Europe

The 4 oldest cities in Europe

The oldest cities in Europe stand out among the others for their historical past. They all have something that makes them mysterious, that gives them a rich historical-cultural heritage and that fills their popular ideology with legends, traditions and rich gastronomy.

It is really impressive to be able to visit them and appreciate their monuments built more than 2000 years ago, savor the day-to-day life and discover all their secrets. But do you know which are the oldest cities in Europe? We invite you to review some of them.

Cadiz, the oldest city in the West

This city, located in the south of Spain, was founded during the Phoenician era, that is, about 3000 years ago. Originally, it was called Gadir and, although this information needs to be verified, many historians maintain that it is the oldest city in the Western world.

During its Phoenician stage, the city assumed a commercial role thanks to its port, as well as its strategic location as a connection between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. During medieval times, the Cádiz area would be the gateway for the Muslim conquest that began in the year 711. This is how the city of Cadiz was renamed Qadis during Muslim rule.

 

It was Alfonso X El Sabio who conquered the city in the 13th century and repopulated Cádiz with people from Cantabria.

Thanks to the discovery of America, Cádiz and other cities in the bay were consolidated as commercial ports. In fact, this city would achieve the privilege of commercial monopoly with the Americas.

However, with the extension of this privilege to other ports to trade with the Indies, Cadiz began its decline until 1790, the year in which trade with the Indies was suppressed.

In addition, one of the most important historical events in the history of Spain took place in this beautiful city: the promulgation of “la Pepa”the Constitution of 1812, the first that the country and Latin America had.

Matera, another of the oldest cities in Europe

Matera is a city located in southern Italy and which has around 60,000 inhabitants, many of whom live in its historic Sassi caves. Due to their architecture and what these caves represent historically and culturally for the history of humanity, they were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

Much of the city is carved out of rock, giving Matera a glimpse of a city from another era. Some of Matera’s caves date back more than 9,000 years and have been inhabited until the first half of the last century. At that time, the population that inhabited the caves carved into the rock was forced to abandon their homes to relocate in modern neighborhoods.

Currently, Matera has become one of the favorite destinations for visitors, because of its amazing places. All despite the fact that until very recently the state of conservation of the city of Matera was practically in ruins. However, the city has managed to resurface, and was the European Capital of Culture in 2019.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

This city is one of the most interesting to visit in Bulgaria. The history of this town dates back to ancient times, when Plovdiv was the capital of the Thracian kingdom.. This was just the beginning, as through the centuries the city has been occupied by Macedonians, Romans and Ottomans.

Plovdiv was founded by the Thracians 6,000 years ago, when this important civilization with Greek roots settled on the shores of the Black Sea. In the 4th century BC Philip of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, conquered it and joined it to his growing empire..

Already in the 1st century, Plovdiv suffered another conquest, but this time it would be the Romans who took the city square. As a sign of the Roman conquest, we can still appreciate one of the most important monuments of Plovdiv, the theater of Roman times.

This theater is built in marble and its importance lies, in addition to its aesthetics, in that it is one of the best preserved in the world. The stands were designed to hold more than 7,000 spectators.

As a sign of the transition to the Middle Ages, we are left with its narrow cobbled streets that will transport us to another era. During the Renaissance, the city came alive again and important houses and mansions were built, mainly for merchants and bourgeois.

In addition, we can appreciate the Dzhumaya Mosque, one of the best examples of Ottoman architecture and a sign of Turkish domination in Bulgaria. Finally, Plovdiv houses the Mound of Solidarity, a monument erected in the seventies of the last century; it is a commemorative memorial for the liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule.

Kutaisi, another of the oldest cities in Europe

Without a doubt, Kutaisi is one of the most important cities in Georgia, as it has a long and remarkable history through the centuries. The first settlements that were discovered date back to 4000 years ago. Greeks, Romans, Mongols and Ottomans, among others, have lived here and it is believed that it was the capital of the kingdom and the residence of Aeetes of Quatea.

It should be noted that Aeetes of Quatea is the mythical king who appears in the story of Jason and the Argonauts, which hid the golden fleece. The theory that is handled is the one that suggests that Jason and the Argonauts arrived in Kutaisi after going up the Rioni with their ship Argus.

During the Middle Ages, Kutaisi would be the capital of Georgia until the year 1122, the year in which Tbilisi was conquered, taken from the Muslims. Currently, it preserves all that amalgamation of history and culture that only an ancient city can possess.

In short, if you are a lover of history and the roots of cities and communities, the alternatives that we list cannot be left out of your itinerary. Many of them still have a lot to discover!

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