Top 10 Most Beautiful Ancient Cities in the World
1. Rome, Italy
It may no longer be the world’s capital, but Rome is an epic and magnificent metropolis with glorious monumentality, which keeps the memories and the traces of lost empires. You will be hooked with just one visit; the city will bombard you with its magnificent images, with the architectural heirlooms and all treasures and masterpieces of the world-famous Roman art. Take a walk inside the most distinctive landmark of Rome, the Colosseum or visit the Forum, which was the centre for social life, commerce and politics. Climb the Spanish Steps or enjoy a cup of aromatic latte in Piazza Navona. Visit the Pantheon (called „temple of all the gods“), the St Peter’s Cathedral or the Vatican Museums, and you will surely find out why Rome is such a huge tourist draw. In case you visit the city in the company of your significant other, don’t miss the chance to throw three coins into the Trevi Fountain!
2. Athens, Greece
This is probably the most magical city with the most glorious and impressive history in the whole world. Worshiped by people and ancient Gods, Athens has been a birthplace for democracy and civilization. It is the place where science flourished and most of the wise minds of ancient times were born. Nowadays the city still keeps the whiff of those glorious times and attracts millions of tourists to the mysticism of this unattainable greatness. One of the most recognizable symbols of Athens and significant reference point of the ancient culture of Greece is certainly the Acropolis. The Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Hadrian’s Arch, Roman Market, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Panathinaiko Stadium and The Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounio are also among the significant archaeological monuments. Syntagma Square, on the other hand, is the place, where the Parliament and most of the Ministries are, and where the heart of Athens beats. No matter if you dedicate your visit to scientific purposes or for entertainment, Athens definitely has a lot to offer.
3. Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Situated on the Maritsa River, Plovdiv is a beautiful and picturesque city, harbouring plenty of merits and attractions. Its unique location at some of the most significant ancient crossroads has stimulated strong political, religious and cultural influences from West and East civilizations. And yet, being older than some of the most ancient towns like Carthage, Athens, Constantinople and Rome, the city has managed to maintain its unique cultural and historical identity. One of the most remarkable sights of the town is the well -preserved Roman theatre, called Ancient Theatre, which is located in Old Town of Plovdiv and still occasionally used for open-air performances. Situated between Sahat Tepe and the Three Hills in the modern Dzhumaya Square is another important monument of the ancient city, the Roman Stadium. Dating from the reign of Vespasian in 1st century, the Roman forum is proudly located next to the Odeon, near the modern post-office. You should also pay a long and familiarization visit to the Ethnographic Museum, the Historical Museum, the Museum of Natural Science and the Archaeological Museum. Rich number of churches, mosques and temples are functioning as a home of faith and symbol of the peaceful coexistence of different religions.
4. Lisbon, Portugal
Spread across steep magnificent hillsides that overlook the Rio Tejo, Lisbon keeps the mysteries of over 20 centuries of history and the status of one of the most legendary cities of the world. From culture and architecture to festivities and incredible places for exquisite shopping; from interesting museums to wild night-life, the capital city of Portugal has all the delights you would expect to offer. Devote your time to long walks around the monumental districts: Alcântara, Alfama, Bairro Alto or Baixa, visit the marvellous parish of Lisbon, Santa Maria de Belém or purchase some souvenirs at the traditional shopping area – Chiado. Crossing the historical boulevards and observing the amazing monuments, you will definitely be astonished by the unusual amalgam of Romanesque, Manueline, Gothic, Baroque, Modern and Post-Modern architectural prints. The National Museum of Ancient Art, Museum of Portuguese-style Tile Mosaics and Calouste Gulbenkian Museum should compulsory present in the program of your visit, in order to make it complete.
5. Byblos, Lebanon
Overtaking even Rome and Greece in its development, Byblos is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited town in the whole world. Extensive archaeological investigations have proved there are remains of civilizations, dating from about 5000 BC, on the town territory. Byblos was extremely powerful, independent city-state with its own flourishing trade, culture and kings. It became a centre of arts and craftsmen in the Old World and was also widely-known for its fishing and navigation port. Therefore nowadays it boasts many various relics and monuments form the past. The Roman amphitheatre and the Phoenician Royal Necropolis, which hosts the oldest alphabetic inscription discovered in the world, are among the main highlights of the town. Another landmark, beyond any doubt, is the castle, built in the 12th and 13th centuries by the Crusaders and also the beautiful Egyptian temples, dating back to the 4th millennium. The continuous occupation of different civilizations (Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Persian, Phoenician, Byzantine, Arab and Turk) for 7000 years, have formed the special and unique character of this fabulous ancient city.
