The best cities in the world have always been debated. Maybe you're a huge fan of London, Paris, or Sydney. Perhaps, you're a fan of New York, Los Angeles, or Toronto. Regardless of where it is, everyone has a favorite place they have been outside of their hometown. The only mystery is where that favorite place might be. However, pretend you could get in a time machine like the one seen on Back to the Future.

You're Marty McFly and Doc made a time machine that you're going back in time with. However, instead of going back to the same place you just were....just decades earlier, you go somewhere else. Instead, you go back to the most important time periods in history. On top of finding certain major historical cities. What city would you want to go to, and what era would you want to do it in?

Would you want to go to the early days of Tokyo in Japan, Ancient Bethlehem, or possibly early Jamestown in the United States? There are multiple places one would want to go to if they ever had the chance to visit them. In this list, we're going to break down some of the greatest cities in history. Some of them will be known about by most, while others might surprise you. We'll be going over the best era that these cities were involved in, as well as what makes them so special. We'll also go over the cool historical stuff behind them. With that said, we hope you enjoy our list of 30 Ancient Cities that would rival the best cities in the world today.

30 2100-667 BC: Thebes

At the height of Thebes, the people within the city would get up to 75,000. While this may not seem like a huge amount today, the ancient city did not live in a world of 7 billion people. In fact, they did not know the true number of continents on Earth. Thebes would be known for being one of the first true major cities. The reason for it was the timeframe of which it happened to exist, as well as the number of people that would frequent it. Thebes was at its height in 2134 BC and would eventually become the official capital of Egypt. Due to the fact that this city is thousands of years old, it would be referenced in the Christian bible as well as other religious text.

The Egyptians would use Thebes as a huge area for the worship of their most infamous God, Amun. Which most refer to as Ra. Due to its connection to the God, the people of the nation would believe in his power. Ra is the sun God, and Egypt is located in Africa. It is a place filled with sand and almost nothing for thousands of miles. Rain is needed, and rare. But sun, oh sun was always present in Thebes. During the best periods, Thebes would be the home of amazing structures, huge temples, and it would be the center of trade for thousands of people.

Thebes would sadly lose the capital spot in the 13th Century B.C. when it was destroyed by the Assyrians in 667 BC, it would become part of the Greek Dynasty under Alexander the Great, like so many others. Eventually, it would find its way out and remains a city today. Sadly, not at the height it was before.

29 2400 BC: Mari, Mesopotamia

When thinking about legendary historical areas, Mesopotamia will always come to mind. The area sits on the Tigris-Euphrates river system, which would be in the modern day Middle East. However, likely one of their greatest places was the city of Mari. This was a city in which some of the most historical and important events happened in world history. Mari was known as the capital of trade for Mesopotamia, and it was used as a place for invention and the showing of them. When the trade route became a massive thing, it was dominated by Mari due to its location. Today, it would be located in Syria.

This area is close enough to the waterways that people could come in and out without much issue. It created an amazing opportunity for people, which made Mari a must-see area of the world at this point. Some of the first pieces of pottery were seen here, as well as other normal goods and services. Due to being so high in trade, Mari saw a massive economic boom and by 2400 BC they were the largest city in the world. The government would continue to dominate for a while as well. In their time, Mari and other areas of Mesopotamia saw several people lead them. The Samaritans, Greek, etc.

However, when the 1930's discovery of 25,000 tablets written in an extinct language called Akkadian changed the game on Mari. We now have information on various things that went down here. From governmental letters to personal ones, and much more. It was a vibrant city that gave the world so much. It would be terrific to go back and see.

28 Renaissance Era: Florence, Italy

Florence became a massive place for some of the most important things in the world. It would thrive under the Renaissance period, which gave us several amazing things. From beautiful art, music, and clothing to interesting inventions. People like Leonardo Da Vinci would go through here and show off his work and new inventions on the regular. In fact, the area became such a popular region that the city would be immensely populated at all times. Day and night, there would always be something going on in the area.

