Top 10 oldest cities in Europe
Top 10 oldest cities in Europe - Knowinsiders.com

What are the oldest cities in Europe?

While many of the world's oldest cities, settled around the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, are off-limits to travellers at present, Europe's most ancient settlements are very much open to visitors.

Some of the oldest cities in Europe include Plovdiv, Athens, Chania, Lisbon, Chalcis, Cadiz, Patras, Nicosia, Seville, Malaga, and Rome among others.

List of top 10 oldest cities in Europe

10. Chalcis, Greece

9. Larnaca, Cyprus

8. Kutaisi, Georgia

7. Thebes, Greece

6. Athens, Greece

5. Patra, Greece

4. Chania, Crete

3. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

2. Cádiz, Spain

1. Argos, Greece

Detailed info for top 10 oldest cities in Europe

10. Chalcis, Greece

Photo: Britannica
Photo: Britannica

Chalcis, Modern Greek Khalkís, city and dímos (municipality) on the island of Euboea (Évvoia), periféreia (region) of Central Greece (Modern Greek: Stereá Elláda), western Greece. It lies at the narrowest point (measured only in yards) of the Euripus (Evrípos) channel, which separates Euboea from the Greek mainland and divides the Gulf of Euboea into northern and southern gulfs.

The earliest recorded mention of Chalcis is in the Iliad (2.537), where it is mentioned in the same line as its rival Eretria. It is also documented that the ships set for the Trojan War gathered at Avlis, the south bank of the strait nearby the city. Chamber tombs at Trypa and Vromousa dated to the Mycenaean period were excavated by Papvasileion in 1910. In the 8th and 7th centuries BC, colonists from Chalcis founded thirty townships on the peninsula of Chalcidice, and several important cities in Sicily. Its mineral produce, metal-work, purple and pottery not only found markets among these settlements, but were distributed over the Mediterranean in the ships of Corinth and Samos.

9. Larnaca, Cyprus

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Larnaca, Greek Lárnax, Turkish Lârnaka, or Iskele, port town, southeastern Republic of Cyprus. The modern town, on the bay between Capes Kiti and Pyla, overlays much of ancient Citium, founded by the Mycenaeans in the 13th century BCE; it was rebuilt by the Byzantines. Citium was the birthplace of the Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium, the founder of Stoicism. Its modern name (meaning “Funerary Urn” in Greek) recalls the many tombs under its soil. The modern port, developed during Ottoman occupation (1571–1878), was enlarged after the Turkish intervention (1974) in northern Cyprus closed the island’s main port at Famagusta.

Larnaca is known for its schools, which include the American Academy (1908). According to tradition, Lazarus of Bethany settled there after his resurrection and became its first bishop; the chief church bears his name. Artifacts from archaeological excavations in the area are displayed in the regional museum housed in an Ottoman fortress erected in 1625.

If you are staying in Larnaca Cyprus, you will at some stage come across the Finikoudes promenade. It is famous for its palm-lined pedestrian esplanade, filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes. As well as its lovely sandy beach lined with sun loungers, umbrellas, and clean water.

8. Kutaisi, Georgia

Photo: TripSavvy
Photo: TripSavvy

Kutaisi is located in the Imereti region on the banks of the river Rioni. Kutaisi is the administrative center of Imereti Region. It is one of the oldest cities in Georgia and fifth among the oldest cities in Europe. The city has been inhabited since ancient times. The existence of colchian culture is confirmed here from the XV-XIII centuries BC. Documentary history of Kutaisi dates back to the III century BC, though ancient authors considered it the capital of the kingdom of Colchis (VIII BC).

Nowadays, Kutaisi is the second city of Georgia with its developed infrastructure and culture. There are higher and professional colleges, museums, theaters, galleries, etc. There are also restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas and other important places in the city where you can enjoy a relaxing and enjoyable time. Kutaisi attracts many tourists with its abundance of historical and cultural monuments. The castle of Ukimerioni, Gelati, Bagrati Cathedral, as well as many other cultural and natural monuments and the beauty of the city itself will surely make you fell in love with Kutaisi.

7. Thebes, Greece

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Thebes, Modern Greek Thíva, dímos (municipality) and city, Central Greece (Modern Greek: Stereá Elláda) periféreia (region). The city lies northwest of Athens (Athína) and was one of the chief cities and powers of ancient Greece. On the acropolis of the ancient city stands the present commercial and agricultural centre of Thebes. It is situated on a low ridge dividing the surrounding plain; the modern city is the seat of the Greek Orthodox bishop of Thebes and Levádhia. It has abundant springs of water, the most famous in antiquity being called Dirce, and the fertile plain in the vicinity is well irrigated.

Thebes is a small place in Greece and can be easily explored within a day. There aren’t many things to do and attractions to visit in this town. Also, being a small town, there are fewer accommodation options. People usually consider making a quick stop here before heading to the neighboring cities. You can halt here for a quick snack and take a little break from your journey.

