5 Athens, Greece
Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
Athens is not only the capital and largest city of Greece with a population of about 725,000, but it has a renowned history that goes back about 7000 years. In its golden age, Athens was the cradle of Western civilization, with remarkable advances in art, literature, architecture and philosophy that still are widely studied today. Athens is known for the Acropolis, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and for being the birthplace of democracy as a form of government.
4 Aleppo, Syria
Although archeologists have not concluded the exact age of Aleppo, their research has estimated that this city has been inhabited since about 5000 BC. It’s in the northwestern part of Syria, about 193 miles from Damascus, and is the largest city in Syria. Aleppo has a population of about 2.1 million. Historically, it was important in trade because of its roads that spread as far as China to the east and Europe to the west.
3 Byblos, Lebanon
Byblos has been continually inhabited since about 5000 BC, making it the third oldest continually inhabited city in the world. It’s built on a cliff of sandstone on the Mediterranean coast of present-day Lebanon, about 26 miles north of Beirut, with a population of about 40,000. Byblos is known for its structures such as temples and churches that have been built throughout the ages. These include the beginnings of Phoenician civilization through the Medieval days, to the antique dwellings of monumental temples built in the Bronze Age, and the Persian fortifications, as well as a Roman road and Byzantine churches.
2 Damascus, Syria
Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Damascus is the second oldest inhabited city of the world, and its existence goes back to 6300 BC. It has a population of about 1.7 million, and is located at the crossroads of the Orient and the Occident, between Africa and Asia. It was once the center of flourishing craft industries that specialized in swords and lace, and to this day it remains an important cultural and commercial center. The Bible makes many references to the city of Damascus beginning with Abraham at the time of Sodom and Gomorrah.
1 Jericho, Israel
Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images
Jericho is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, dating back to about 9000 BC. Situated below sea level, Jericho is near the Jordon River in the West Bank of the Palestinian territories and has a population of about 20,000. The Bible records this city as the one where Jesus healed Bartimaeus and dined with Zacchaeus. It’s known as the “City of Palm Trees” because of its picturesque trees and abundance of beautiful springs, which supplies the city with irrigation to grow its many gardens of fruit, flowers and spices that are exported throughout the world.