Likely one of the most popular things regarding Florence is their gorgeous buildings build centuries ago that are still up today. The area has wonderful home-based buildings as well as a gorgeous cathedral. To this day, the cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful man-made structures in the world.

They were also close enough to the water system to become a useful place for trade and meetings. The food here would be spoken of often, with many going to the area for the most amazing bread and pastries. The Renaissance was truly born in this city, and it would likely be THE place to be during that time. The city still stands today and is still very populated and beloved.

27 14th-16th Century: Cusco, Peru

While the Vikings did discover the Americas 500 years before Europeans did so, they were never really involved in the South American region. Meanwhile, the Spanish were very much involved in this spot over the years. However, before any European arrived, the Cusco area was the major spot of the Inca Empire. The Incans were ahead of the game compared to most and made several amazing homes and inventions that remained in use for centuries.

By the 16th Century, the Incans were the largest empire in the world. Despite very few outside the Americas knowing of them for some time before. They are credited for their terrific structures and very intensive systems that no other native people had. They had their own calendars, math, astrology, and medical systems.

The Inca knew how to properly do a lot, even though they were thriving in a time when other Natives were also attempting to do so. Basically, it is still known that the Inca were the best administrative and political natives known to history. This is known from the several discoveries made here over the years. Eventually, the Spanish would conquer the area by the late 1500s with the Incans falling as a result. They remained together from the 13th to 16th Century, making them one of the most successful empires in history. Fransisco Pizzaro claimed to the Spanish Monarchy, as well as the Spanish people, that Cusco was so beautiful that it could rival any area in Spain at the time.

26 11th Century BC: Damascus

Damascus is mentioned in multiple historical documents, as well as religious books like the Islamic Quran and Christian Bible. It is always spoken of as a place people desire to have. The Christian Bible mentions it in Genesis and goes over the War of Kings story regarding it. The Prophet Mohammad once went by the city and saw it from the outside, but refused to enter it. He claimed that he did not want to enter paradise but once, upon his passing. Basically, he was saying the beauty of the city was so immense that he thought it to be an area that could be seen as a paradise.

To be honest, it was. In today's modern Syria, Damascus would be an ideal area to come through for travelers. Upon the time Armenians came in, the city would become of major importance. Due to the battles that went down for the total area, Damascus would be passed from Kingdom to Kingdom. Even Alexander the Great once fought for and owned it.

Sadly when General Pompey came in, he and his people would destroy most of the city and rebuild it to their specifications. Resulting in a less beautiful city as a result. However, the fact that the city was such a common area for the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim has stood the test of time. From the Armenian people taking it and making it amazing by 1300s BC to the centuries it stood. The city is still around today, and still holds some great historical sites from the history of the region.

25 13th-15th Century: Timbuktu

Timbuktu is called "the city of gold" for a very real reason, it was. The area was a place that was known to hold a fair share of the stuff, but it was known for so much more. The importance of the area is well-known to historians and the people near the area. Though others do not realize what went down here. While Timbuktu was a beautiful city centuries ago, it is what happened within the city that people often forget about. The city became a major area of trade, as it sat near the Niger River.

The city would become a permanent settlement for thousands by the 10th Century BC and become the major trade territory that the world knew it for. They excelled in the trade of salt, ivory, and of course gold. The Mali Empire took it over by 13th Century, which ultimately helped it grow much more. Under the Mali people, the place would become a major area for the Islamic religion but also for education.

In fact, the education was so significant in the area that people came from all over the world after hearing of its educational system. Due to the immense salt and gold involved in trade, Timbuktu would be part of a literal Golden Age. They were immensely wealthy, creating the first true economic super-city. Though the books are what made it truly groundbreaking, as it created several scholars who went on to do terrific things. Sadly that all changed by the 16th Century. They did okay enough to survive after this, but the "city of gold" would slowly begin to wither away. Today, the desert is slowly taking it. Though all the books and documents from its time filled with scholars can be found online today.

