15

According to Wiki, Jerusalem has been captured and re-captured 44 times in History.

I found this number to be quite high (as one would expect with Jerusalem) and it got me wondering if any other cities have changed hands more times than that?

Which city would hold the title of most captured city in history?

NB: By capture, this could be any duration, even if the victor only held it for a day before loosing it again. As long as the captor was effectively in control of it for any period of time I would count it.

  • 2
    Does it still count as "captured" if the city surrenders without a fight? – Semaphore Sep 22 '14 at 19:53
  • @Semaphore I would say yes! – Juicy Sep 22 '14 at 22:55
  • 3
    Civ fans have some candidates: apolyton.net/showthread.php/168921-Most-captured-city – James Sep 23 '14 at 13:57
  • 1
    Does captured include cities which changed hands based on territorial conquests or regime changes without having actual troops march through them? – lazarusL Sep 26 '14 at 0:26
  • 1
    I don't have a specific candidate in mind, but I have read that a town in the Shenandoah Valley, probably Front Royal, Virginia, changed hands dozens of times during the US Civil War from 1861-1865. If a town can come so close to Xi'an's record in just 4 years, it is possible that some ancient city in Asia, Africa, or Europe beats it. – MAGolding Jan 3 '17 at 18:35
21

The City of Xi'an / Hsi-an aka Ch'ang-an aka Hao - 51 (58) times

  1. 771 B.C. - conquered by the Quanrong barbarians
  2. 771 B.C. - recovered by Qin forces
  3. 207 B.C. - captured by Liu Bang's army
  4. A.D. 23 - captured by the Green Forests Army rebels
  5. 25 - captured by the Red Eyebrows Army rebels
  6. 26 - recovered by Deng Yu
  7. 192 - captured by Li Jue and Guo Si
  8. 198 - captured by Duan Wei
  9. 306 - sacked by forces under Sima Yue
  10. 307 - recovered by sacked by forces under Sima Yue
  11. 311 - captured by Han Zhao forces
  12. 312 - recovered by Jin loyalist forces
  13. 313 - partially captured by Han Zhao's Liu Yao in surprise attack
  14. 313 - abandoned to Jin relief forces
  15. 316 - conquered by Liu Yao
  16. 329 - capitulated to Shi Le after being abandoned by the royal court
  17. 332 - captured by Shi Le's nephew Shi Hu
  18. 350 - conquered by Fu Jian
  19. 385 - conquered by Western Yan
  20. 386 - captured by Yao Chang
  21. 417 - recovered by the Eastern Jin
  22. 418 - conquered by Helian Bobo's forces
  23. 426 - captured by Northern Wei
  24. 428 - abandoned to advancing Xia forces
  25. 430 - recovered by Northern Wei
  26. 467 - recovered by Northern Wei after an royal prince revolted in the city
  27. 532 - captured by Northern Wei rebels
  28. 614 - captured by the rebelling Li Yuan
  29. 756 - fell to rebels during the An Lushan Rebellion
  30. 757 - recovered by Tang government forces
  31. 763 - captured by the Tibetan Empire
  32. 763 - abandoned to Tang reinforcements 15 days later
  33. 783 - fell to rebels headed by Zhu Ci
  34. 784 - recovered by Tang government forces
  35. 881 - fell to Huang Chao insurrection
  36. 882 - recovered by Tang government forces
  37. 882 - recaptured by Huang Chao the next night
  38. 883 - recovered by Tang government forces
  39. 895 - seized by Li Maozhen
  40. 909 - seized by Liu Zhijun
  41. 909 - recovered by Zhu Wen
  42. 934 - capitulated to Later Tang rebels
  43. 948 - seized by rebels
  44. 949 - recovered by Later Han forces
  45. 1128 - conquered by Jin forces
  46. 1230 - conquered by the Mongols
  47. 1369 - captured by Ming forces
  48. 1643 - captured by rebels under Li Zicheng
  49. 1645 - conquered by Manchurian forces
  50. 1911 - captured by Republican revolutionaries
  51. 1949 - captured by Communist Chinese forces

The following involve hostile forces taking control of the city, but mostly from within (as coups, revolts, etc), so not sure if we want to count them:

  1. 467 - seized in revolt by a Northern Wei prince
  2. 626 - seized in coup by Crown Prince Li Shimin
  3. 705 - seized in coup by Imperial Chancellor Zhang Jianzhi
  4. 710 - seized in coup by Prince Li Longji
  5. 835 - seized in coup by eunuchs
  6. 904 - seized in coup by Zhu Wen
  7. 1936 - seized in pro-Communist/Chinese Unity coup
-3

Some cities have been around for a very long time. Alexandria (in Egypt) and Damascus (in Syria) would certainly come out very high on your list.

  • 1
    Jerusalem? I hear it's been bloody there. – Rajib Sep 22 '14 at 16:26
  • 6
    True for Damascus, it's one of the oldest cities in the world. Alexandria though was established by Alexander, way after Jerusalem and Damascus. And without being rude, this doesn't really provide an answer :) – Juicy Sep 22 '14 at 16:27
  • Yes, but Egypt did change hands a large number of times since the foundation of Alexandria (Ptolemies, Romans, Sasanians, Romans (Byzantines) again, numerous rival Muslim dynasties, Mamluks, Ottomans, Albanians, British....) – fdb Sep 22 '14 at 16:43
  • True you have a point – Juicy Sep 22 '14 at 16:45
1

The city of Xuzhou in China is said to have seen 200 notable battles. I don't know how many of these ended with the city being captured, but it seems like it would rank very high.

I did a quick check and between 1911 and 1948 it changed hands at least 5 times.

  • I was thinking somewhere in China myself. Xi'an (西安) was the one I was looking at. When the city was known as Chang'an (长安), it was repeatedly sacked during the An Lushan Rebellion alone. I think most strategically important cities in China would give Jerusalem a serious run for its money. – Comintern Sep 24 '14 at 4:04
  • @Comintern That was actually my first thought, too. I tried to compile a list over the last couple of nights, but unfortunately came out at ~41 or so. After ~A.D. 1000, Its remoteness from the coast/southeast really hampered from this dubious "honour", it seems. – Semaphore Sep 24 '14 at 7:58
-4

Cities or municipalities in ancient Mesopotamia can be the clear candidate. Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Alexander, Romans, a long list. Considering how old the city is can have a certain assurance on how many times the city has been turned over.

  • This seems like a logical argument without proof. Logically one could think there would be very old cities which have low strategic value that wouldn't really have a high amount if turnover. You need evidence to back up your claims. – user32121 Feb 23 at 3:05
1

From what I know, Jerusalem has been controlled by the most separate governments. What I mean is that once it has been controlled by one government, if that government reconquers, then you do not add another number. In this case, Jerusalem, I believe, has been captured the most times.

  • 1
    Could you expand your answer? How many is "the most times"? Do you have perhaps the beginning of a list of capturers? – ANeves Jun 12 '18 at 14:55

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