balkh is home to the region's cotton industry.


14. Kirkuk, Iraq (2200 BC)

Located approximately 240 km from Baghdad, Kirkuk stands on the site of the ancient Assyrian capital of Arrapha. Its strategic importance was recognized by the Babylonians and Medes, who also controlled the city. The ruins of a 5,000-year-old citadel are still visible, while the city is today the seat of Iraq's oil industry.


13. Erbil, Iraq (2300 BC)

North of Kirkuk is Erbil, which was dominated at various times by the Assyrians, Persians, Sassanids, Arabs, and Ottomans. It was a major stop on the Silk Road while its ancient citadel, which rises 26 meters high, still overlooks the horizon.


12. Tyre, Lebanon (2750 BC)

The legendary birthplace of Europa and Dido, Tire was founded around 2750 BC, according to Herodotus. It was conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 BC following a seven-month siege and became a Roman province in 64 BC. Today, it is mainly tourism that keeps the ancient Roman city alive: the Tire racecourse is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is written in the Bible: “Tyre, she who distributed crowns, she whose merchants were princes. »


11. Jerusalem, Israel (2800 BC)

The spiritual center of the Jewish people and the third holiest city of Islam, Jerusalem is home to several major religious sites, including the Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall , the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and the al-Aqsa Mosque. During its history, the city was besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, captured 44 times and destroyed twice.


10. Beirut, Lebanon (3000 BC)


Capital of Lebanon, as well as its cultural, administrative and economic center, the history of Beirut dates back approximately 5000 years. Excavations in the city have uncovered Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman remains, while the city is mentioned in letters to the pharaoh of Egypt as early as the 14th century BC. Since the end of the Lebanese civil war, Beirut has become a bustling and modern tourist center.


9. Gaziantep, Türkiye (3650 BC)


In southern Turkey, near the border with Syria, Gaziantep's history stretches as far back as the Hittites. The Ravanda Citadel, restored by the Byzantines in the 6th century, is in the city center, while Roman mosaics have also been discovered here.


8. Plovdiv, Bulgaria (4000 BC)

The second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv was originally a Thracian fortified city, before becoming a major Roman city. It later fell into the hands of the Byzantines and Ottomans, before becoming part of Bulgaria. The city is an important cultural center and is home to many ancient remains, including a Roman amphitheater and aqueduct, as well as Ottoman baths.


7. Sidon, Lebanon (4000 BC)

About 40 km south of Beirut is Sidon, one of the most important, and perhaps the oldest, Phoenician cities. It was the base from which the great Phoenician Mediterranean empire grew. Both Jesus and Saint Paul are said to have visited Sidon, as did Alexander the Great, who captured the city in 333 BC.


6. Medinet el-Fayoum, Egypt (4000 BC)

Southwest of Cairo, Fayoum occupies part of Crocodilopolis, an ancient Egyptian city that revered Petsuchos, a sacred crocodile. The modern city of Fayoum consists of several large bazaars, mosques and baths, while the pyramids of Lehin and Hawara are nearby.


5. Susa, Iran (4200 BC)

Susa was the capital of the Elamite Empire before being captured by the Assyrians. It was then taken by the Achaemenids under Cyrus the Great. This is the city where the play The Persians by Aeschylus is set, an Athenian tragedy which is the oldest play in theater history. The modern city, Shushan, has a population of approximately 65,000.


4. Damascus, Syria (4300 BC)

Cited by some sources as the oldest inhabited city in the world, Damascus may have been inhabited as early as 10,000 BC, but the debate remains open to this day. It became an important center after the arrival of the Arameans, who established a network of canals, which still form the basis of its modern hydrological networks. Another conquest of Alexander the Great, Damascus has since been in the possession of the Romans, Arabs and Ottomans. Its wealth of historic sites made it a popular tourist destination, until recent unrest hit it.


3. Aleppo, Syria (4300 BC)

The most populous city in Syria with nearly 4.4 million citizens in its metropolitan area, Aleppo was founded under the name Halab around 4300 BC. While the ancient site is occupied by the modern city, it is barely touched by archaeologists. The city was under Hittite control until around 800 BC, before passing through Assyrian, Greek and Persian hands. It was then occupied by the Romans, Byzantines and Arabs, besieged by the Crusaders, then recaptured by the Mongols and Ottomans.


2. Byblos, Lebanon (5000 BC)

Founded “ Gebal ” by the Phoenicians, Byblos received its name from the Greeks, who imported papyrus from the city. The word Bible is derived from Byblos. The main sights of the city are ancient Phoenician temples, Byblos Castle and the Church of Saint John Mark, built by the Crusaders in the 12th century, as well as the medieval old city walls. The Byblos International Festival (music) is a more modern attraction.


1. Jericho, West Bank (9000 BC)


The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, archaeologists have unearthed the remains of 20 successive settlements in Jericho, dating back more than 11,000 years. The city lies near the Jordan River in the West Bank and is now home to around 20,000 residents.

For information, the other oldest European cities are Lisbon (around 1000 BC), Rome (753 BC), Corfu (around 700 BC) and Mantua (around 500 BC).

Cleph Gist

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