The modernized world has so much to offer, but truth be told, all these started off somewhere – and then comes the history, a story. Ever since we started school, we have been reminded of historical places, dates and people. The best way to look back into the past and understand these stories it is to go there and see these places. Touch them. Understand them. By getting familiar with them you can start to understand how wonderful our past cultures were and how they shaped our current state of affairs.
But where to go historical sightseeing? No worries: here are the ten world’s oldest countries, and must-see places to go to in each of these wonderful places
Egypt (North Sudan Included) (3150-3500 B.C)
Egypt is considered as one of the world’s oldest countries. The country is well known for its pyramids, ancient temples, pharaohs and kings. You will also be enchanted by the different mosques, mausoleums, and ancient churches – some of the things to see in Egypt that aren’t pyramids.
As for the best historic sightseeing, I recommend:
- The Pyramid of Giza, one of the oldest pyramids in Egypt
- The Step Pyramid (el Castillo)
- The Khufu Pyramid, with its very complex design
- The Valley of the Golden Mummies, a reminder that our burial practices are just as ‘weird’ as our ancestors’
India (3000 B.C)
India is the world’s seventh largest country based on land area, the second populous country, and one of the world’s oldest countries as well. It is famous today for its Bollywood Films, for colorful costumes, dances, and of course the food. This country has a rich and very distinct culture, producing such incredible and influential personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa. Did you know that Algebra, Trigonometry and Calculus originated from this country?
Some wonderful historic sightseeing stops in India:
- The Khajuraho Temple, which is one of many templates scattered throughout the area. They’re centuries old and if walls could speak…
- The Ajanta and Ellora caves are located in Maharashtra. The carvings in the caves depict a clear scene of the serenity of Buddha.
- The monuments of Hampi, a UNESCO world heritage site
Ethiopia (Eritrea included) (2500-3000 B.C)
Ethiopia is another of the world’s oldest countries, often overlooked from the historical sightseeing perspective. This quiet African nation is one of the world’s oldest independent countries, and its home to some of the world’s most unique (and almost extinct) animal species, such as the Ethiopian wolf, the mountain nyala, the Nubian ibex, and the African wild dog. As you try to figure out Ethiopia’s calendar system, based on an ancient Alexandrian calendar, visit some of these famous historical sightseeing attractions:
- The Castle in Royal Compound, which reflects back to architecture and civilizations long since perished
- The Lalibela, a poignant sight located in the heart of Ethiopia. It is considered by many as the “New Jerusalem.”
China (2000 B.C)
China is one of the largest and most populous countries in the world. It is one of the world’s oldest countries, sometimes known as the sleeping dragon. We all know the country is famous for its terra-cota warriors, for its porcelain ceramics, and and colorful Chinese opera as well as other important contributions of Chinese culture to the world, such as the invention of paper and explosive powder. Did you know one of the world’s best desserts, ice cream, has been invented in this country? And oh, the historical sightseeing abounds…
- The Great Wall is one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is known as the “long fortress,” for reasons obvious!
- The Tiananmen Square has been the site of the famous massacre of students who fought for freedom and some feel a symbol for the continued unpopular policies of the country
- The Temple of Heaven, a magnificent temple which feels like it could quite possibly reach out and touch heaven.
San Marino (301 AD)
San Marino is one of the smallest and also one of the world’s oldest countries. It is named after its founder Saint Marinus and located in the northern part of Italy. The people of San Marino, better known as Sammarinese, are known for their friendly hospitality as well as their tasty treats, such as the Piadena and the Cake of the Three Mountains. But you can also explore some great historical sightseeing, such as:
- The San Marino Historic Center where you’ll be blown away by the majestic view of Mount Titano. What was it like to stand here in 301AD?
- The Walls of San Marino are not your average border boundaries; they were build over three different eras. And don’t forget to explore the towers!
