Damascus, the current capital of Syria, has a long and colorful history that stretches back nearly 12,000 years. Located in a fertile region well-watered by the Barada river, it was a prime target of numerous kings and conquerors – and often wound up on the losing side.
Over 4 million people live in metropolitan Damascus today and, partly due to a skilfully constructed network of canals built nearly 3,500 years ago, boasts a multitude of parks and green spaces. Since 1979 Damascus has been UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Jericho, West Bank
The ancient city of Jericho is the world’s oldest walled city, with evidence of stone fortifications dating back nearly 9,000 years; long before the “walls came tumblin’ down” events depicted in the Bible. Archaeological digs have turned up traces of habitation that are even older: up to 11,000 years ago!
Not only has Jericho been continually inhabited for over one hundred centuries, scientists have uncovered a virtual layer cake of settlements – 20 in fact, built one on top of the other down to the present day.
Dating back to approximately 8000 BC, the ancient Iranian city of Susa rose to prominence again and again under Elamite, Babylonian, Achaemenian, Greek, Parthian, Sasanian and Persian civilizations.
Today Susa is known as “Shush” though things have rarely been quiet there over its very long life.The 7-foot tall basalt stele was taken back to Susa in the 12th century BC and rediscovered in 1901. It now resides in Paris’ Louvre Museum.
One way of measuring a city’s age is to note the number of names it has had. In the case of Plovdiv, the list begins with Eumolpias, changing to Philippoupolis when it was conquered by Philip II of Macedon (Alexander the Great’s father) in 342 BC. Centuries passed and Philippoupolis became Trimontium, then Philippoupolis again, then Paldin, Filibe and finally Plovdiv.
Holy to a number of the world’s leading religions, 5,000-year-old Jerusalem was already settled centuries before any of them had their tenets put to paper, papyrus or pre-fired clay. According to the Wikipedia, “In the course of its history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.”