European cities have some of the oldest monuments in the world as well as the most beautiful infrastructure of their time. This is precisely one of the reasons why some of the cities from this list are among the top tourist destinations in Europe. If you are eager to find out which are the oldest cities in Europe, get ready for this history lesson.
Based on archaeological findings, Plovdiv holds the record for being the oldest city in Europe, having been founded around 6000 BCE. Plovdiv’s Nebet Tepe, one of the hills, is a crucial landmark from that time and has been inhabited ever since. The Thracians expanded the city surrounding Nebet Tepe and reinforced it in ancient times. The kingdom was later called Evmolpia after King Evmolp, who ruled around 1200 BCE. Evmolpia was conquered by Phillip II, father of Alexander the Great, around 342 BCE and renamed it Philippopolis. As a result of rebuilding the city, Philipp II expanded and fortified it and made it the most important city at the time, known as Thanes. In addition to being naturally fortified, Plovdiv grew due to an increase in trade and its advantageous military position.
In Europe, Athens has a history dating back to about 3400 BC, making it the second oldest city. However, some human presence is thought to date back even as far as the 11th and 7th centuries BC. In ancient times, the Acropolis was the site of the first settlement. Theseus formed it after joining several settlements in Attica to form a state. Greece’s capital city Athens takes its name from Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom. Athenian and Poseidonian competed for the honor of patronage. Poseidon struck the earth with his trident and a spring of seawater arose, and Athena grew an olive tree which symbolizes prosperity and peace. During the rule of Cecrops, the Athenians chose Athena to protect them. During the successive centuries, the city expanded exponentially, mostly from trade and shipping.
A Phoenician tribe established Lisbon around 1200 BCE after the Celts settled in the area. Their settlement was called Ulissipo, and it was later conquered by the Greeks and the Carthaginians. After winning the Second Panic War in 205 BCE, the Carthaginians lost the city to the Romans, who named it Olissipo. It became part of Lusitania, a province of the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the area was attacked by Germanic tribes and ruled by the Suebi Kingdom until 585. During the Arab Arab invasion of 711 AD, Lisbon formed part of the larger peninsula but became part of Alfonso II’s domain in 789 AD. In Alfonso III’s reign, Portugal’s maritime expansion led to Lisbon’s growth.