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  • Updated: February 15, 2023

Ten Oldest Cities In The World

Many of humanity’s earliest settlements have been lost to the ruthless apathy of history but the planet’s oldest cities showcase a broad range of cultures and civilisations.

So, what is the world's most ancient city? This is a contentious issue, however, this article sort to provide answers to this question. 

Except for Antarctica, this list covers every continent (for the record, Base Orcadas is the oldest settlement in the frozen south).

The top ten oldest cities on this list are the oldest in the world and may be visited by people who wish to visit. 

For the sake of geographical justice, the list includes the oldest cities on each continent, which explains why there are locations that are less than 300 years old.

1. Jericho, West Bank

Jericho is always brought up during discussions about the oldest cities in the world.

A key trading station for much of its existence, Jericho is situated on the West Bank not far from the Jordan River and has been continuously inhabited for over 11,000 years.

It is even mentioned in the Old Testament.

Jericho was the first city given to Palestine during the 1994 Oslo Accords, and history is still being produced here.

History's high point: Visitors can visit the location where Jesus fasted after being baptized by John the Baptist.

The Mount of Temptation is where tourists should also visit, as a cable car whisks visitors up there all day long.

2. Xi'an, China

China is home to many ancient cities, but few are as significant as Xi'an.

Xi'an, which was formerly known as Chang'an, has been inhabited for more than 3,000 years and has been the seat of 13 dynasties (or if you are keeping score, 73 emperors).

It is not without justification that they refer to it as the birthplace of Chinese civilization.

The Army of Terracotta Warriors is unquestionably the most famous historical figure in Xi'an.

There are not many more well-known archaeological finds that could contest the Army of Terracotta as an archaeological discovery. 


3. Cholula, Mexico

Cholula is a bizarre fusion of the ancient and the new, with the very new and the very, very old existing inside of them like a Russian doll.

Around 500 BC, two communities were established as Cholula, which later expanded into the modern marvel of 150,000 (give or take) inhabitants that we know and adore today.

Along with the bustling marketplaces and impressive colonial architecture, Cholula is well known for its numerous churches.

Cholula is dramatically framed by Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, two of Mexico's most well-known volcanoes.

History highlight: The world’s largest pyramid (by volume) was built in four stages that spanned nine centuries (3rd BC to 9th AD), but that shouldn’t be a huge surprise. 

It is massive, after all. The majestic Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios sits atop the pyramid, as picturesque a church as you will find anywhere in Mexico.


4. Djenne, Mali

Djenné, an old city on the banks of the Bani and Niger rivers, may appear to be something out of a movie set, yet it is a very real location.

Although people have come and gone throughout Djenné's turbulent history, it was initially inhabited circa 2000 BC.

The same is true of visitors, however, the scarcity at the moment makes for a tranquil stay.

Getting to Djenne is not exactly simple; Djenné is an eight-hour drive from Bamako yet the majority of tourists enter the historic city through Mopti in the north.

History highlight: Though not the oldest structure in Djenné, the largest mud-brick structure in the world is nonetheless impressive to witness.

The current incarnation of Djenné’s Great Mosque was constructed in 1907, but mosques have been erected on this spot since the 13th century.


5. Athens, Greece

Without discussing Athens, the hub of Western civilization, we can not talk about historic cities.

The Greek capital has been continuously inhabited for more than 3,000 years and has always been on the cutting edge, providing us with everything from democracy to Western philosophy.

Athens is a city that prioritizes the present, but its countless years of history permeate every pore and crevice.

History highlight: A tour of the city takes visitors on a wild ride through some of the world's most well-known historical sites.

The historical highlights of Athens are well-documented.

In light of this, visitors can visit the Psarras Tavern, rumoured to be the city's oldest restaurant. 


6. Multan, Pakistan

Many cities in Central and South Asia claim to be the oldest; Samarkand, Peshawar, and Kandahar are just a few of the deserving candidates.

However, Multan has the upper hand due to the archaeological magic in and around the city.

Multan's timeline is a who-is-who of empires, from Alexander the Great to the British via the Mongol, Mughal, and more. Multan's history dates back a very, very long time.

The City of Saints in Pakistan is a stunning place with many interesting tales to share.

Multan is home to many tombs, but the Multan Fort is the city's most notable historical structure.

Between 800 and 1000 BC, the area's first fort was constructed.

Since then, it has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. It is a historically significant structure that is incredibly big.


7.  Sydney, Australia

It may seem weird to have a city founded in 1788 on our list, much less one on a continent that has been home to people for at least 65,000 years, but the world is a funny place.

When a ship of prisoners and soldiers headed by Arthur Phillip arrived in Sydney after an arduous journey from the other side of the globe, it became the first city to be founded in modern Australia.

The day of the city's establishment, January 26, is also observed as Australia Day, further highlighting Harbour City's significance in Australian history.

History highlight: The Old Government House, Australia's oldest public structure, is open to tourists who wish to visit. It was built at the beginning of the 19th century.


8. Luxor, Egypt

Archaeologists recently made headlines for finding the full ruins of a 1,800-year-old Roman city in Luxor.

Being the location of the Ancient Egyptian capital Thebes, Luxor is no stranger to important historical discoveries, and more may be made in the upcoming years.

Although Luxor is an archaeologist's paradise, regular travellers will also find a lot to love there.

History highlight: Tourists can Don their walking shoes and tour the temples, tombs, and other sites in Luxor, which has been called the world's most stunning open-air museum.


9. Varanasi, India

The world's oldest religious holy city must be quite old, right?

Varanasi has been a hub of study and culture for more than 3,000 years, and both believers and sceptics have spent generations exploring it.

It may be even older—Shiva is credited with founding the city—but it is now a magnificent city of temples.

Despite Varanasi's abundance of temples, the majestic Shri Tilbhandeshwar Mahadev Mandir is the city's oldest.

It was built in the 18th century, which may not seem very old given the age of the city, but it is still a beautiful building.


10. Argos, Greece

Greece has always been a destination for history buffs, so the discovery of Europe's oldest city should not come as a huge surprise.

Argos is a stunning city in the Peloponnese that previously held the title of the most powerful city in all of Greece.

Argos is a charming regional centre with plenty to occupy all types of visitors nowadays but you have to go back to 1200 BC for those times. Of course, history is king.

History's high point: The old Argos Theatre, which was partially carved out of rock, was also home to a market that existed before the exhibition centre.

More than 2,300 years after it was constructed, events and plays are being held here.

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