24 Neolithic Era: Jericho

Jericho would first see people carve out a home there in 9,000 B.C. and see importance after a while. Jericho would be of major importance throughout history due to its location and prowess as the first true city in the world. Everyone knew about it, and that made it a center for trade for hundreds of years. The city is located between Mt. Nebo and the Dead Sea. This sea provided a great bit of salt for them after a while, which would become a major trade item for the city. The Jordan River sort of randomly created its own spot in the area, thus creating a water oasis. This was a major reason for living here, and it became a legendary place due to this.

It is most known for its mention in religious text. The Christian Bible speaks of it in the Old Testament, regarding the infamous wall it had created around the city. They wrote of the Battle of Jericho, which saw the Israeli people plan to take Canaan, the Promised Land. They would need to go through Jericho to do it. The wall was built by the Jericho people due to floods in the area. Taking it down helped conquer it, so the Bible states Joshua and his army blew their trumpets and marched around it until it fell.

Likely its most thriving and amazing period happened during the Neolithic Era (later Stone Age). The people would create pottery and architecture before the technology was made do to so. The stuff they're most known for were plastered skulls, and none from this time are seen anywhere else. They would even make their own clothing with materials traded for that had not been seen elsewhere in this time period. Truly they remained ahead of the game.

23 650 B.C.-300 BC: Carthage

The beautiful city of Carthage was founded by The Phoenicians. They were a sea-faring people who dominated the coast of the Mediterranean Sea for years. Carthage gave them a home in order to push trade. Due to its connection to the sea, it became a massive trade city and held a great bit of influence in the world it knew. Carthage was also far ahead on male and female equality.

They would have a Queen named Dido, who was part of the founding of the area and the first leader of Carthage upon the people declaring independence. Due to its prime location to the sea, and major trade connections, it would be fought for by many people over the years. Including The Romans, who would ultimately defeat The Phoenicians in the Punic Wars.

The city also contained a massive amount of salt, which was used in trade and only made it a bigger area to conquer. It had an amazing marketplace, wonderful location, and was envied by so many for hundreds of years. Ultimately, the city held on for some time despite the greed for it. Today, the original city is located in modern-day Tunisia. Though in its major point as an Empire, it was pretty huge. It would include other areas which are now the countries of Italy, Libya, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Algeria, and France. You can imagine why so many wanted it, right?

22 8th Century-4th Century BC: Olympia

Olympia may sound God-Like, but that is kind of the point. The city would be founded by the Ancient nation of Elis with the expressed idea of using it to honor their Greek Gods. It was mostly known for its massive statue of Zeus, which is made from ivory and gold. It would become known as "The Valley of the Gods" due to the honoring of Zeus as well as other Gods like Hera. Despite the name of the city being so popular and the visiting to it being immense, it would remain quite small over the years.

Though the earliest buildings date back to 600 BC.Olympia is most known for being the site of the very first Olympic Games, which took place in 776 BC.

When Elis fell, various sanctuaries went with it. The Pisatans would take over, and eventually organize the Olympic Games. Elis would work with Sparta and regain the city, and eventually add more to it. They added sports to the Games and even built famous arenas like the Hippodrome and an early Gymnasium. They would construct the famous Greek Baths on top of this. Olympia is now under the control of Greece, but sadly many of the beautiful structures it once had are gone or mostly gone. The Olympics are an every 2 years event that remains in play today after returning in the late 1800's.

21 3rd Century BC: Ur, Mesopotamia

Ur is connected to more history than most assume. It is believed by many historians and theologists to be Ur Kasdim, which the book of Genesis in the Christian Bible references. It is also mentioned in the Jewish Torah. If it is the place they were referencing, it would be the birthplace of the legendary Abraham. You know, THAT Abraham. Eventually being a major fixture in Mesopotamia, Ur would become a well-known area for multiple luxury items they crafted.

These items would be made by hand from precious metals and stones. Of course, these stones and metals would turn out to be massively valuable much later on. Yet they were quite popular then as well. Ur would become the world's largest population in 2100 BC, with an astounding 100,000 people at the time.

