List of oldest church buildings
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This article lists some but by no means all of the oldest known church buildings in the world. In most instances, buildings listed here were reconstructed numerous times and only fragments of the original buildings have survived.
"Church" may also be used in the sense of "Christian denomination", or in the singular as the Christian Church as a whole. The "church" (ecclesia) is traced to Pentecost and the beginning of the Christian mission in the 1st century.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper) in Jerusalem is the "first Christian church." The Archaeology magazine suggests that the Dura-Europos church in Syria is the oldest in the world. Several authors have cited the Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Armenia's mother church) as the oldest cathedral.
Church buildings of the 2nd to 4th centuries, either excavated archaeologically, or substantially preserved.
|Dura-Europos house church||Dura-Europos, Syria||c. 229||Several walls still standing, oldest images of Jesus discovered within the surviving frescoes of the large baptistry room.|
|Megiddo church||Tel Megiddo, Israel||late 3rd century||Ruins discovered on prison grounds in 2005, possibly oldest building constructed as a church ever discovered.|
|Etchmiadzin Cathedral||Vagharshapat, Armenia||301-303 (traditional date)||Armenian Apostolic||The current building was founded in 483 and heavily rebuilt in the following centuries. It still functions as a church and is the main cathedral of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Etchmiadzin Cathedral is listed among the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.|
|Panagia Ekatontapiliani||Parikia, Greece||The church dates to 326 AD. Its oldest features likely predate the adoption of Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire in 391 AD.||Orthodox e||Panagia Ekatontapyliani (also known as the Church of 100 Doors) is a historic Byzantine church complex|
|Stavrovouni Monastery||Larnaca, Cyprus||327-329 AD ||Orthodox||It was founded by Saint Helena the mother of the Byzantine Emperor Constantine the Great at the place where after a miracle she found the lost Holy Cross on her way back from her pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Saint Helena went on the pilgrimage after the First Ecumenical Synod in Nicaea (325). The monastery has a piece of the Holy Cross left there by Saint Helena.|
|St. Peter's Basilica||Vatican City||333. (Old St. Peter's, some elements remain) new St. Peter's Basilica 1635||Roman Catholic||Largest church in the world|
|Paromeos Monastery||Wadi El Natrun, Egypt||335||Coptic Orthodox||built by St. Ambrose in 379-386.|
|Basilica of Sant'Ambrogio||Milan, Italy||379-386||Catholic||built by St. Ambrose in 379-386.|
|Church of St Peter||Antioch (Antakya), Turkey||4th or 5th century (later additions, possibly earlier usage)||Syriac Orthodox||Cave-church used by very first Christians of Antioch, where St. Peter presided as bishop. Known by its original Aramaic name of Knisset Mar Semaan Kefa. Extensively reconstructed, with oldest surviving elements from 4th or 5th century.|
|Santa Maria in Trastevere||Rome, Italy||Current wall structure and floors date to 340 AD||Roman Catholic||The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Julius I, but the oldest parts of the present church, the wall structure and floors, date to 340 AD |
|Church of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul (Novi Pazar)||Stari Ras, Novi Pazar, Serbia||4th century, with additions in the 7th and 9th centuries||Eastern Orthodox||Also known as Peter's Church (Serbian: Петрова црква / Petrova crkva), it is a Serbian Orthodox church, the oldest intact church in Serbia, situated on a hill of Ras, the medieval capital of the Serbian Grand Principality (Rascia), near Novi Pazar, Serbia. It is part of the Stari Ras complex, listed on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites in Serbia.|
|Cathedral of Trier||Trier, Germany||340 AD overseen by Bishop Maximin of Trier, the construction of the grandest ensemble of ecclesiastical structures in the West outside Rome. Some 4th-century elements remain in a mainly Romanesque building||Roman Catholic||Oldest cathedral in Germany, still in use today.|
|Monastery of Saint Anthony||Eastern Desert, Egypt||356 c. (later additions)||Coptic Orthodox||Partially destroyed in the 11th century and rebuilt.|
|Basilica of San Lorenzo, Milan||Milan, Italy||364 c.||Catholic||When built, it was biggest rotunda church building. the four round apsis forming a cross appears here for the first time. It was an inspiration for the Hagia Sofia in Constantinople.|
|Basilica of San Simpliciano||(Milan), Italy||c. 374||Catholic||Exterior walls are still the original from the late 4th century, Roman basilical windows like the one in Trier are still visible on the flank of the basilica.|
|Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains basilica||Metz, France||380||Roman Catholic||Originally built to be part of a Roman spa complex, but the structure was converted into use as a church in the 7th century becoming the chapel of Benedictine monastery. Oldest church building in France.|
|San Nazaro in Brolo||(Milan), Italy||c. 382||Catholic||Most ancient Latin cross building in western Europe. Just basilical or rotunda church building were built before San Nazaro in Europe.|
|Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio ruins||Milan, Italy||c. 4th century||Catholic||Some ruins remains of the apsis of the ancient basilica.|
|Church of St. George, Sofia||Sofia, Bulgaria||4th century||Eastern Orthodox||Built by the Romans with many later additions|
|Jubail Church||Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia||4th century||Nestorian||The government hides it from locals and bans foreigners from openly visiting it, even archaeologists.|
|Aqaba Church ruins||Aqaba, Jordan||4th century||Ruins uncovered in 1988.|
|Aparan Basilica||Aparan, Armenia||c. 390s|
- Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, Originally built in the 4th century, rebuilt several times, most recently in the 17th century, Possibly oldest church building in Sub-Saharan Africa (Ethiopian Orthodox Church)
- Mor Gabriel Monastery, founded in 397 by Saint Samual and Simon belonging to the Syriac Orthodox Church
Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages
Church buildings dating to between the 5th and 10th centuries that have not been substantially altered in later periods.
