There’s something fascinating about ancient cities that makes
you want to explore everything they have to offer. If you, too, love to
explore ancient civilizations or what remains of them, we have put
together a list of the 10 oldest cities in the world that are still standing,
reminiscent of how people lived millenniums ago.
1. Gaziantep, Turkey (3650 B.C.?)
The capital city of Gaziantep Province informally known as Antep is the
oldest city that’s still standing, with a history dating back to the Hittites
period. It was continually inhabited ever since the Paleolithic age,
experiencing serious growth along with the Ottoman Empire. Today,
Gaziantep is a friendly, upbeat city with numerous mosques, medresse,
inns and baths from centuries ago. The stone houses and vibrant bazaars
are bordered by beautiful gardens and vineyards, combining in a
spectacular sight anywhere you turn. With several museums and holy
places, you’ll surely need more than one day to experience everything
Gaziantep has to offer.
2. Jerusalem, Israel (3000 B.C.?)
A holy city for three different religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam,
Jerusalem is the place where ancient values combine with modern culture
to bring a fascinating metropolis. Jerusalem is divided into three parts –
West Jerusalem, the rapidly developing commercial part of the city, East
Jerusalem – home for the majority of the Arab population, and the Old City
– a truly breathtaking location, declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site.
Once you get tired of sightseeing, you can check out the marketplace, a
place teeming with tourist shops.
3. Kirkuk, Iraq (3000 B.C.?)
With archaeological remains that are over 5,000 years old, Kirkuk is an
important city for the Kurdish identity and also the center of the Iraqi
petroleum industry. While it may not be the most inviting tourist
destination, Kirkuk stands on the site of the ancient Assyrian, once being
the battlegrounds for three empires, Assyria, Babylonia, and Media that
took turns controlling the city. Sights include the citadel, the tomb of
Prophet Daniel, and Al Qaysareyah Market. If you want to go back in time
and see the remains of the ancient city, visit archaeological sites of Qal’at
Jarmo and Yorgan Tepe, located at the outskirts of the city.
4. Zurich, Switzerland (3000 B.C.?)
Switzerland’s biggest city and one of the oldest cities in Europe, Zurich was
established in Roman times under the name Turicum. Traces of these times
can be found throughout the Old Town – narrow streets filed with antique
shops, boutiques and cafes. Shopping is concentrated around the famous
Bahnhofstrasse, one of the most beautiful shopping streets in Europe.
Besides shopping, you can explore the city’s culture by visiting
Grossmünster or Fraumünster – two old churches with amazing interiors,
the Swiss National Museum or Kunsthaus, another popular museum. Head
down to Aussersihl – a newly developed area filled with bars, clubs,
restaurants where you can get a taste of the real Swiss life. After seeing
the city, you’ll surely find out why it was named the city with the best
quality of life in the world.
5. Konya, Turkey (2600 B.C.?)
Located 250 km from the Mediterranean Sea and 500 km from the Black
Sea, at an altitude of over 1000 meters in the Anatolian steppe, Konya is
one of Turkey’s most fascinating cities, full of mosques and museums. One
of the most popular museums is the Green Mausoleum of Mevlana
Celaleddin Rumi, a great Turkish poet. Konya has a vast array of historical
finds, kept in several museums, such as the Archaeological Museum, the
Koyunoglu Museum or the Ethnographical Museum.
6. Giza, Egypt (before 2568 B.C.)
“From atop these pyramids, forty centuries look down upon you.” —
Napoleon Bonaparte to his soldiers before the Battle of Giza, 1798.
Contrary to popular belief, Giza is a city in itself, but which got absorbed
by the rapidly developing metropolis of Cairo. It holds one of the most
important attractions in Egypt – the Pyramids of Giza, coupled with the
Sphinx at the base of the Giza plateau. Giza’s desert plateau will be part
of the Grand Museum of Egypt, a project to be completed in 2012 that will
replace the Egyptian Museum in Midan Tahrir.
7. Xi’an, China (2205 B.C.?)
With a history of over 3,000 years, the city is one of the most important in
Chinese history, being one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.
Xi’an, the eternal city, enjoys fame equal to that of other famous cities
such as Athens, Cairo, or Rome. The abundance of relics and sites of
important cultural significance gained the city the title of a Natural History
Museum. Furthermore, the Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses is
often referred to as “the eighth major miracle of the world”. The City Wall
of the Ming Dynasty is the most well-preserved towns in the world of that
period while the Famen Temple holds the finger bones of Sakyamuni — the
founder of Buddhism. All in all, Xi’an is one of the most valuable places to
get a taste of ancient China and their traditions.
8. Asyut, Egypt (before 2160 B.C.)
Located 375km south of Cairo, Asyut is the largest town in Upper Egypt
and the first settled in Pharaonic times. Today, Asyut is the region’s most
important agricultural center and home of the third largest university in
Egypt. The city has almost 400,000 inhabitants, having the highest
concentration of Coptic Christians. It is said that Virgin Mary appeared in
Asyut, an apparition even attested by the church. Apart from the religious
value, Banana Island is a great place to relax, while the 19th century
barrage on the North Edge of the city is a popular destination among
9. Luxor, Egypt (before 2160 B.C.)
Luxor, previously known as the ancient city of Thebes, the glorious city of
the God Amon Ra, has been a hot tourist destination since tourism began.
The area started attracting tourists ever since the Greek and Roman
periods. Luxor is one of the most popular cities in Egypt, its stars being
the monuments of Luxor, Karnak, Hatshepsut and Ramses III. There’s no
wonder the city is often referred to as the world’s greatest open air
museum, having a great number of well-preserved monuments. The city
in itself actually consists of three distinct areas: the City of Luxor on the
East side of the Nile, the town of Karnak and Thebes on the west side of
the Nile, across from Luxor. You can bargain your way for anything in the
city’s bazaar or enjoy the vegetarian paradise Luxor’s restaurants offer its
10. Lisbon, Portugal (2000 B.C.?)
Set on seven low hills, on the north banks of the River Tagus, Lisbon’s
charm is strongly linked to the past. Lisbon was first inhabited by Iberian
people, responsible for building the megaliths. After centuries of growing,
Lisbon is now one of the liveliest cities in Europe. The renovated palaces,
magnificent churches and Art Nouveau buildings are just a few of the
things that make up the city’s cultural heritage. There’s an impressive
collection of ancient and modern art in many of the city’s museums such
as the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, the National Coach Museum, and the
Carmo Archaeological Museum. When you’ve seen all the cultural
attractions, be sure to head down to Bairro Alto, the center of nightlife,
packed with restaurants, bars and clubs. There are also plenty of shopping
opportunities either for local merchandise at the Campo de Santa Clara or
famous brands in the Centro Commercial Colombo.
Sep 1, 2010
There’s something fascinating about ancient cities that makes