You can check out the list of the cities near Thebes and find out the top things to do in these towns. So, the next time you are in Thebes, you can decide which neighboring city to visit for a memorable trip.

6. Athens, Greece

Photo: Gavel International
Photo: Gavel International

Athens is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, with its recorded history spanning over 3,400 years and its earliest human presence starting somewhere between the 11th and 7th millennium BC.

The cultural and social life of Athens plays out amid, around and in landmarks that are centuries old, if not millennia. The remnants of Ancient Greece get the most attention, of course, thanks to a little thing called democracy. Oh, and mythology, and drama, and philosophy. But don't overlook the 'later' years: thousand-year-old Byzantine churches, for instance, which squat, unruffled in the middle of streets and attached to hillsides. Ottoman traces can be seen in architecture and in food. And the neoclassical style of the 19th century adds elegance all over the centre.

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5. Patra, Greece

Photo: Agoda
Photo: Agoda

Greece's third-largest city, Patra is named after King Patreas who ruled Achaïa around 1100 BC. Little is evident of this busy port's 3000 years of history, during which it was an important trade centre under the Mycenaeans and the Romans. Though there's a gritty side to the city, it has attractive squares and lively pedestrian streets, and a great bar and restaurant scene filled with the young and the trendy.

Though most travellers come here to hop on a ferry or cross the Rio–Andirio suspension bridge, an engineering feat that links the city with western continental Greece, it's well worth spending a day or two, visiting Patra's wonderful castle and archaeological museum and making the most of the diverse eating choices and nightlife, fuelled by the presence of Patra’s 20,000 university students.

4. Chania, Crete

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

Chania is a city in Greece and the capital of the Chania regional unit. It lies along the north west coast of the island Crete, about 70 km (43 mi) west of Rethymno and 145 km (90 mi) west of Heraklion.

The municipality has 108,642 inhabitants (2011). This consists of the city of Chania and several nearby areas, including Kounoupidiana (pop. 8,620), Mournies (pop. 7,614), Souda (pop. 6,418), Nerokouros (pop. 5,531), Daratsos (pop. 4,732), Perivolia (pop. 3,986), Galatas (pop. 3,166) and Aroni (pop. 3,003).

Chania is a small, picturesque town worth getting to know, where you’ll almost certainly stay longer than you intended, enjoying tasty food, the wonderful harbour, old buildings. great architecture and many more.

Chania is also one of the two places you are most likely to see on arriving in Crete.

It is beautiful - that is to say, much of the Chania you will want to see is clustered close to the harbour - old buildings, museums, churches and crafts shops (some with genuinely interesting and sometimes local, products on offer).

The Venetian, Turkish, traditional and modern architecture coexist in harmony in the city of Chania, creating a unique and attractive scenery for the visitors. Archaeological sites, temples, squares, and unique buildings adorn the attractive city of Chania.

3. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Photo: Intrepid Travel
Photo: Intrepid Travel

Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria, standing on the banks of the Maritsa river in the historical region of Thrace. It has a population of 346,893 as of 2018 and 675,000 in the greater metropolitan area. Plovdiv is the cultural capital of Bulgaria and was the European Capital of Culture in 2019. It is an important economic, transport, cultural, and educational center. During most of its recorded history, Plovdiv was known by the name Philippopolis after Philip II of Macedon.

With an easy grace, Plovdiv mingles invigorating nightlife among millennia-old ruins. Like Rome, Plovdiv straddles seven hills; but as Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, it’s far more ancient. It is best loved for its romantic old town, packed with colourful and creaky 19th-century mansions that are now house-museums, galleries and guesthouses.

But cobblestoned lanes and National Revival–era nostalgia are only part of the story. Bulgaria’s cosmopolitan second city has always been hot on the heels of Sofia, and a stint as European Capital of Culture 2019 seems sure to give Plovdiv the edge. Music and art festivals draw increasing crowds, while renovations in the Kapana creative quarter and Tsar Simeon Gardens have given the city new confidence. Once an amiable waystation between Bulgaria and Greece or Turkey, the city has flowered into a destination in its own right – and one that should be on any itinerary through central Bulgaria.

2. Cádiz, Spain

Photo: Azamara
Photo: Azamara

Cádiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the Province of Cádiz, one of eight that make up the autonomous community of Andalusia.

Cádiz, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, with archaeological remains dating to the 8th century BC, was founded by the Phoenicians. It has been a principal home port of the Spanish Navy since the accession of the Spanish Bourbons in the 18th century. It is also the site of the University of Cádiz.

1. Argos, Greece

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Árgos, city, seat of the dímos (municipality) of Argos-Mykínes in the northeastern portion of the periféreia (region) of Peloponnese (Modern Greek: Pelopónnisos), Greece. It lies just north of the head of the Gulf of Argolís (Argolikós Kólpos).

Today, Árgos is a prosperous agricultural and commercial centre for vegetables and fruits grown in the plain and for food-processing industries based on them. Pop. (2001) 24,630; (2011) 22,209.

Read More: Interesting Facts About Argos - The Oldest City in Europe