The Oldest Capital Cities in Asia

Bab Tuma is one of seven gates in the Old City of Damascus, Syria.
Bab Tuma is one of seven gates in the Old City of Damascus, Syria.

Some capital cities have been continuously inhabited for thousands of years, and accordingly show the negative and positive influences of human civilization. These ancient cities boast beautiful historical architecture and fascinating histories. Asia is home to many of the most influential archaic cities in the world. Some of the oldest capital cities in Asia are listed below.

The 7 Oldest Cities in Asia


Damascus, the capital of Syria, is the second largest city in the country with a population of over 1,711,000 in 2009. Damascus is located in southwestern Syria, and from 661 to 750 BC it was selected as the capital city of Umayyad-Caliphate. No large-scale settlement was detected within the city until the second millennium BC. Damascus became the Arab cultural capital in 2008.


Beirut is the largest and capital city of Lebanon, with a population of over one million. Beirut was founded in 3000 BCE, and in fact the first settlers arrived there over 5,000 years ago. The city adopted its name in 1934, and even though Diodotus Tryphon destroyed Beirut in 140 BC, it was later rebuilt on a more conventional Hellenistic plan. The current city overlies an ancient city. Situated in the peninsula at the center of the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon, Beirut is one of the New7Wonders Cities.


Located in the Judaean Mountains, right between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean, Jerusalem is the capital city of both Palestine and Israel. Jerusalem is one of the most visited cities in Asia and is considered holy by the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian faiths. King David conquered and established Jerusalem as the capital city of the United Kingdom of Israel. Jerusalem was founded around 2800 BCE, but in 2016 archaeologists discovered a 7,000-year old settlement which they suspect was developed during the early Chalcolithic period.


Beijing is the capital of China and the world's second most populous city. Beijing is one of the oldest cities in Asia, and its history dates back to over 3 millennia. As the only remaining city of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China, Beijing has been a political center for over eight centuries. Beijing was founded in approximately 1600 BCE, and as of March 2016, the city had a population of more than 21.5 million.


Located along the River Hrazdan, Yerevan is the largest city and capital of Armenia, as well as the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world. In 1918 Yerevan became the 13th city to become the official capital of Armenia. This city was founded around 782BC by King Argishti I of Urartu.


Seoul is the capital and largest metropolitan city of the Republic of Korea. Located on the River Han, Seoul is the fourth most economically dominant city in the world. The history of Seoul dates back to approximately 2,000 years, when it was founded by the Baekje people in 18 BC. Seoul became the capital of Korea under Joseon Dynasty.


With a population of over 7.7 million, Hanoi is the capital and second largest city in Vietnam by population. Hanoi was founded in 454 AD, and between 1010 and 1802, the city served as the country's crucial political center, but only became the capital of Vietnam on January 6, 1946. Hanoi was the capital of North Vietnam from 1954 until 1976, but the country was unified in 1976 after winning the Vietnam War.

Common Features of the Oldest Cities in the World

Some of the cities described above were developed over 11,000 years ago and feature some of the best historic architecture in the world. Cities such as Jerusalem are among the most highly visited cities in the world, whether for religious purposes or general tourism. Given their strategic position, most of these cities were selected as capital during ancient times and have retained the title to date.

The Oldest Capital Cities in Asia

Rank´╗┐CityCountryYear Founded
1Damascus SyriaChalcolithic 3rd millennium BCE
2BeirutLebanon3000 BCE
3JerusalemPalestine/Israel2800 BCE
4BeijingChina1600 BCE
5YerevanArmenia782 BCE
6SeoulSouth Korea18 BCE
7HanoiVietnam454 AD
8Bandar Seri BegawanBrunei977 AD
9YangonMyanmar1043 AD
10SingaporeSingapore1170 AD
11Phnom PenhCambodia1372 AD
12JakartaIndonesia1527 AD
13BangkokThailand1688 AD

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