France (486 AD)
France, another one of the world’s oldest countries, is probably the most exciting tourist destination in the world. The capital is Paris, one of the most romantic cities in the world, renowned for incredible food such as crepes, french bread, soufflés, mousse and croissants. The Louvre museum is home for the prominent works of art and one of the world’s largest and most respected museums. This is the fashion capital of the world. It is the leading producers of wine and liquors. So as they say in France, “c’est la vie!” There are a lot of historic sites in France, namely:
- The megalith discovery trail in Brittany, where you can find thousands of standing stones, ancient structures and monuments to unknown gods and heros
- The Cemetery of the French Kings, in Saint-Denis, whose incredible displays of design to those who died in the French Revolution will leave you speechless
- The Cathar Castles, a series of fortresses built to protect the French King, are beautiful both for their architecture as well as the view of the countryside
Bulgaria (632 AD)
Bulgaria is a often overlooked Europe secret. Did you know about the famous “Lactobacillus Bulgaricus” which can be found only in Bulgarian air and responsible making yoghurt possible. And did you know that the inventor of the first electronic computer is from Bulgaria? Aside from the people and their inventions, this country is a well known tourist destination, being one of the world’s oldest countries. Some of the popular historical sightseeing includes:
- The Kazanuk Tomb is a must see in Bulgaria, with a façade so beautiful you’ll want to take it home with you
- The Ivanovo Rock Churches are a UNESCO Heritage Site, famous for its well preserved frescoes.
- The Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century, and such an important historical landmark it is printed on the Bulgarian banknote.
- The Nesebar (sometimes Nessebar and Nesebur) has been built from 11th to 14th centuries. On the surface, it is a pretty beach resort town, but this small peninsula has traded ownership across empires for centuries.
Japan (650 AD)
Japan, land of the rising sun, is also a part of the world’s oldest countries. This country has advanced technologies. It has a colorful tradition, such as dramatic dances and fine costumes. Japanese are known for their “manga” and “anime” characters, the geisha, sumo wrestling, and samurai which are part of their culture. They also have the art of flower arrangement called the “Ikebana”. And who doesn’t find the Japanese cuisine fascinating, such as the sushi, kaiseki, and rice cake – all to be eaten with chopsticks! Historical sightseeing at its best:
- The Shinto Itsukushima Shrine has been a sacred place for Shintoism. It has a great traditional architectural design.
- The Himeji Castle is located in Hyogo, one of the world’s finest castles (and doesn’t really even look like a castle)
- The Goryukaku Fort is the best place to watch for cherry blossoms
- The Atomic Bomb Dome is a reminder of the tragic atomic bombing.
Turkey (900 AD)
Aside from taking pride as one of the world’s oldest countries, Turkey is also known today as one of the European Capital of Culture. This country was the backdrop of countless events in history, such as the Trojan War and the landing of Noah’s Ark in Mount Ararat. The Bosphorous bridge in Istanbul connects the continents of Asia and Europe, and today a visit to the capital is a whirlwind of sights, sounds, and experiences. Some historical sightseeing suggestions:
- The Temple of Artemis is a temple dedicated to the Greek goddess Diana; it is now just ruins, but it is believed to be one of the most elaborate temples built in this area
- The Maosuleum of Halicarnassus was considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, built in 377 B.C. by the greatest artist of that time.
- The Hagia Sophia is considered one of the world’s greatest monument. It is currently used as a museum.
- The Sultanahmet Mosque or the Blue Mosque, was built by Ahmed I.
- The Ephesus is the best place to step back and imagine how life was like during the old days.
It’s ironic to think that one of the world’s oldest countries (and a contender for the top spot on the world’s oldest charts) is today embroiled in such controversy. We know the country today as Iran, but this once the land of Persia, a prosperous empire and the largest in ancient history, and one of the empires great kinds, Cyrus the Great, is still buried in a wonderful monument in the country. Other historical sightseeing backdrops:
- Persepolis, the remains of a massive, beautiful city built 2500 years ago
- Yazd, where centuries old engineering and architecture are still in use
- Qom, one of the holiest cities in the Middle East
Editor’s Note: The most commonly used dates have been referenced above to indicate the world’s oldest countries. Many if not all of these dates are still under discussion by historians, but we offer them here as an editorial reference, not a scientific one.