To name the oldest cities in the world, much research needs to be done. Mainly because it is not specified if we are looking for inhabited locations or uninhabited locations.
- 1. Jericho, Palestinian Territories
- 2. Byblos, Lebanon
- 3. Aleppo, Syria
- 4. Damascus, Syria
- 5. Shush, Iran
- 6. Faiyum, Egypt
- 7. Sidon, Lebanon
- 8. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- 9. Gaziantep, Turkey
- 10. Beirut, Lebanon
- 11. Jerusalem, Middle East
- 12. Tyre, Lebanon
- 13. Erbil, Iraq
- 14. Kirkuk, Iraq
- 15. Luoyang, China
- 16. Balkh, Afghanistan
- 17. Athens, Greece
- 18. Larnaca, Cyprus
- 19. Thebes, Greece
- 20. Varanasi, India
Some of these that will be listed may not be occupied by living residents any longer. Some, if not most, are still going strong today.
1. Jericho, Palestinian Territories
Jericho is considered the oldest city in the world. Jericho is a small city, with 20,000 inhabitants. The city has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. It is still standing today.
Jericho is home to Mount of Temptation, the location where Jesus was tempted by the devil. It is believed that Moses’ tomb lies somewhere within Jericho. Jericho has many historical sites and some Religious sites for visitors of all types.
2. Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos has located in current day Lebanon. The city was once known as Gebal. Byblos is considered to be one of the oldest Phoenician cities. Byblos lies near the Mediterranean Coastline. This is also the location where the Phoenician Alphabet originated. Visitors will enjoy sites such as the Crusader Castle and also Phoenician Royal Necropolis, which is located near the Castle.
3. Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo is a city in Syria with roughly 4.6 million. Aleppo serves as the capital governorate. Aleppo is located 50 miles away from both the Mediterranean and also the Euphrates River. Aleppo is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the entire world. Due to the continuous inhabitation and consistent building, archaeology to find ancient ruins or artefacts is almost impossible.
4. Damascus, Syria
Located in present-day Syria, it is believed that it was found in the 3rd millennium. The variety of cultures is what makes Damascus what it is today. One can see Roman and Greek planning, as well as Islam and the Great Mosque. This Mosque is considered one of the oldest and largest Mosques in the world.
5. Shush, Iran
Shush, Iran is a small city of 50,000 inhabitants. It is located in Khuzestan, Iran. This is also the site of the ancient city of Susa. There are numerous historical sites that can be visited, museums that will tell you about the history and also the Tomb of Daniel, who was the Biblical and Islamic Prophet. Shush is located near three rivers and surrounded by rich lands.
6. Faiyum, Egypt
Faiyum is the original home to the worship of the Crocodile God. The region of Faiyum, Egypt is known as the region of fertility and abundance of animal and plant life. Faiyum was barren desert land. When the Nile River silted up, a branch of the river flowed towards Faiyum and turned the area into a rich oasis of freshwater, plant life and animals. This branch of the river became known as ‘Joseph’s River. Joseph as in the book of Genesis in the Bible, or Joseph in the Quran. These two are counterparts of one another.
7. Sidon, Lebanon
This city is believed to have been inhabited since the 3rd millennium BC. Sidon is the third-largest city in Lebanon and is also the capital. Homer often referenced Sidon in his writings, and Dison is also mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible. It became prosperous in the 2nd millennium BC. Ruled by many different forces, this location that is famous for its purple dyes and glassware has fallen, been destroyed and rebuilt many times.
8. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
This ancient city has changed hands numerous times, by various rulers. In the older quadrant of the city, Trimontium, there are still remnants of the ancient Roman walls. There are also ruins easily seen of Tzar Ivan Asen II’s fortress and the accompanying Monastery close by. Many institutions around the city are home to the ancient Gold Vessels. Today, the city thrives with a vast array of ethnic and religious cultures.
9. Gaziantep, Turkey
Still often referred to as Antep, Gaziantep is the capital of the Southeastern Anatolia Region. The city had always been a strategic stronghold until captured by the Turks. Based on ancient pieces of pottery that were unearthed, it is believed that Gaziantep has been occupied since the 4th millennium. Among the many historical items is one that is noteworthy and a must-see.
The fortress of the Byzantine Emperor, as well as a few Mosques that date back to the 11th and the 16th Centuries. There is also an ancient or medieval theological college that is home to a collection of Hittite Seals that have been unearthed over time in the region.
