You are currently viewing Let’s Explore Europe’s Oldest Cities
It is no wonder that millions of history-minded tourists flock to Europe each year since the continent is home to some of the Globe’s most significant historical landmarks. Some of Europe’s oldest towns stretch back to as early as 20,000 B.C. and are still thriving today. Here are the oldest cities in Europe; some you may be acquainted with, others you may be surprised by, and some you may not even know to exist.

1. Argos, Greece - 5 000 B.C.

Argos, Greece

The city’s lengthy life is likely because it has maintained its neutrality. It never took a side in a conflict between other major polises in Greece. It didn’t even take part in the Greco-Persian Wars. Remains of Mycenaean tombs and theatre, the Larissa Castle (one of the oldest in Europe), the old town hall, and hundreds of other historic structures are among the town’s most popular attractions today.

2. Athens, Greece - 5 000 B.C.

Athens, Greece
Athens is the second oldest town in Europe, with its earliest history reaching the middle of the third millennium B.C. The first Athens villages were established 2,000 years earlier. Evidence of organized human existence may be found as far back as 11,000 BC. The Acropolis rock was the site of the first permanent human settlement in what would become the center of Greek civilization. Athens, after the Greek goddess of wisdom, was the inspiration for the name of the city that King Theseus established.

3. Plovdiv, Bulgaria - 4000 B.C.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv’s age has been the subject of significant debate. Many Bulgarians claim that Plovdiv, their country’s second-largest city, has the most extended history of any European city at around 8,000 years. Plovdiv has been continually inhabited since at least 4,000 BC. However, several civilizations have left their mark on the city, and there have been intervals. Plovdiv was established by ancient Thracians in the Iron Age on the Nebet Tepe hills.

4. Larisa, Greece - 4000 B.C.


In the Greek province of Thessaly, Larisa is one of the oldest continuously inhabited towns in Europe and a significant historical center in the country. According to official records, Larisa’s land has been inhabited continuously for at least 6,000 years; nevertheless, historical sources indicate traces of organized life as early as the 6th millennium B.C., which, if genuine, would make Larisa even older than Athens.

Legend has it that Hippocrates, the “father of medicine,” spent his last days at Larisa, the city where Achilles was born. Larisa is a must-see for all history buffs visiting Greece since it is the fifth biggest city, an important cultural and economic center, and many of its old structures and sites have been preserved.

5. Genoa, Italy - 4000 B.C.

Genoa, Italy

While Rome may be the most well-known Italian city, you’ll see it’s not the oldest on this list. Genoa, Italy, is the oldest continuously inhabited city in all of Italy. According to some historians, the first evidence of human habitation in the region now known as Genoa dates back to the fifth millennium B.C. The ancient Ligures settled in the area and established the city’s namesake and original borders.

Genoa was a key commerce center and cultural center throughout its entire history. In the 11th century, the city served as the center of the Republic of Genoa in the Middle Ages. By the 17th century, it was considered one of the most progressive urban centers in the Western Hemisphere. Genoa remains a significant Italian economic hub and one of Europe’s most attractive and strategically located ports today.

6. Chania, Greece - 1700 B.C.

Chania, Crete, Greece
Chania, Crete, is one of the oldest towns in Europe, with its first inhabitants arriving about the year 1,700 BC. During the Minoan period, the city was established as a city-state for many years. Around 1,100 B.C., a group of Greeks from the Dorian peninsula settled there. Subsequently, the city was occupied by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Venetians, and the Ottomans. All of this contributed to the city’s distinctive look, befitting a city that served as a meeting place for many different cultures throughout the years. One of the most important cultural, commercial, and economic centers on the island of Crete, modern-day Chania is a stunning seaside town with a population of 110,000.

7. Thebes, Greece - 1500 B.C.

Thebes, Greece

Thebes, along with Athens and Sparta, was among the most influential Greek cities. The area where the city now stands was formerly part of a low ridge that separated the adjacent lowlands. Thebes, the capital of ancient Boeotia, was a formidable adversary of Athens. Thebes, as shown by archaeological digs, was an early Mycenaean town and a significant center of population and commerce throughout the Bronze Age.

The glories of ancient Thebes seem to be a thing of the past at this point. The population of Thebes is just about 20,000, and much of the city’s old structures have been destroyed over the years, but there are still some worthwhile museums and sights to see.

8. Larnaca, Cyprus - 1,300 B.C.

Larnaca, Cyprus

In the 13th century B.C., the Mycenaeans established Larnaca, a coastal city in southern Cyprus. Kition, city-kingdom, was the name of the city during the time. Around 1000 B.C., the island of Kition was colonized by a group of people from the Achaean and Phoenician civilizations. The city has been a part of several empires, including Assyria and Egypt.

The city of Larnaca was re-established and enlarged by the Phoenicians. They were followed by the Byzantines a few hundred years later. Larnaca is one of the oldest towns in Europe, even though a devastating earthquake in 322 and another in 344 devastated most of the city and left few historic sites standing.

9. Lisbon, Portugual - 1200 B.C.

Lisbon, Portugal
Some 400 years before Rome was founded, Lisbon was already flourishing. Around 1,200 BC, the Phoenicians established the city of Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Ulissipo was an early village overrun by the Greeks and Carthaginians, who ultimately lost it to the Romans. In the years that followed, the city fell under the rule of several Germanic tribes, the Suebi Kingdom and the Moorish Kingdom.

10. Padua, Italy

Padua, Italy
Padua, in Northern Italy, is a hidden treasure that few visitors ever get to see. Even fewer realize that it was established before Rome. After Troy fell in 1183 BC, its lord Antenor created the city. By the fifth century B.C., Padua had grown to include all the land between it and the banks of the Brenta River, making it one of the most essential Veneti settlements.

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