What do we learn from the history of civilizations? Different settlements scattered across the world with varied cultural diversity fighting for pieces of land. As humans, we have evolved on this planet to adapt to habitations around different corners of the world. Cultural diversity is the result of the same. 

Talking of different corners of the world, we encounter newer context, newer climatic conditions, and different soil types. Giving birth to settlements that develop asynchronously with other settlements. These Settlements are the architectural treasures for the modern world. We can visualize the evolution of infrastructure with wide-ranging features within these “Ancient cities”. 

Here are 15 ancient cities that you must know about:

1. Tiruvannamalai, India

Starting down from the land of temples and shrines, located in southern India. Tiruvannamalai, a small temple in Tamil Nadu stands erect with monolithic temples and hills. The rich Indian culture found here dates back to 800 AD. Arunachala hill in the premises of the town claimed to be 3.5 million years old is one of the famous pilgrimage places in Hinduism. 

Inscriptions on the walls of the temple on the hill date back to the 7th century. The tall standing temples with the decorative “Gopurams” are one of the tourist attractions. South Indian architecture can be seen emerging amidst the ruined architecture of the Pallava and Cholas era.

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Tiruvannamalai@oneday.travel

2. Kyoto, Japan

When it comes to imagining an older street in Japan, we do visualize the sloping roofs, Use of bamboo and Bonsai, and well-trimmed landscape. Kyoto city in Japan is the replica of our imagination. Originally founded in 794, the city is said to be the Heart of Japan. 

Despite Tokyo being declared as the country’s capital. The city is also the center of Japanese culture and Buddhism. Many temples and Gardens from Kyoto are collectively added to the UNESCO World Heritage sites.

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Kyoto Japan @ GaijinPot Travel

3. Hanoi, Vietnam

Inhabited since 454 AD, Hanoi reflects old Vietnamese architecture mixed with French Influence. The old quarters of the city house the traditional structures called the “36 streets”. The Architecture found within the region consists of multi-cultural communities like French, Chinese, and Russian influences. 

The living units within the quarters are vertically developed with a rectangular base. Older housing units are made up of smaller rooms and thatched roofs or tiles. The lower floor, generally used as a store, would keep the streets busy and occupied.

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Hanoi @ Destguides

4. Constantine, Algeria

Built over a Rocky plateau 650m above sea level, Constantine is the third-largest city in Algeria. The Ancient settlement is also known as the “City of Bridges” With a unique geography, the city is situated 100km from the country coast, the journey to the settlement passes through mesmerizing landscapes of mountains, forests, and large lakes. 

The stone used for the building bears the markings of French and Roman-style architecture. The remarkable beauty of the city is credited to the gorge and the river that has carved out the plateau.

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Constantine @ Archdaily

5. Varanasi, India

A city in India, known to be established by the Hindu God – Shiva. Settled on a Riverfront, life in Varanasi revolves around Religious and cultural activities. A day in Varanasi starts and ends with religious activities along the ghats. Varanasi has great tourism, particularly for meditative and spiritual learning. 

The architecture found here is a blend of Mughal, Colonial, and Hindu Art forms.

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Varanasi @ Britannica

6. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

The second-largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv stands as Europe’s oldest city. Throughout history, Plovdiv has been conquered by many people including Greek and Romans. The ruins across the ancient city reflect the mixed architectural trail left behind by the conquering dynasties. 

Some of the highlights include the Ancient Stadium of Philippopolis, the Roman Amphitheatre, and the structures of Eumolpias.

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Plovdiv @ Wikimedia Commons

7. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu has beautiful scenarios of mountains, valleys, forests, and snowy mountains that cut through the clouds. The ruins of Machu Picchu are located on a granite mountain. The most impressive structures include the semicircular sun temple, the temple of the three windows, the mausoleum, and the upper cemetery. 

The agricultural part of Machu Picchu, with its terraces and barns, is also an important aspect of the site, demonstrating the advanced farming methods of the Incas.

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Machu Picchu @ Travel daily

8. Hampi, India

The stone-covered landscape with temples and complexes scattered over a large area is a mesmerizing view to see. The Hindu legend – Ramayana mentions the place as “kishkind” or the “The realm of the monkey gods”. 