10. Beirut, Lebanon
Named for the ancient Canaanite name for an underground water table, Beirut proudly takes its place on the list of oldest cities. The water table is still in use today. Beirut had been mentioned in 2nd Millenium Egyptian records, Beirut did not become a prominent city until the Roman colonization in 14 BCE. Beirut still lies at the centre of violence between countries, religions and cultures.
11. Jerusalem, Middle East
Jerusalem is and always will be considered the Holy City. Jerusalem plays the part of a centralized home for three monotheistic Religions. The Jewish, Christians and the Muslims. The Christians see it as the location of the agony and suffering, then the triumph of Jesus. The Jews it is the focus of age-old wants, proof of grandeur and independence.
The Muslims believe it to be the goal of the Prophet Mohammed’s night journey and also the site of one of the World’s Most Ancient Shrines. All three will forever consider it a Holy City, one of pilgrimage and devotion.
12. Tyre, Lebanon
Tyre is definitely one of the oldest and continually inhabited cities in the world. Although for a few centuries, it had a very small population. The remains of the old Phoenician town lie under the present city.
The belief is that Tyre was originally founded as a colony of Sidon. Tyre was responsible for answering up to Egypt, at least until the Egyptian influence began to wane. There is quite a bit written in regards to Tyre, in the Christian Bible.
13. Erbil, Iraq
Erbil is the capital of Kurdistan, Iraq. It is also the most populated city in Kurdistan. The city dates back to possibly 2300 BCE. Erbil was already an ancient city when Alexander the Great defeated the Persian King. The city was an early center of Christianity.
The famous Citadel, recently designated as a World Heritage Site. Sitting on a tell, otherwise known as a mound, it has had centuries of successful historical periods of construction. This was a common pattern in Middle Eastern Archaeology.
14. Kirkuk, Iraq
Located north of Baghdad, Kirkuk has a diverse population including Kurds, Arabs and Turkmen. Kirkuk is located on the ruins of the original Kirkuk Citadel near the Khasa River. During the 9th and 10th Centuries, Kirkuk was called Arrapha. This was during the Assyrian Prominence. Today, Kirkuk is able to sustain increased expansion due to crude oil production.
15. Luoyang, China
This is a centrally located city in China. It is recognized as the original location where Chinese civilization began. Luoyang is China’s ancient Capital city during a multitude of dynasty reigns. It is also home to Beima Si, China’s first Buddhist Temple. The Longmen Grottoes, which are located nearby, are still visible where visitors can admire the ancient Buddhist rock carvings that date to the 5th Century.
16. Balkh, Afghanistan
Records show that the earliest inhabitants of Balkh arrived in 1300 BC. Arabs are known to describe Balkh as the ‘Mother City’. Balkh did reach a peak between 2500 BC and 1900 BC. Today, Balkh is home to the major Cotton industry. However, the city was totally annihilated by Gengis Khan and the Mongols, in 1220. As a modern village, today it sits amongst the ruins of the Ancient walls of Bactra. Other remains and ruins in Balkh include Buddhist reliquary mounds and Islamic Shrines and Mosques.
17. Athens, Greece
It is believed that Athens has been continuously inhabited for at least 7000 years. Athens is home to Roman, Greek, Byzantine and Ottoman ruins and remains. These monuments make Athens one of the most popular tourist cities today.
Not only is Athens the capital of Greece, but it sat at the heart of Ancient Greece also. The Acropolis, the Citadel and other ancient buildings are showcased throughout Athens. It is also believed that some of the World’s Greatest Philosophers came from Athens.
18. Larnaca, Cyprus
The earliest history of settlers in Larnaca was in 1400 BC. Today there are many historical ruins, archaeological sites, and beautiful beaches to be seen and visited. Home to Mackenzie Beach, a world-famous dive site not far off the shore, the MS Zenobia shipwreck is seen daily by multiple divers. The Church of St. Lazarus, a ninth-century Church, holds the tomb of Lazarus, the Saint who rose from the dead.
19. Thebes, Greece
Once known as a huge market rival to Athens, Thebes is now little more than a small market town. The earliest inhabitants settled here in 1400 BC. Archaeologists have been able to date it further back due to recent discoveries of a Mycenaean settlement. The most popular Greek Tragedies hail from Greece, as did the Ruler King Oedipus.
20. Varanasi, India
Believed to be first inhabited in 1000 BC, Varanasi is most often considered the oldest city in the world. Varanasi is a large metropolis that sits on the Ganges River. It is a well known and devoted site for Pilgrimage, Death and mourning among the Hindus. The Ganges is considered to be Sacred water and Varanasi is home to more than 2000 Temples, including the one dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.