Not Athens, But This City In Syria Is The Oldest Inhabited City In The World Since 11,000 Years

by Mallika Khurana
Not Athens, But This City In Syria Is The Oldest Inhabited City In The World Since 11,000 Years

When we think of the world’s oldest cities, Athens and Egypt may often come to mind, but there’s one city that predates them all: Damascus, Syria. For over 11,000 years, it has stood as a testament to human history and resilience, continuously inhabited since ancient times. Damascus, with its labyrinthine souks, the whispering Umayyad Mosque, and the aroma of spices and sizzling shawarma, offers an enchanting journey through time. Here, the past is ever-present, and history echoes through the city’s ancient streets.

Damascus, The Oldest City In The World

Photo Credits: Canva

Imagine a city that predates recorded history, where the very sands of time have settled for millennia. Damascus’s origins are shrouded in mystery, and its ancient roots run deeper than the pyramids of Egypt or the temples of Greece. Its strategic location made it a coveted prize throughout history.

It has been conquered, reconquered, and rebuilt by numerous civilizations, including the Romans, Byzantines, and various Islamic dynasties. The city’s architecture bears witness to these diverse influences. The city’s bustling markets, or “souks,” once welcomed merchants from far-flung corners of the world. It was a melting pot of cultures, a place where the riches of the Silk Road flowed through its streets, creating an atmosphere of vibrant cultural exchange.

This Old City of Damascus, a maze of narrow alleyways and historic buildings, is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a living, breathing museum where you can stroll through history, touch ancient walls, and feel the heartbeat of an ancient metropolis.

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Here’s All That The City Has In Store

oldest city in the world
Photo Credits: Canva

Damascus offers a plethora of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some things to do in this ancient and vibrant city:

  • Wander through the narrow, winding streets of the city, marvel at the historic architecture, and visit local markets.
  • Discover the grandeur of the Umayyad Mosque, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture. Explore its stunning courtyard, intricate mosaics, and the shrine of John the Baptist.
  • Explore the Azm Palace, a beautifully restored Ottoman-era palace that now serves as a museum. Admire its elegant architecture and learn about the history of the city and its rulers.

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  • Take a leisurely walk along “Straight Street” (Sharia al-Medhat Pasha), a historic lane mentioned in the Bible. It’s lined with shops, cafes, and a vibrant atmosphere.
  • Savour the flavours of Syrian cuisine in the city’s traditional restaurants and cafes. Don’t miss out on trying dishes like shawarma, falafel, and baklava.
  • Dive into the bustling souks of Damascus, where you can shop for spices, textiles, jewellery, and handicrafts. 
  • Experience the traditional Syrian bathhouse, known as a hammam. It’s a relaxing and culturally immersive experience where you can enjoy a steam bath, massage, and traditional rituals.

Despite the challenges it has faced, Damascus remains a city brimming with history, culture, and resilience.

Cover Image Courtesy: Canva