The Temple complexes found here are an architectural treasure to study the intriguing details and craftsmanship of the past. Shiv temples can be found at every corner of the streets and also on the hills. The Famous Stone chariot temple is the highlighting structure of the city.

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Hampi @ Pintrest

9. Lagunita, Yucatan

Settled within the forests and hidden with the greens, Lagunita is an ancient Mayan city. This is the first developed civilization in the Mesoamerican region after the Pre-classical period. The Mayans developed their architectural strata with tall pyramid-like temples with stone.

The Maya constructed pyramids, temples, palaces, walls, houses, and more. They frequently embellished their homes with complicated stone carvings, stucco statues, and paint.

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Lagunita @ Deccan Herald

10.Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii is an old preserved Italian city; a volcanic eruption in AD 79 brought the destruction of Pompeii. The city was buried under a blanket of ashes and rubble until 1700. When the ruins were excavated, archaeologists were surprised to find large public buildings, luxury mansions, and all types of houses. 

It is in these houses that the surviving remains of the people who sought refuge from the outbreak were found. The remains of the city give an impression of daily life. Citizens’ lives are preserved today as a legacy here.

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Pompeii @ Learnodo Newtonic

11. Petra, Jordan

Also known as the Lost City of the Rose City, the prehistoric city of Petra is an unimaginable settlement one must see to believe. The thriving trade center was established in the 4th century BCE. The city is carved into the red sandstone cliffs making it add to the 7 wonders list. The ancient city is located in the desert canyon of south-western Jordan and is stretched over for 102 square miles. 

Archeologists have only surfaced 15 percent of the site and a larger portion of the city remains a mystery hidden deep inside the mountains.

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Petra @ Pixabay

12. Mesa Verde, Colorado

The Pueblo people residing in the southwest American region constructed entire settlements on the Cliffside of the rocky mountains. Mesa Verde translates to “Green table” in Spanish. The people without even developing a writing system left behind important archeological remains that depicted sophisticated mathematical lessons, such as the golden ratio. 

People living here were exposed to harsh climatic conditions yet developed a way of survival with the architecture of the dwellings constructed.

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Mesa Verde dwellings @ Live science

13. Angkor, Cambodia

Angkor meaning “City” or “Capital city”, is an ancient city built in northwestern Cambodia. It was the capital of the Cambodian empire from the 9th to 15th century. From the religious movement of the Hindu cult of the god Shiva to the Mahayana Buddhist cult, the city had different architectural styles and artistic monuments. Religion and political conceptions imported from India formed the basis for the city’s planning and construction.

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Angkor @ Britannica

14. Sidon, Lebanon

Sidon is an ancient port city, 25 miles from Beirut. Inhabited as early as 4000 BCE. Sidon was the first city to manufacture purple dye and glassware which were expensive materials at the time. The two main cultural influences on the city were the Egyptians and the Greeks. The castle of Sidon is one of the famous tourist attractions as a part of the complex.

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Sidon @ The Independent.

15. Faiyum, Egypt

Faiyum was an ancient region of the Egyptian civilization known for its fertility and abundance of plants and animals amidst the deserted life. Also referred to as the Faiyum oasis. Faiyum was believed to be an arid desert basin, which became a lush oasis when a branch of the Nile split up and diverted water to the region. It is claimed to be a prospering habitation during 5000 BCE with a comfortable living with an abundance of food and water.

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Faiyum @ The Times of India

References

10 of the Oldest Cities in the World

https://www.usnews.com/news/cities/slideshows/10-of-the-oldest-cities-in-the-world?slide=9

https://www.archdaily.com/869995/the-architecture-of-some-of-the-worlds-oldest-continuously-inhabited-cities

https://www.historyhit.com/guides/the-most-amazing-ancient-cities-in-the-world/

Author

An accidental Architecture Student from Pune, India. Saish Dhimate has discovered his passion by finding the midway between Engineering and Architecture. He loves to Understand Human Psychology about designing spaces and breaking stereotypes of planning.

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