Do you love a slice of ancient culture? Are you an enthusiastic history-buff? If so, this is the blog for you! We have taken a look at some of the world’s oldest cities and ports, available to visit on a cruise, so you know where to go for your next historic fix. From the ancient ruins of the Mediterranean to the world-famous monuments of Egypt, read on to learn more about a number of cities that have stood the test of time, with histories spanning millennia.
The ancient Greek history of Athens is famous throughout the world and the tales of the Greek Gods are amongst some of the most well-known early myths and legends. The first inhabitants of Athens, however, have been traced to the Cave of Schist and dated back to between the 11th and 7th century BC, which suggests that the city has been occupied by humans for at 7000 years.
The Greek Classical Age, from the 5th to 4th century BC, is the most famous era of Athenian history and shaped the foundation of western civilisation, introducing new ideas including literature, philosophy, politics and architecture as well as artistic and scientific thought. A number of ancient landmarks from this illustrious time period still stand strong in Athens today, drawing masses of fascinated tourists from all over the world. Structures including the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Ancient Agora are all essential viewing during a stay in the historic city of Athens.
China’s bustling and modern capital city of Beijing has was one the longest histories of any city on Earth. The earliest evidence of human inhabitation was found in the caves of Dragon Bone Hill, in the form of Homoerectus fossisl dating back between 230,000 and 250,000 years, as well as more recent Homosapien fossils of people who lived around 27,000 years ago. Beijing’s lengthy and intriguing history spans several ages and dynasties, from the first Emperor and the Three Kingdoms period, through the Ming and Qing dynasties up to the present day.
Nowadays, Beijing contains a collection of well-preserved landmarks and ancient monuments, charting the region’s intriguing history. One of the most important historic sites is the remarkable Forbidden City, home to the imperial court during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Other sites of historical significance worth visiting across Beijing include Tiananmen Square in the Dongcheng district and the remains of the medieval city, such as the Ming Dynasty City Wall, the Drum and Bell Towers and Qianmen in the Chongwen district.
The founding of the city of Rome is surrounded in myth and legend. The story goes that orphaned, infant twins, Romulus and Remus, were raised and suckled by a she-wolf. Once fully grown, the twins decided to build a city, but after an argument in which Remus mocked Romulus’ city wall, Romulus killed Remus and named the city Roma, after himself. Although this is a popular legend, scientific evidence suggests that Rome has been inhabited by people for approximately 14,000 years, as ancient stone tools, weapons and pottery have been discovered in the area.
The Classic Roman era is certainly the city most famous time-period in Italian history and the legacy of famous Roman Emperors, such as Caesar, Nero and Caligula, echo through the ages. Modern Rome boasts an array of ancient architecture and magnificent historic structures, showcasing its renowned heritage and culture. From the well-preserved and colossal Colosseum to the ancient and impressive Pantheon, Rome is brimming with testaments to its illustrious past.
The grandiose city of Istanbul has changed hands numerous times over the centuries, but the earliest evidence indicates that the region was first occupied as early as the 7th millennium BC. The first known name of the city was Byzantium, during the Byzantine era, before being renamed Constantinople after the invasion of the Roman Empire. The city then changed hands between the Ottoman and Turkish empires, eventually acquiring its current name of Istanbul. The city’s incredible history can be charted back for millennia, a fact which can still be seen in the region to this day.
A wealth of historic landmarks and ancient temples from the Byzantine, Ottoman and Turkish Empires still stand in Istanbul, attracting throngs of intrigued history enthusiasts. Many of these monuments can be found around Sultanahmet Square, including Topkapi Palace, Sultanahmet Mosque, Hagia Sophia and the Basilica Cistern, whilst others are situated within Istanbul’s beautiful and ancient old town, creating a unique and fascinating environment, oozing culture and intrigue.
Founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC, only a handful of cities across the world boast a history as rich and fascinating as Alexandria on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast. The city has played host to a profusion of ancient sieges and battles, including Caeser’s civil war, the final war of the Roman Republic, the Byzantine-Persian wars and was even the site of battles during the French Revolutionary wars of the early 19th century.
One of the Alexandria’s most iconic and ancient landmarks is its historic lighthouse – sometimes referred to as the Pharos of Alexandria – constructed between 280 and 247 BC on the orders of Ptolemy the First, shortly after the death of Alexander the Great. Despite damage caused by earthquakes over the centuries, the lighthouse remains well-preserved and was named as one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Other notable historic monuments across Alexandria include the Citadel of Qaitbay, Pompey’s Pillar and the Roman Theatre.