Like many places connected to Mesopotamia, Ur was a major area for trade. However, the trade was mostly known to be one-sided in this area due to their amazing hand-crafted items with those precious stones and metals mentioned above. Ur would develop into quite a rich area. Though people left the area behind by 500 BC, which is assumed to have happened due to the area drying up for water and crops. Eventually, people would begin going back to bury their deceased relatives or friends. Archeologists in the mid-1800's would dig in the area and uncover something interesting. This once highly populated city had become known as a Necropolis or city of dead people.

20 1200 AD: Kaifeng, China

There are so many well-known Asian Dynasties that it would come as no surprise that some of them would create or take over some amazing cities. One such city in China was called Kaifeng. It would come to be created and run by the Chinese Song Dynasty. It was quite a useful area, as it had a great and central location to four different canals. For those unaware, this was quite important due to travel. It would become the Capitol of China after a while.

By the year 1200 AD, it would be surrounded by walls to protect it from enemies. Invasions were frequent, and taking the city would change a lot for a kingdom due to the location. Clearly, Kaifeng was a centerpiece for any enemy seeking to move up. China's capital could not go down, for if it did...China would be in trouble.

Yet it did just that. The Chinese would become part of a 40-year war with the Mongolians. Which resulted in the Mongols taking the city. The area was highly populated, holding the World's largest population by the year 1200 AD. It was the time in which great and beautiful parts of the city were born, and trade made it a must-see area. It would be connected to the infamous Silk Road, a place where explorer Marco Polo would frequent. Upon the Mongols taking it over, as well as most of the Silk Road, Kaifeng would eventually fall from its former grace. Yet what surrounded it became very useful for centuries.

19 Victorian Era: London, England

The London area has been around for centuries. Well before the American Revolution, England was a superpower that would become nearly unstoppable. Well, when they learned wars are won much more when you don't show up and march in a battlefield. Anyway, by the 1800's, England would see its peak after a number of miserable years. London would be at the center of it all, and multiple areas of the city would be built or redesigned.

Queen Victoria took the throne by 1837 and would make the United Kingdom far better as a result. By 1825, the city of London was the most populated in the world at 1.3 million, which continued to grow. She helped to lead them into the Industrial Revolution, which saw London invent massive things we still use today.

London was a slum, but Victoria helped to clean it up. Her castle/mansion was a great sight along with the buildings and cathedrals. Most important, the clothing and overall style of the era was tremendous. Having anything "Victorian Era" is considered to be relatively pricey by historians. Victoria even was the first to have a white wedding dress, making others want it too. Overall, they changed the game. They would add an amazing railway system and even a sewage area that would be revolutionary and used all over the developed world since. Victoria would hold the throne until her passing in 1901 and give England a head-start on the rest of the world for some time.

18 6500 BC: Çatalhöyük

Çatalhöyük is one heck of an ancient city. While most know it isn't the first city, it is believed to be one of the first at the very least. Humans began to populate it over 9,000 years ago. They even led the world with the largest city population with 1,000 people. Considering humans existing at that time, this would have been considered a massive part of the world. Çatalhöyük is mostly known for being the first to do a lot of things. Along with Jericho, the two old major cities were able to figure a lot of things out. Çatalhöyük, however, seemed to figure out more than most.

In that, if you grow food and breed animals you already won't always have to rely on hunting and gathering. This had been the primary source of food for centuries.

By 6500 BC, they had grown to 3,000 people and truly began their interesting points. They would make homes from mud that they'd develop a brick-like source out of. It would work very well, so much so that the people would walk on roofs rather than the streets and the homes could hold them well. Many of these homes STILL stand today, with much of the city and things within it being well-preserved. They would also have a creative period. Archeologists found amazing murals and figurines. At one point, the city drew a map of the area at the time. Today that very map is considered the oldest such map in history and the world's first landscape painting. They were truly amazing, and one heck of a city.

17 26th Century BC: Uruk, Mesopotamia

Uruk was a well-known city in the Mesopotamia territory, but it would form simply because of the personal need of people. Like Jericho and Çatalhöyük, Uruk is relatively old and formed centuries ago. The reason behind the formation was that small pockets of people would exist originally. It might be a small or big family, but that was always how it would go down. Usually, people moved around because they would go where the food was. However, not all were great hunters and some were simply better at it than others.

