While many of the world’s oldest cities, settled around the Fertile Crescent in the Middle East, are off-limits to travellers at present, Europe’s most ancient settlements are very much open to visitors.
4. Chania, Crete
When did the earliest inhabitants settle? 4,000 BC
Excavations of the ancient city of Kydonia are taking place on Kastelli hill above the harbour at Chania on Crete.
The ruins are thought to date from the Minoan period (2,100-1,100BC) and Kydonia probably came into its own around then, but traces of inhabitation at the site date back to the Neolithic period.
Homer said that the city was one of the most important of the time, and frescoes, pottery and coins have all been unearthed on the site, which is open to view today.
It is thought that the Saracens destroyed Kyronia in around 828, and the Venetians later built on it the settlement that would become modern-day Chania.
The city is arguably Crete’s most attractive, with its walls, beaches, museums, boats and all important tavernas creating an amiable atmosphere.