Yes, you probably have heard about Rome: the city of seven hills. But did you know that there are nearly 50 towns and villages of varying sizes around the world who claim the title? In this week’s photo essay, let’s explore those destinations who are worth of a visit, whether there are seven hills (more or less in most cases).
I’m not sure we can say Rome is the original city of seven hills (other cities with this claim are older) but it’s certainly the most well known. The seven hills are Aventine Hill, Caelian Hill, Capitoline Hill, Esquiline Hill, Palatine Hill (the hill which myths say is the city’s true foundation), Quirinal Hill, and Viminal Hill.
As I’ve lived there, I can definitely agree that it’s pushing it to call Edinburgh a city of seven hills, because there are named hills all around. However, the classic definition says that Arthur’s Seat (the highest point), Castle Rock (that’s the one the castle is built on – often overlooked as a hill), Calton Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, and Craiglockhard Hill are the seven. You should hike up at least a couple should you find yourself on one of my recommended Edinburgh trips.
Seattle, Washington USA
Seattle’s claim for city of seven hills is a real mess. During my Seattle sightseeing trip, it was clear there are some very steep hills, but the whole seven thing is confusing. There’s First Hill, Capitol Hill, Queen Anne Hill, and Beacon Hill which are also popular neighbourhoods to explore. There used to be a Yesler Hill (now in First Hill), Denny Hill (was razed) and Renton Hill (now Capitol Hill). But, you could say that Magnolia and Crown Hill are in, but they weren’t part of the original Seattle. But Seattle is awesome, seven hills or not.
Richmond, Virginia USA
Union Hill, Church Hill, Council Hill, Shockoe Hill, Gambles Hill, Navy Hill and Oregon Hill make up the seven hills of Richmond. If you haven’t been, you should – Richmond is the capital of Virginia and a hotspot for arts culture; they also have some yummy food.
Prague, Czech Republic
One of Europe’s prettiest capitals, Prague too is another city of seven hills contestant. Or nine. Nobody seems to agree on which one. The hills include Hradčany, Vítkov, Větrov, Skalka, Vyšehrad (where the castle is), Karlov and Petřín. the nine version includes Opyš and Emauzy. If you have the opportunity to visit Prague, be sure to do some Czech Republic sightseeing across the country – superb.
We all know of the Red Square – perhaps one of the world’s most emotionally iconic spots. But did you know that Moscow also suffers from city of seven hills syndrome? It’s complicated business here, though, as the list includes Borovitsky Hill (Kremlin Hill),the “Three Mountains” (Presnya and Vagankovo), Tver Hill (Pushkin Square), Sretensky Hill (Sukharevskaya Square), Tagansky Hill, Vvedenskiye Mountains (Lefortovo), and Vorobyovy Hills. But there’s also Krutitsy, Krasniy Hill , and Naprudniy Hill, so take your pick.
Any visitor to Paraguay’s capital city will remember the city’s iconic architecture and buildings, such as the Lopez Presidential Palace – the city is one of the oldest in South America. But don’t forget those damn seven hills – they’re everywhere these days! The hills here are gentle and so harder to spot, but a few of them include Cabará, Cerro Lambaré, Clavel, Tarumá, Cachinga, and Tacumbú.
Dunedin, New Zealand
One of the more remote seven hill cities in our list, Dunedin doesn’t have hills – they mean serious business. One hill has a slope of concrete called Baldwin street running down it, making it the steepest street in the world. These are former volcanic crags, and some of the more famous are Mount Cargill, Flagstaff Hill, Saddle Hill, Signal Hill, and Harbour Cone.
St.Michielsberg, Koudenberg, Warmoesberg, Kruidtuin, Kunstberg, Zavel and St.Pietersberg make up what they say are the seven hills of Brussels. It’s the capital of Belgium, and often overlooked for places like Ghent. Last year I went to Brussel’s defence, saying it is one of the nicest capital cities in Europe. So check it out if you can.
Istanbul looks to be cheating the city of seven hills system, because they aren’t counting peaks (there’d be more than seven) – they just count elevated areas. The hills are all located within the old walls of the city. But since Donna raved about her sightseeing in Turkey, we’ll give them benefit of the doubt.
Mecca, Saudia Arabia
The center of the Muslim world and one of it’s most important sites, Mecca in Saudia Arabia isn’t built on seven hills but in the center of them. The hills are Jabal abu Siba’ , Jabal Safa, Jabal Marwah, Jabal abu Milhah, Jabal abu Ma’aya, Jabal abu Hulayah, and Jabal abu Ghuzlan. You can explore the hills if you want, but if you are not Muslim you cannot enter the city.
Nevada City, California USA
Known more for it’s famous professional cycling race and it’s historic architecture than seven hills, Nevada City also lays claim to the seven status. I love the names of them: Piety, Lost, Prospect, Aristocracy, Boulder, Nabob, and Buckeye Hills.
There are few if any cities of seven hills in Asia, with the exception of India. Tirumala takes the cake not only for it’s foundations on seven hills but on one of those hills is the Temple of Seven Hills, Tirumala Venkateswara. This temple is claimed to be the busiest place of worship in the world, with over 100k pilgrims visiting it every day and over half a million per day during the holy festival.
Adding to the mystique of the city of seven hills phenomenon is Jerusalem. An important religious center for many sects, it too sits on seven hills, but given the messy business that is this part of the world, and considering the various changes to the landscape over centuries, it’s somewhat complicated to explain what the seven would be.
Part of the Lisbon sightseeing experience is the charming views that seem to pop up around every corner. São Jorge, São Vicente, Sant’Ana, Santo André, Chagas, Santa Catarina, São Roque and the seven hills; be sure to check out our list of the best restaurants in Lisbon, as several of them have views from each of these hills.
Bamberg is cute little town in Germany, mostly well known by tourists for it’s charming atmosphere and architecture as well as it’s beer. But it’s also a seven hills contender, including Cathedral Hill, Michaelsberg, Kaulberg/Obere Pfarre, Stefansberg, Jakobsberg, Altenburger Hill, and Abtsberg.
Last by certainly not least of our 17 cities of 7 hills is Uganda’s, Mengo, Lubaga, Namirembe, Old Kampala, Kibuli, Nakasero and Makerere. It was the hills that made this spot popular, as the surrounding area was wetlands, so the hills provided a good position for hunting. Today there are more than seven hills as the city has expanded into various areas beyond the original city.
Where in the world is your favourite ‘city of seven hills’?
Photo Credits: JoeDuck, Andrew Hayes, TaberAndrew, verbalchamelon, Sputnik Maria, alex-s, Mr ThinkTank, infomatique, rainwiz, Al Jazerra English, ilya_ktsn, the philosophy of photography, hoyasmeg, BRostad, Matthias Ripp, LeandroCiuffo