Ancient history – There are numerous ancient cities in today’s Slavic territories. Even though the Slavic tribes at times started populating the areas of today’s Slavic cities at a later date, it is important to mention some of the oldest, continuously inhabited cities with rich history in the present-day Slavic lands that managed to survive and support a variety of diverse cultures.
1. Kalisz, Kraków – Poland
First mentioned in 2nd century A.D. by Greek geographer Claudius Ptolemeus, Kalisz is the oldest city in Poland. The traces of continuous habitation in a place of today’s Kalisz actually reach 8000 B.C. The Polish ex-capital, Kraków, was first mentioned in 965 AD, when it was described as a notable commercial centre.
2. Stobi, Ohrid – Macedonia
Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia and later turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris (now near Gradsko in the Republic of Macedonia). Stobi was founded in the Archaic period (800 BC – 500 BC). Another old town of Macedonia is Ohrid, which has edifices built around 400 BC.
3. Zadar, Hvar, Vis – Croatia
The oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia is Zadar, inhabited since 900 BC, first by Liburnians then established as a Roman colony in 48 BC. Also in Zadar county, lies a town called Nin, which today’s town on an islet is one of the oldest towns on the eastern Adriatic. Old towns also worth mentioning in Croatia are Stari Grad (Croatian for “Old Town”) on the island of Hvar, founded in 384 BC and Vis (Greek name “Issa”) established in the 400 BC.
4. Plovdiv, Sozopol – Bulgaria
The oldest Slavic city is Plovdiv in Bulgaria, founded around 3000-4000 BC, while the settlement dates back to 6000 BC. Plovdiv proudly bears the title of the 8th oldest city in the world. Another ancient city in Bulgaria is Sozopol, founded in 700 BC. In addition, the oldest gold treasure in the world, dating from 4,600 BC to 4,200 BC, was discovered in the Bulgarian necropolis of Varna.
5. Ptuj – Slovenia
Ptuj is the oldest city in Slovenia. There is evidence that the area was settled in the Stone Age, while the Celts settled the area in the Late Iron Age. By the 1st century BC, the settlement was controlled by Ancient Rome as part of the Pannonian province.
6. Kerch, Kiev – Ukraine
The oldest city in Ukraine is Kerch, founded in 700 BC as an ancient Greek colony, then called Panticapaeum. Kerch is considered to be one of the most ancient cities in Crimea. Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, is also one of the ancient cities founded by East Slavs with settlements dating back to 600 AD.
7. Beograd, Niš – Serbia
Serbia’s capital, Belgrade was founded prior to 279 BC. However, there are remnants of ancient Starčevo and Vinča farming cultures on the territory of Belgrade. The cultures flourished between 6200-5200 BC and 5500-4500 BC, the Vinča culture being more famous for its mysterious symbols. Another ancient city in Serbia is Niš, founded by the Gallic Scordisci tribe around 279 BC, while the town was first mentioned in 2nd century AD.
8. Nitra, Trenčin – Slovakia
The oldest city in Slovakia is Nitra. The territory of today’s Nitra has been inhabited in all historical periods in the last 5,000-7,000 years, while the first citadel was already built around 1,600 BC by the Madarovce people. The other ancient city in Slovakia is Trenčin, which was first portrayed with the Greek name Leukaristos on the Ptolemy world map around 150 AD.
9. Prague, Plzeň – Czech Republic
One of the oldest archaeological sites in the world is in the Czech Republic: Dolní Věstonice is famous for its artifacts (especially art) dating around 27,000 to 20,000 B.C. The oldest city in the Czech Republic is Prague, having fortification built around 800 AD, while the area was settled as early as the Paleolithic age. Another old city of the Czech Republic is Plzeň, which was first mentioned as a castle in 976 AD.
10. Polotsk, Vitebsk – Belarus
The oldest Belarusian town is Polotsk. It is one of the most ancient cities of the Eastern Slavs, with its founding year being 862 AD. Another ancient town of Belarus is Vitebsk, founded by Princess Olga of Kiev in 974 AD. It’s famous today as being the place of the biggest Slavic music festival – Slavianski Bazaar.
11. Budva, Kotor – Montenegro
Montenegro’s oldest town is Budva, tracing back its origins to 500 BC. A Greek emporium was established at the site in the 400 BC. Kotor, another ancient Montenegrin town, was first mentioned in 168 BC, and was then known as Acruvium (as part of the Roman province of Dalmatia).
12. Tomislavgrad, Stolac – Bosnia and Herzegovina
The ancient Illriyan city of Delminium was founded at the place of today’s Tomislavgrad around 400 BC, while the city of Livno nearby was settled at the same time, but celebrates its founding date as 892 AD. Another ancient culture, an Illyrian tribe Daorsi lived in the city called Daorson, near today’s Stolac around 300 until 50 BC. However, vast archaeological evidence shows that the site was inhabited from 12,000 – 16,000 BC.
13. Derbent, Veliky Novgorod – Russia
Russia’s oldest city is Derbent, historically an Iranian city (the city gets its name from the Persian word Darband meaning “gateway”) with the first settlement dating back to 800 BC. Another Russian city with a lengthy history is Veliky Novgorod, which was first mentioned in the Sofia First Chronicle in 859 AD.