This sparked the organization of Uruk, which was designed on the mere fact that poor harvests were developing too much of a problem for hunting. Resulting in less food for everyone by proxy, or even an overabundance. They would invent amazing forms of hierarchy, taxation, crafts, and much more.

Though they are mostly known for their specialized writings that would come to pass later on. Due to their prime location on the Euphrates River, they were a trade king for many years. Under their legendary King Gilgamesh, they would become a vibrant city that was rivaled by very few. They are even mentioned in the Christian Bible, mostly under the name "Erech." Due to its organized system, they would develop tremendous trade with multiple people throughout the world, with grain being their main export. It is considered to be one of the finest cities ever constructed. Parts of the earliest civilization's homes and structures were so well constructed that other structures would be later built upon those foundations.

16 1400 AD: Beijing, China

The Chinese people are very lucky, in that they have been around longer than many nations and have remained a major force in the world for hundreds of years. Meanwhile, several have fallen off or formed around them in that time. From places like Germany, France, and England falling down to the formation of the United States and success in India. However, likely the best time period in China would have been in the 1400's.

The Ming Dynasty would be in charge by this point, and by 1420, they would make Beijing their capital city. This city would become one of the finest in the world for hundreds of years. They would become the center of trade for centuries and they still remain a top economic power.

The city was so smart with trade that they would go on to invent storage areas to keep major product to sell or use later. This would include grain, salts, and other perishables. Yet they also managed to do this with some animals over the years. They would also be ahead of most in the use of coal and heat, which did not do well for their region climate-wise. China is still suffering from this. Yet this city survived so much and was known for the beauty of its stores, homes, and overall kingdom. While the Ming Dynasty would fall off, "The Forbidden City" would become a key area to every new ruling party that would come along. Including the likes of the Qing Dynasty who put their imperial palace here. Beautiful Chinese Temples would surround it, and remain a force even today.

15 16th-19th Century: Varanasi, India

Varanasi is a city that dates back centuries. It would first begin to thrive in 11th Century BC, making it one of the oldest cities still inhabited today. They have legendary burial areas that are sacred to the city, and deep as well as amazing labyrinths across the city that would be used to help in war periods. This is on top of amazing buildings, in particular, their infamous Golden Temple. They were a hub for Hinduism and remain one of the world's biggest Hindu hubs today. Though they do have many Muslims who live in peace among them. The city sits in modern-day Uttar Pradesh on the River Ganges. This made them a prime trade route for centuries, and quite a rich nation.

Likely their best time period that brought them importance was under Emperor Akbar in the 16th Century, who helped them go into a religious revival. He is the one responsible for their amazing temples, mostly dedicated to the Goddess Shiva.

They would invent amazing clothing, which became a trademark to the city under him and his family. In trade, they would have tremendous silks, ivory, crafts, and sculptures that would become major for the city. India would make its mark on the world massively through Varanasi in this time. The Mughals would rule the Indian Kingdom for centuries, with Varanasi as their top place to spread their change. They along with other dynasties would rule them until Queen Victoria and England came along. They would declare their independence and Varanasi remains a rich, amazing country to this day.

14 900-1249 AD-Baghdad

Today, some see the city of Baghdad in a bad light. It is likely due to the terrorism that has sadly surrounded it over the last few decades. However, before all of this...Baghdad was not only a wonderful city but an extremely important one as well. By 900 AD, they were the center of The Golden Age of Islam. Muslims from all over would even come by here, as well as Mecca, for religious reasons. In fact, by the 900 AD period, the city had become so beloved that it was the world's most populated city with around 900,000 people. The Middle East saw a mini-renaissance for Islam due to the Bagdad and what they provided. They were most known during this time period for the House of Wisdom.

This is where the city accumulated all of the world's knowledge they could find at the time, and write it in Arabic for the people of the time to understand. It became a center of trade and enlightenment, as people from all over would come here to speak with others about their thoughts and ideas.

