Damascus, seen here in 1911, was first settled in the third millennium B.C. and today is the political capital of the Syrian Arab Republic.
Today, Eridu resembles a handful of bare mounds rising above the desert of southern Iraq, but some 7,000 years ago it was what many scholars consider the world’s first city—a Mesopotamian political and religious center for hundreds of generations of urban dwellers until its final abandonment around 600 B.C.
The world’s first city may no longer be a bustling place, but there are many other early urban centers that still thrive in modern times, whether due to geographical location, rich resources, or simply sheer historical luck. Take a look at some of our oldest cities on each continent.