6. Jerusalem, Israel
Bearing the majestic aureole of the holiest cities of the world, Jerusalem keeps imposing history, carried by the wind for centuries. Beyond the walls, every stone of which tells astounding story, stands a great city that has drawn millions of faithful pilgrims for thousands of years. This is a city of overwhelming emotions, that offers entertaining adventures, unforgettable spiritual and religious experience, interesting tours, fascinating archaeological and historical sites. Assuredly, the heart of Jerusalem is the Old City, divided into four quarters (Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Muslim) and surrounded by wall. The Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount, the holy Western Wall, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are just small part of the sites that attract the visitors of Jerusalem’s Old City. The city is of great significance, especially for the Christians around the world for the fact that Jesus Christ lived and died here. The Christian quarter houses some 40 religious buildings and numerous sites, the most remarkable among which is the Via Dolorosa (the „Way of Sorrows,” Jesus final path).
7. Damascus, Syria
The capital city of Syria, Damascus is extraordinary with the fact it is one of the most ancient and oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It has occupied important position in the fields of industry, politics, culture, commerce and science from the earliest times. During the 2nd millennium BC, Damascus enjoyed significant prominence and upswing as centre of an Aramaic kingdom under the name of Dar-Misiq. During its continuous history, the city fell under the domination of Romans, Greeks and Byzantines. As a result, all of them have left their characteristic mark, which is still visible for the visitors of Damascus. Great number of the monasteries and churches, which were built in Byzantine era, have survived to present. Some of the most significant landmarks at Damascus are: St. Ananias Church, Damascus Citadel, Umayyad Mosque, Saladin’s Tomb, St. Paul Church, Azem Palace, Old Souqs like Al-Hamidieyeh and Midhat Pasha, Bimarstan Al-Nory, and Al-Takieh Al-Suleimaniyeh. All of these incredible sites have turned the city into a living museum, spanning thousands of years, which measures the time not by months and years, but by empires.
8. Sidon, Lebanon
Sidon is undoubtedly one of the famous names in ancient history. It has flourished and experienced its golden age between the end of the 6th century BC and the middle of 4th century BC, during the Persian era. Many cultural influences, including the Egyptian Pharaohs and the Greeks, have contributed to the formation of the cultural outlook of the city. During the Persian period, by means of Aegean sculptors, was finished the temple of Eshmun, who was the god of the city. During the Crusader period (1110-1291 AD), Sidon was crowned with new prestige, becoming the second of four baronies of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Today, the historic core of the city is the Old City, located between the St. Louis Castle and Sea Castle. Debbane Palace, Sidon Soap Museum, Eshmun Temple and The Bahaa El-Din Mosque are also among the sights, which should not be missed.
9. Xian, China
Characterized by and proud of its ancient heritage, Xian is the first of China’s Four Great Ancient Capitals, the start of the Silk Road and imperial capital for eleven dynasties between 1000 BC and 1000 AD. Along with Cairo, Athens and Rome, Xi’an is among the great four major ancient civilization capitals of the whole world. The city boasts numerous important sites and exquisite architectural heritage. Beyond any doubt, the most famous and Xi’an’s biggest draw, is the magnificent Terracotta Army of the Qin emperor, Qin Shi Huang. You should definitely not miss the rest of the remarkable world class cultural, historical, natural, ancient and religious attractions the city hosts. Some of the most significant among them are: The Ancient City Wall, Banpo Museum, The Great Mosque, Huaqing Hot Springs, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Mount Hua, The Forest of Steles, Small Wild Goose Pagoda, Famen Temple and the Qianling Mausoleum.
10. Aleppo, Syria
Being the meeting point of several important commercial roads in the north, since ancient times Aleppo has been a link in trade between Egypt, Mesopotamia, and the Fertile Crescent. During the period of the Hamadani state, established by Sayf Addawla in 944 AD, Aleppo was proclaimed as the capital of Syria. These were the glorious times, when the city celebrated its rapid development in the field of medicine, literature and science. It was famous especially for its architecture, which took shape in the attractive tombs, bats, schools, churches and mosques. Nowadays Aleppo is famous and appealing for its ancient Citadel with medieval fortress, for the extraordinary souqs (bazaars), the Al-Shibani Cultural Centre, Beit Achiqbash (an old Aleppine house), the great Umayyad mosque, Al- Nuqtah Mosque and The Central Synagogue of Aleppo.