The thing about ancient cities is that they have a rare quality to them. Today, people don’t take the time to appreciate the value of something old, something that has watched the world change. We tend not to recognize the meaning behind what has endured the tests of time, that cities have witnessed wars, famine, victories, natural disasters, civilizations, and, most of all, nature at its most pure. It’s our natural human inclination, for some of us, to shy away from the old. But, the true beauty of ancient cities lies in their place in history. Cities carry people’s stories, memories, times of love and heartbreak, and the heartbeats of millions. Cities are the closest thing we get to how far we’ve come as a world, as generations of old and new. Here are the 10 oldest cities in the world to travel to for your DIY historical tours (not a comprehensive list, but some gorgeous cities, still):
Varanasi is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, its origins dating back to 11th century B.C. As the holy city of India, it’s situated on the banks of River Ganges, where legend says the river has the power to wash away all sins. Varanasi is known as the City of Temples (with more than 2,000 temples dedicated to Gods). It has been a long-lasting symbol of spiritualism, myth, and philosophy. If you’re looking for a unique travel destination, Varanasi is both colorful in character and soulful in age and beauty. The Tibetan Temple, Monkey Temple, and Golden Temple are three popular sights to explore on your travel adventures in India’s oldest city. Come to Varanasi to walk – your DIY historical tours will be most memorable!
Cádiz is the oldest city in Spain and one of the oldest in western Europe. It was founded as a port city by the Phoenicians in 1104 B.C. The ancient Cádiz is almost entirely surrounded by water and is now into its fourth millennium. As an interesting fact, Cádiz is home to Spain’s first signed liberal constitution (La Pepa). It’s famous for its seafood, stunning shores, and historical museums. If you need even more reasons to travel to Cádiz, try Carnaval during the spring season, which is only second in scale to Rio, or the Ruta del Tapeo festival in the summer, when bars battle it out for the title of best Spanish cuisine. Travel for Cádiz for culture and its historical tours.
Lisbon is Portugal’s coastal capital and is as old as 8th century B.C. Rolling hillsides overcasting seas of village-houses carry Lisbon’s no-filter-necessary views of cobbled streets and ancient remains and gray-capped cathedrals. The stunning nature of Lisbon, carved over centuries, is what draws millions of travel lovers each year. Lisbon is not only an ideal travel destination for photographers, artists, and architects, lovers of historical tours but also for foodies! From Michelin-rated restaurants to countless corner markets, fresh seafood dominates the food industry. Get ready to enjoy Lisbon like the locals: at a relaxed, soothing pace. You’ll quickly fall for its old-town charm! Travel to Lisbon to experience Portuguese culture!
As my personal favorite, Athens’s story begins somewhere between 11th and 7th century B.C. With a recorded 3,400 years of human history, it’s the capital and the largest city of Greece. Its extraordinary Acropolis soars above the capital below and has stood witness to Athens’s many cultural changes. The Acropolis is the site of the most beautiful masterpieces of art and architecture, the most famous of which is the Parthenon Temple. This marvelous destination is both old and modern, with a balance of worn age and delicacy. Its relics and monuments stand equal alongside its top-notch museums, cafés, restaurants, shops, and more! Come take part in a travel experience in the heart of Greece!
Luoyang is an industrial city in China’s Henan province, what’s widely known as the place where Chinese civilization began. You’ll be standing in the center of it all if you travel to this ancient wonder. History has certainly left its mark on Luoyang. The Shaolin Temple, which is a Buddhist UNESCO World Heritage Site and also the birthplace of Kung Fu, and the Longmen Grottoes, some of the finest examples of Chinese Buddhist art, are two popular sights to travel to. Luoyang is the cradle of Chinese historical culture. Be sure to check out the Luoyang Museum of Ancient Tombs if you’re into historical tours! It has over 20 ancient tombs dating back to the Han and Northern Song Dynasty. Enjoy your travel experience in one of the world’s oldest cities!
Petra is a famous archaeological site in Jordan’s southwestern desert. Dating to 300 B.C., this ancient city cradles dry plains, compelling architecture built into rugged canyons, and surrounding, Instagram-worthy mountains. Known as the Lost City, Petra still puzzles historians to this day with plenty more to uncover. It has to be seen to be believed. Petra is without a doubt Jordan’s most valuable treasure and greatest travel attraction. The site represents the engineering genius of ancient peoples. Get ready to walk through the set of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade in the footsteps of Harrison Ford and history itself!
Tyre is an ancient town on the Mediterranean coast of southern Lebanon and dates back to 2000 B.C. It has contributed to several stages in the history of human culture, including the production of purple dye (also called Tyrian purple) to identify nobility and the construction of the Temple of Solomon. Tyre has so much history under its belt that it’s amazing to see its structures still standing strong. Today, it’s the fourth largest in Lebanon and is a popular stop for travel lovers because of its ancient ruins and sacred past. One of the most interesting spectacles to see on your journey is Tyre’s hippodrome, an arena for chariot racing. It could seat 20,000 spectators and remains an important part of Tyre’s culture. Travel to Lebanon and wear purple to feel like royalty!
Gaziantep is one of the world’s oldest cities in the western part of Turkey’s Southeastern Anatolia Region and its history can be traced back to 4th century B.C. As older parts of this magical centre are being revamped, the fortresses, bazaars, and old stone houses have been restored to their original grandeur.
Gaziantep also has an astounding attraction worth the travel to Turkey for: the Gaziantep Zeugma Mosaic Museum. It’s the biggest mosaic museum in the world and it opened on September 9, 2011, so it’s new to this old-time centre. The Gaziantep Museum features certain mosaics to raise awareness against looting of artifacts. So, travel to Turkey to experience some of the most beautiful pieces of art in the world!
Plovdiv is the second largest in Bulgaria and offers you more than enough reasons to visit and then keep going back for more! It’s best loved for its romantic Old Town, full of colorful 19th-century mansions that, today, are house-museums, galleries, and guesthouses, surrounded by ancient fortress gates and historic churches. Through historical tours and restaurants and festivals, Plovdiv fuses the old with the new in a perfect combination. The Main Street, Stadium, and the ruins of the Ancient Forum are three popular travel sights to see. I guarantee you will pLOVEdiv it! Travel to Bulgaria to witness this magical place’s unrivaled history!
Larnarca is a port city on the south coast of Cyprus and is the third largest in the country. Originally established in the 13th century B.C., Larnaca is now best known for its beaches, the Church of Saint Lazarus, the Kamares Aqueduct, the Byzantine Museum, the Hala Sultan (a Muslim shrine on the west bank of Larnaca Salt Lake), and its medieval forts. Larnaca is easygoing with a distinctive laid-back feel that sets it apart from the more bustling centers of the world, perfect as a travel destination. It’s natural, sandy beauty will make you want to come back for a second visit! Travel to Cyprus for a gorgeous getaway and tailor your own historical tours!