Last Updated on November 22, 2019
Almost everyone loves to travel. But not everybody enjoys the same type of travel destinations. The ones we are about to show you are for the cultural explorers, the people who are interested in the history of mankind and civilizations, and seek to visit the remains of interesting historical periods.
Beware, because the following locations are not in your regular travel blogs: we’re talking about cities that were established as such thousands of years ago.
Old cities are fascinating. Each tells the story of our ancestors in their own way through its monuments, preserved spaces, structural remains, and, above all, through culture. Here are 7 of the oldest cities on earth… and Jamestown.
#1 – Jericho, Palestine
Every ancient cities list should start with Jericho. It may sound unbelievable, but this city is considered to have seen its first settlements in about 9,000 B.C. Our ancestors, more specifically the Natufian groups, used to build shelters in Jericho back in 10,000 B.C. or possibly even earlier, but it would take a few centuries before it was possible to establish more permanent settlements – when the Younger Dryas stadial’ droughts and cold finally ended. This makes Jericho the oldest known city in the entire world. Fascinating.
#2 – Damascus and Aleppo, Syria
These two charming Syrian cities are quite interesting in their own way. Damascus used to be considered the oldest city when archeologists collected evidence of settlement back from 9,000 B.C. But other than that, there wasn’t much evidence of other human activities from that time.
Aleppo, on the other hand, used to rival cities like Cairo and Constantinople in terms of dimension and importance. Some researches consider Aleppo, and not Jericho, to be the oldest city in the world.
These experts have a more specific concept of “city”: it’s not only a place where people establish themselves but a place where a large number of people establish and start developing communities, carrying out different sorts of human activities.
In the present time, Syria is far from being the best travel destination due to the Civil War that started in 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring.
Aleppo, for example, is still recovering from the dramatic Battle of Aleppo, a war that massacred the city from 2012 until 2016 and killed more than 100,000 people. Some important world patrimony (such as the citadel that dated back to 100 B.C.) is forever lost.
#3 – Byblos, Lebanon
Located a few kilometers north of Beirut, Byblos is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that has been occupied since 8,800 B.C. Some archeologists believe that Byblos was some kind of Egyptian colony, due to the vast number of Egyptian artifacts found in the city.
With all this cultural heritage, the city is currently emerging as a point of interest for tourists.
In 2013, it was even considered the best Arab tourist city. Book your trip, because there are many things to visit: the Byblos archaeological site, the castle, the old Sultan Abdul Majid Mosque. If you like music, the Byblos International Festival takes place every summer and is held in the historic quarter.
#4 – Plovdiv, Bulgaria
The second-largest city in Bulgaria is also one of the oldest cities in Europe. Evidence of habitation dates back to 6,000 B.C. It was a point of interest throughout human history, as shown by the fact that the city was invaded by the Persians, Celts, Greeks, Romans, Goth, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, Crusaders, and Turks.
This happened mainly because Plovdiv is located in a very fertile region (in the banks of the Maritsa River). Back at that time, fertile regions were heavily disputed, as they were so important for civilizations to thrive.
Just like Rome, Plovdiv is also called the “The City of the Seven Hill”, since it was built on and around seven syenite hills. In 2019, Plovdiv was considered the European Capital of Culture.
#5 – Athens, Greece
Everyone knows Athens. The Greeks highly influenced the entirety of western civilization in several fields of knowledge, of which we can highlight politics, finance, and arts.
Athens, the capital of Greece, was the heart of one of the most powerful empires and advanced civilizations known to Men. Its first settlements dated around 7,000 B.C., and by 1,400 B.C. Athens was the most important center for the Mycenaean – known as the first truly advanced Greek civilization.
Nowadays, Athens is one of the most interesting European cities mainly because of the way it can display its heritage of the classical era. It’s a destination that can provide great insight into the western culture since it was there that the basic foundations of the modern period were laid.
#6 – Faiyum, Egypt
Founded somewhere around 5.000 B.C., Faiyum is possibly the oldest city in Egypt (the first human habitation of Fayum dates to 7.200 B.C.). It is located in a strategic place southwest of Cairo that provided an abundance of plant and animal life.
If Ancient Egypt fascinates you, make sure to book a trip to Cairo and include Faiyum on your itinerary. Besides all the historical value the modern city inherited, you will also be amazed by the fantastic Wadi Elrayan waterfalls – the largest in Egypt.
#7 – Jamestown (Virginia), United States of America
This is far from being one of the oldest cities in the world. In fact, Jamestown is not even the oldest city in the United States (that first place belongs to St.
Augustine, in Florida, founded in 1565), but it was the location that housed the first permanent English colony – and the second oldest.
It was founded in 1607 as “James Fort” (in honor of the English King James I of England, who was the reigning king at the time), and until 1698 it was the colonial capital of Virginia.
The city later become abandoned as population and economic activity moved to Williamsburg. After the Civil War, the old town of Jamestown was in ruins.
Today, after some preservation efforts carried throughout the twentieth century, it is possible to visit the Colonial National Historical Park: a cultural heritage site that tells a piece of American history.