The world has seen the rise and fall of millions of human-made cities, no news there. Some rose to great fame and power, only to be conquered, destroyed or abandoned – that is the way of life, and human nature. What’s even stranger, new old cities are being discovered all the time, beneath the sands and ice and mud they are found, mere shadows of what they once were.
However, some rare cities stand the test of time, as do their inhabitants. The following fifteen cities have all been continuously inhabited for centuries upon centuries, and that’s something worthy of attention and respect.
15. Balkh, Afghanistan
People first settled in Balkh around 1,500 BCE. It is known as the “Mother of Cities” by the Arabic people, since many communities, industries and empires sprung from it, including the Persian empire. Between 2,500 BCE and 1,900 BCE the city flourished.
14. Kirkuk, Iraq
Kirkuk was first settled in 2,200 BCE. The city has been controlled by a number of peoples, including the Babylonians and the Media. Today, a 5,000 year old citadel can still be seen.
13. Arbil, Iraq
This majestic city first came to be in 2,300 BCE. It was once of major importance for trade and wealth; through the centuries, the city has been in the hands of numerous peoples, including the Persians and the Ottomans. When the Silk Road was functional, it was one of the many important stops along it.
12. Tyre, Lebanon
Just looking at the grand beaches and colourful buildings makes it clear why this city was, and is, so appealing. First settled in 2,750 BCE, Tyre has survived conquering and numerous leaders and warlords. Alexander the Great took the city, for instance, and ruled over it for years.
11. Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine
Jerusalem is perhaps one of the most well known cities in the Middle East, if not the world. It was settled in 2,800 BCE and has been a prominent part of human history ever since. Seen as a religious center to the Jewish people, Jerusalem contains many ancient artifacts and buildings, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the al-Aqsa Mosque.
10. Beirut, Lebanon
In 3,000 BCE,Beirut was first settled. Since its completion, it has been a major centre for Lebanon. In fact, it is the capital of Lebanon and boasts cultural and economic dominance. It has survived, and thrived, for over 5,000 years and has held Roman, Arab and Ottoman peoples throughout its life.
9. Gaziantep, Turkey
Gaziantep has been ruled by a multitude of different peoples. Since its creation in 3,650 BCE,the city has changed hands from the Hitties to the Babylonians, Persians, Romans and Arabs. The Turkish city holds many unique and ancient artifacts, including citadels and mosaics.
8. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Plovdiv Bulgaria has been on this earth for over 6,000 years. Settled in 4,000 BCE,the city was once Tracian owned, before switching hands to the Romans. It later became part of the Ottoman empire before finally becoming Bulgarian.
7. Sidon, Lebanon
This amazing city was also settled in 4,000 BCE. Sidon was captured by Alexander the Great, and was also reportedly visited by Jesus and St. Paul. Because of its great and influential past, it is a major spot for archaeologists.
6. Faiyum, Egypt
This ancient city inhabits a section of Crocodilopolis, an ancient Egyptian city. Its old roots reach back to 4,000 BCE,over 6,000 years ago. The name Crocodilopolis tells of the ways of the almost forgotten city, in which a sacred crocodile called Petsuchos was worshipped by the people.
5. Susa, Iran
In 4,200 BCE, the now ancient city of Susa was settled. Now, the city has 65,000 inhabitants, although once it may have been larger. It is now called Shush and lives on through the years with its ancient-seeming population. Long ago, it was conquered by the Assyrians and then the Persians.
4. Damascus, Syria
Damascus holds the title of the world’s oldest living city by some historians. They believe that it may have been around during 10,000 BCE. However, many more believe it was settled in 4,300 BCE. In fact, more evidence may point toward the latter, although debate still occurs. Regardless of its antiquity, Damascus is still one of the oldest and most important city to have ever existed.
3. Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo was settled in 4,300 BCE. Unlike many living cities, Aleppo remains Syria’s most populated city. It has over 4.4 million inhabitants and boasts old and new innovation. In the past, other than the usual empires that conquered most of these cities, it also was besieged by Crusaders and the Mongols.
2. Byblos, Lebanon
Over 7,000 years ago, Byblos was first settled as Gebal. In 5,000 BCE,the ancient city was founded by the Phoenicians. It was given its current name by the Greeks and its name. Byblos, as om “Bible”, has many attractions such as castles, churches and temples that date back thousands of years.
1. Jericho, Palestinian Territories
Jericho is by far the oldest living city in existence. It was settled in 9,000 BCE,over 11,000 years ago. To put this into perspective, giant ground sloths were just going extinct and cattle had been domesticated only 500 years prior.