Special Report

The Oldest Continuously Inhabited Cities in the World

The history of Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East is one of conquest. Dozens of empires have come and gone, each leaving their mark on the places they’ve conquered. Many cities that still exist in these areas have seen the rule of Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Romans, Arabs, and Ottomans, to name a few. Despite changing hands, these cities, often on coastal or inland trade routes, have remained occupied.

24/7 Tempo has compiled the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world. Most of these cities are in the Middle East, where agriculture is known to have originated, and where multiple civilizations developed independently during the Neolithic period of history. Some of these cities have been destroyed multiple times by invading armies, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Here are great cities that came back after being nearly destroyed.

Some of the oldest cities were first founded by the Phoenicians, a seafaring Semitic-speaking people who settled mainly in the Levant region on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Their trade routes led them to establish port colonies on several Mediterranean Islands, as well as along the north coast of Africa and the Iberian Peninsula of Spain.

History is piled upon itself in some of the oldest cities. A few have retained their original Hellenistic urban layouts. Remnants of ancient architecture often linger among the modern structures. Historic fortresses, aqueducts, temples, baths, and castles can be seen in a majority of the cities. Here are Europe’s most beautiful castles.

Click here to see the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world

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