Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Thursday 16 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cornelius and Cyprian
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

The seven oldest cities in the world

BYBLOS LEBANON

Ostill | Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 09/14/17

Some of them flourish, while others struggle to survive.

When one thinks on the oldest cities in the world, one tends to think of open blue skies over buildings made of clay bricks amidst some eroded marble columns, crowded with tourists taking pictures of the remains of an ancient temple or fortress.

Reality, as usual, is way more complex. Aleppo, for example, arguably the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, is nowadays struggling to overcome the onslaught of a long civil war; but Plovdiv, in Bulgaria, has managed to balance the comforts of contemporary life with the beauty of its historical past.

These seven cities, the oldest in the world according to Matador Network, are examples of both splendor and survival:

7. Sidon, Lebanon (4000 BC)

SIDON LEBANON
Diak | Shutterstock

Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine, took place here. Forty kilometers from Beirut, on the Mediterranean coast, the “Old City” of Sidon is a maze of perfectly preserved adobe streets and arcades.

6. Faiyum (El Fayoum), Egypt (4000 BC):

FAIYUM EGYPT
Roland Unger | CC BY-SA 3.0

One hundred kilometers south of Cairo, Faiyum is located on the foundations of what used to be “Crocodilopolis,” an ancient temple town in which the sacred crocodile, Petsuchos, was worshiped. Today, it is home to large bazaars, mosques and luxury resorts around Lake Qarun.

5. Susa, Iran (4200 BC):

SUSA IRAN
Ahmadreza Nikazar | Shutterstock

Aeschylus’ tragedy “The Persians,” considered the oldest preserved work in the history of theater, takes place in Susa. The city is also mentioned in the biblical books of Esther, Nehemiah and Daniel: it is said that both Nehemiah and Daniel lived here, and it was in this city where Esther was named queen, by marrying Ahasueurus, saving the Jewish people from genocide.

4. Damascus, Syria (4300 BC):

DAMASCUS SYRIA
Everett Historical | Shutterstock

According to some, Damascus has been inhabited since the year 10,000 BC, although this is still a matter of debate. One of the largest cities of antiquity, it was conquered by Alexander the Great, and ruled by Romans, Arabs and Ottomans successively.

3. Aleppo, Syria (4300 BC):

ALEPPO SYRIA
Pietro Ferreira | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Aleppo has been, since its very foundation, the crossroads of multiple trading routes. No wonder Hittites, Assyrians, Arabs, Mongols, and Ottomans disputed this city’s dominion.

2. Byblos, Lebanon (5000 BC):

BYBLOS LEBANON
Ostill | Shutterstock

The cradle of the Phoenician alphabet was also, for centuries, the main paper-exporting city to Greece. Forty kilometers from Beirut, Byblos attracts tourists from all over the world thanks to an exceptional combination of beaches, mountains and ancient ruins.

1. Jericho, Palestinian Territories (9000 BC):

JERICHO PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
Eugene R Thieszen | Shutterstock

Gleaming in the distance from the banks of the Jordan, Jericho is surely the oldest city in the world. Archaeologists have found remains of more than 20 settlements dating back more than 11,000 years, although the city has been abandoned several times throughout its history.

Tags:
ArchaeologyHistory

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
CELEBRITIES
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
2
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
3
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
4
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
5
Mychal Judge
John Burger
The priests of 9/11
6
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.