When looking for your next holiday destination, discovering something new can always be exciting. Discover some of the oldest places on earth in this guide.
The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt
The Pyramids of Giza, found in Egypt, are the last remaining Wonder of the Ancient World. Erected during the ‘Golden Age’ of the 4th Dynasty, the impressive, geometrical structures were constructed between 2550 and 2490 BC upon request from the Pharaohs.
Jutting into the sky above, the Pharaohs required the pyramids to be built in order to make their transition into the afterlife easier. The Egyptians believed that body preservation could lead to eternal life and that collecting items such as jewellery could help establish their position as rulers, even after death.
Despite 130 other pyramids scattered across ancient Egypt, Cheops, Chephren and Mycerinus have the most historical significance. The largest of the three, the Great Pyramid, is built from 2 million blocks and although it is unknown precisely how these structures were built, it is estimated that 100,000 men would’ve been required to complete these towering landmarks.
Beside the River Jordan in West Bank, Palestine is the town of Jericho. First noted in the Book of Joshua in the bible, the town has religious importance as well as being widely accepted as the oldest constantly-inhabited town in the world.
The Old Testament recalls the tale of how two Israeli spies snuck into the walls of Jericho, seeking refuge at the home of a local prostitute called Rahab. Whilst hiding in her home, they promised to protect Rahab from the upcoming siege of the town as long as she promised to protect them. Soon after, the Israelites spent six consecutive days marching around Jericho’s walls before spending the seventh day shouting, causing the walls to fall. Once inside, the town was set alight, with fire causing mass destruction to the buildings within the walls.
Excavations of Jericho took place throughout the 1900’s; however, the most important findings at this site took place in the 1950s. During this excavation, archaeologists discovered the fortified walls, as well as highlighted areas that had perished from a fire.
Lisbon is an incredible travel destination boasting culture, community and colour, as well as plenty of history and intrigue to keep you fascinated. Throughout its early years, it was occupied by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Carthaginians and the Romans, make this a diverse capital.
Under the reign of the Phoenicians, the city started as a trading post under the name Olisipo, which translated means ‘delightful little port’. In 105BC, the Romans took over control of Lisbon, with Julius Caesar making it a municipium.
2,000 temples line the streets of Varanasi, the spiritual capital of Italy. One of the seven holy cities of the Hindus, this vibrant location settled on the banks of the River Ganges, this is one of the oldest continually inhabited places you can visit.
A place to honour the dead, many Hindus travel here each year to die as it is said that the cycle of rebirth ends here. Although many are cremated, with their ashes added to the river, those that die and are considered amongst the holier are placed into the river with a rock.
Binny, an award-winning food and travel writer from the blog Binny’s Food and Travel has visited Varanasi. We asked her if she thought a trip to Varanasi was worthwhile: “Yes definitely, it is better experienced in person as it has so many things to see, hear and smell - an assault on all your senses. The vibe, the atmosphere and the essence of it can only be truly experienced when there.
“It was also eye-opening seeing the funerals and the celebration of death at the river, as well as other locals washing in the river as they consider it holy. It was amazing - we did a boat ride on the Ganges and witnessed the evening Aarti Ceremony and just being there for it was phenomenal!”
Europe has a plethora of countries to explore whilst on a European River Cruise, however, Athens arguably has the most interesting past, with thousands of years waiting for you to uncover. According to Greek mythology, King Cecrops wanted to name the city after him, but the Gods disagreed, believing that it should be given an immortal name. Therefore, a competition was held between the gods on the Acropolis, with the residents and King Cecrops deciding who was worthier of becoming the patron of the city. Athena won the contest and thus the city was named after her.
Today, Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world, with 5,000 years of inhabitants. There is also plenty to see and do; from viewing the towering Parthenon, the most famous of the Greek temples, to wandering around the Ancient Cemetery of Kerameikos, you can marvel at the incredible architecture that has stood the test of time.
Beth from the blog La Blog Beaute has visited Athens before, and she shared this about her experience: “I loved Athens - Greece as a county is one of my all-time favourite destinations. The culture and the heritage always amazes me; I am a major fan of Greek mythology, so a trip to Athens was really incredible.
I would definitely say a visit to this spectacular city is worthwhile - there's so much to see and do here. The experience was fantastic - it was hard to choose what to see and what to skip. I wish that I had realised how long each attraction would take to see, and perhaps planned my itinerary for the trip better, in order to squeeze more in."
Burrup Peninsula, Australia
The Dampier Archipelago in Murujuga National Park is home to what is thought to be the oldest collection of rock carvings in the world. The impressive petroglyphs have great historical significance as they document the history of the Aboriginals who have resided in Australia for more than 50,000 years, with these petroglyphs estimated to be around 40,000 years old.
An example of a megalith, much like Stonehenge, this collection of arranged stones were thought to have been placed on the peninsula by the Yaburara people, a collective who lived in the archipelago until their massacre during the 19th century. It is estimated that there is between 300,000-1,000,000 images at the Dampier Rock Art Precinct describing 40,000 years of history.
Göbekli Tepe, Turkey
Despite only being discovered in 1994, the historical significance of Göbekli Tepe in Turkey challenges historians perceptions of pre-civilisation. Widely believed to have been constructed over 12,000 years ago, predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, the Neolithic archaeological ruins are estimated to have been built around the end of the last Ice Age.
The site was falsely acknowledged as an ancient burial ground in the 1960s. However, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt decided to revaluate this in 1994. The relic in Turkey includes the towering, carved stones that have been fantastically preserved thanks to backfilling of the site, compressing the earth around each pillar in order to prevent damage. The tallest of the ruins stands 16-foot-tall, with an approximate weight of between 7 and 10 tonnes and although many of the pillars are plain, some are elaborately decorated with carvings of animals such as lions, foxes and vultures.