Often, it was religious while others could even be business related. These idea exchanges led to the city's Agricultural Revolution, which they used a scientific approach to. This idea not only worked, but most of us still use the same system today in the world of agriculture. They would remain a major fixture until the Mongols took the city in 1250 AD. Though even then, they would do so much. The city still sits as a major fixture in modern-day Iraq, though nothing like the city of old.

13 1600BC-30BC: Athens, Greece

Like Olympia, Athens would become known mostly for its great temples and shrines to the Greek Gods of old. However, Athens was home to likely the most important people of their time. Athens is responsible for the invention of a lot of the finance and commerce we use today. They revolutionized the arts, culture, and entertainment scene. They made literature that rivals anything at any point in history. On top of this, their philosophy material is still taught in every school, every year. Considering this is the home of Aristotle, we can understand why.

The city became a rich hub of ideas and cultural revolutions. The city would not be held back by any monarchy or ruler over it, as everyone wanted Athens to be what it was.

The city is relatively old, as it was originally founded in 1400 BC. It would become prominent on day one. Likely their best time period came under the infamous Greek rulers of the past, such as Alexander The Great. By the Classical Period, the Greeks made it out of the Dark Ages and figured out key material. They would add the infamous Parthenon and their temple for Zeus. Between the Classical and Hellenistic Eras, Alexander would come in to help expand the Greek Dynasty. They would conquer the Persian Empire over it, and then ultimately become the great dynasty we know and love. After the death of Cleopatra, Ancient Greece was done, but the city remained such a significant area in the world for so long.

12 1789-1913 AD: Paris, France

Ah, the French. The place that invented the infamous pastries, fries, and bread that helped make people obese due to the to amazing nature they possess. Paris has stood as one of the best cities in the world will likely remain in this for years to come. Paris' best time period came after the French Revolution to many. Before the revolution, the French found itself involved in random wars and would likely show itself to be an enemy to many places for a while. When the revolution occurred, Napoleon Bonaparte would slowly rise to power. The period of 1789-1913 would likely be the best time period in Paris.

It was at this point that amazing inventions and literature would occur. One book being Les Miserables about said Revolution. Others came as well, like The Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, and many more by Alexander Dumas. Alex was a black man who made a name in literature when other nations had held men such as him back.

Louis Pasteur, the man who found a way to make milk safe to drink at any point would rise up. Amazing buildings and cathedrals would come about as well. Likely the most well-known structure in Paris would be the Notre Dame cathedral, which would become a major part of France during this time period. From the beautiful paintings, clothing, and buildings to the amazing literature and people...Paris was an amazing city that was vibrant at this point. It is still a major hub for fashion, art, and more. But it all started in this time period.

11 883-599 BC: Nimrud

Nimrud was best known for the amazing location they are in, and their tremendous trade area. They sat right on the Tigris River and happened to be the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire for some time. They are referenced in the Christian Bible as "Calah" mostly, and they were part of the Mesopotamian territory. The thought is that the name changed to the biblical Nimrod, who was a legendary hunter at the time. Historic King Shalmaneser I would be the first King of the territory and build up Nimrud into a major city. They even became the Capital of the Assyrian Empire at this time.

Possibly their best time periods came under the Ashurnasirpal monarchy when King Ashurnasirpal II took over in 9th Century BC. He would make a grand palace that could be seen from great distances. It would become a major fixture in the city. Being made from the finest materials of the day like cedar, juniper, mulberry, pistachio wood, tamarisk, and much more. His son, however, would build a bigger one. It was about 5 Hectares or 12 acres massive!

Yet both King Ashurnasirpal II and III would contain great treasure and art there. It would even contain very interesting/hilarious writings on the walls. Around this, both Kings would build amazing temples, botanical gardens, and even great zoos that would house any exotic or local animals they could find. The Kings would even invite as many as 100,000 people to stay within the palace at one time. King Ash III would build the Great Ziggurat statue and another temple after his father's passing. It remained a major fixture and amazing territory until about 599 BC.