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Oldest City

old-cityTravelers want to visit the most interesting and unique places around the globe. In the search for these places, it is natural to ask yourself which the oldest city in the world is. Surprisingly or not, this question is not easy to answer at all.

The title of “oldest city” has to go to the large human settlement which has been continuously inhabited for the longest period of time. This is a great strict definition, but it is quite challenging to determine exactly which of the many old settlements around the globe meets it. This is because despite the great advancement of archeology, it is impossible to pinpoint the time of establishment of a city with perfect precision. Besides, there are new archeological findings which change previous theories and perceptions virtually all the time. Given all this, we can look at the oldest cities around the globe based on the most recent findings.

The Current Winner

1Jericho, which is located in the Palestinian Territories, is considered to be the oldest city in the world. Not surprisingly, it is in the so-called Fertile Crescent. This region is the birthplace of the earliest human civilizations thanks to its climatic conditions, water resources and soil which are perfect for agriculture.

There is solid evidence that Jericho is at least 11,000 years old. There is still a debate of whether it has been continuously inhabited or abandoned and then rebuilt. What we know for sure is that it has stood in virtually the same place all this time. The archeologists have found 20 successive settlements on its territory. The earliest discovered settlement dates back to 9,000 B.C.

The city is on the West Bank of the Jordan River. It receives its water supply from a spring, which flows into the river. Another interesting fact about it is that it is 846 feet below sea level. Jericho has religious as well as historic significance. Many ancient ruins are preserved and unique artefacts such as ceramics are on display. The nearby Mount of Temptation is home to an Orthodox Greek monastery which is a popular tourist attraction. In general, a large part of the city has retained its traditional architecture and you can really immerse into the local culture and lifestyle. It is close to the Red Sea and this is yet another reason for visiting.

The Rest of the Top 3

While Jericho currently holds the title oldest city in the world, there are many other settlements which are extremely old and are seen to be its rivals. Byblos, which is in present-day Lebanon, is considered to be the second oldest city on the planet. It is dated back to 5,000 B.C. and this makes it 7,000 years old. What we know for sure is that the city was founded by the ancient Phoenicians and was originally given the name Gebal. In fact, many historians argue that it was the very first city established by this great civilization. The name Byblos was given to the city by the Ancient Greeks because of the papyrus which was produced in it. The English word Bible comes from Byblos.
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At present, Byblos is a thriving tourist destination. It has many historic sites which are totally worth visiting. The list includes the preserved Phoenician temples, the city’s Castle, the Medival Wall of the city and the St. John the Baptist Church, which as built by the crusaders in the 1100’s. The city is also full of natural attractions – sandy beaches and warm turquoise waters coupled with a beautiful mountain in close proximity.

Aleppo in modern-day Syria is regarded as the third oldest city in the world. It was founded in 4,300 B.C. Still, some of the smaller settlements in the area have been dated back to 13,000 B.C. One of the interesting things about this city is that the modern buildings stand right on top of the ancient ones. This makes it quite challenging for archeologists to do their work. The lack of more detailed evidence has led to speculations that Aleppo is in fact the oldest city in the world.

Over the centuries, the city has been under the control of many different peoples. It was under Hittite rule until 800 B.C. Then it went into the hands of the Assyrians, the Greeks and eventually the Persians. It was part of the Roman Empire and then part of Byzantium. Eventually, it went into the hands of the Arabs, but was later besieged by the Crusaders. During considerable periods of its existence, Aleppo was in the hands of the Mongols and the Ottomans.

Oldest Cities by Region

3All of the top three oldest cities in the world are in the Middle East and most specifically in the so-called Fertile Crescent. How about the rest of the world? Faiyum is considered to be the oldest city in Africa founded in around 4,000 B.C. It is in modern-day Egypt. The modern city occupies a section of the ancient Crocodilopolis whose ancient citizens worshiped a mythical crocodile. Some of the oldest historic sites are the Hawara and Lehin pyramids. Other popular tourist attractions include the many souks and mosques.

Plovdiv, which is in modern-day Bulgaria, is regarded to be the oldest city in Europe. It was founded around 4,000 B.C. It was a Thracian settlement and became a major hub for the Greek and Roman empires. It has excellently preserved sites from these periods. The ancient Roman Theatre in the heart of the city is still used for musical and theatrical performances.

Luoyang, which is in modern-day China, is considered to be the oldest city in South-East Asia. It was first settled in Neolithic times, but it has been continuously inhabited since around 2,000 B.C. It is home to many ancient sites. The Longmen Grottoes with their Buddhist art carved into caves are the most popular.

It is certainly a great idea to visit all of these amazing cities and to explore their history. They certainly have a lot to offer to their visitors with the ancient sites being just some of the major attractions.

One Comment

  • Celina¬† says:

    How interesting. I expected to see Rome in the list too. When I was in Italy I visited very old city there, Ascoli Piceno, which was a bit more than 5000 years old. Comparing to the most cities in the world it is really old. Though, I will definitely go to the oldest city in the world one day!