|San Giovanni Evangelista, Ravenna (Ravenna)||Ravenna||Italy||424||Roman Catholic||Partially original walls - original floors and columns under layers of new floors.|
|Church of Saint Simeon Stylites (Deir Semaan)||Aleppo||Syria||475||Eastern Orthodox||No longer a functioning church, but walls still standing.|
|Bolnisi Sioni||Bolnisi||Georgia||479-493||Eastern Orthodox||The oldest extant church building in Georgia|
|Hagia Sophia||Istanbul||Turkey||532-537||Eastern Orthodox||In 1453, it was captured and converted into Muslim mosque, becoming a museum in 1932.|
|Basilica of Saint Servatius||Maastricht||Netherlands||c. 550. There were a small memorial chapel on the site of the saint's Saint Servatius (310-384), who became the first bishop of Maastricht, this was later replaced by a larger stone church||Roman Catholic||The oldest church in the Netherlands|
|Saint Catherine's Monastery||Saint Catherine||Egypt||c. 550||Eastern Orthodox||Oldest functioning monastery in the world, received the Patent of Mohammed.|
|Church of the Nativity||Bethlehem||West Bank||c. 565||Oriental Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic||One of the oldest church buildings in the world, still functioning as a church.|
|Dranda Cathedral||Dranda||Abkhazia, Georgia||550-600 ca||Eastern Orthodox||The oldest church building in Abkhazia, still functioning as a church.|
|Jvari (monastery)||Mtskheta||Georgia||590-604||Eastern Orthodox||A World Heritage Site|
|St Martin's Church, Canterbury||Canterbury||United Kingdom||597||Anglican||The oldest church building in England, still functioning as a church.|
|Debre Damo||Tigray Region||Ethiopia||6th century||Oriental Orthodox||The best preserved example of Aksumite Architecture.|
|Cathedral of Saint Domnius||Split||Croatia||Consecrated in the 7th century, structure built in 305 AD.||Roman Catholic||Built in AD 305 as the Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the cathedral was consecrated in the early 7th century following the Sack of Salona. Claimed to be the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world still in use, in its original structure. The structure of the cathedral itself is second only to the Etchmiadzin Cathedral in age.|
|Church of St. John the Baptist (Kerch)||Kerch||Ukraine||717||Eastern Orthodox||Founded in 717, later rebuilt on several occasions.|
|Church of St. Margaret of Antioch, Kopčany||Kopčany||Slovakia||9th or 10th century||Roman Catholic||The only remaining Great Moravian building. The oldest church in Slovakia. Well-preserved and openly accessible to the public.|
|San Pietro in Trento, Ravenna (Ravenna)||Ravenna||Italy||Before 977||Roman Catholic||Facade restored, the interior shows for the first time in Art History romanesque style architectural features.|
- Church of the Acheiropoietos, built c. 450-470, one of oldest church buildings in Greece (Orthodox)
- Al-Aqiser church, built in 500s, oldest church building in Iraq (foundations, some walls remain)
- Saint Hripsime Church, built 618 AD in Armenia (Armenian Apostolic)
- Church of San Juan Bautista, Baños de Cerrato, built in 661, oldest church building in Spain (Roman Catholic)
- The Hanging Church, Built c. 690 on site of earlier church, possibly the oldest church building in Egypt (Coptic Orthodox)
- Ateni Sioni Church, early 7th century, Georgia
- Anchiskhati Basilica, built in the 600s, the oldest church building in Tbilisi.
- São Pedro de Balsemão, built in the 7th century, possibly oldest church building in Portugal (Roman Catholic)
- Saint Frutuoso Chapel, built in the 7th century, possibly oldest church building in Portugal (Roman Catholic)
- Densuş Church, built in 600s, oldest church building in Romania
- Church of St Peter-on-the-Wall, Bradwell-on-Sea, UK, built c. 660, re-using Roman brick.
- Escomb Church, UK, built 670-675.
- All Saints' Church, Brixworth, UK, many parts remaining from (?) before 675
- St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth, UK, porch and west wall date from 674 A.D.
- St Paul's Church, Jarrow, UK, parts - including the original dedication stone - date from 685 A.D.
- St Peter’s Church, Titchfield, Hampshire, UK, some parts remain from c. 680
- Great Church, Elst, the Netherlands, aisleless church built in the 8th century, built upon remains of two Gallo-Roman temples
- Gallarus Oratory, built between the 6th and 9th centuries, Possibly the oldest church building in Ireland
- Church of Holy Cross, Nin, built in 9th century, oldest church building in Croatia (Roman Catholic)
- Kadamattom Church, India, built in the 9th century.
- Church of Ayios Lazaros, Larnaca, built in the 9th century, one of the oldest churches in Cyprus
- Church of SS. Peter and Paul, built at Budeč fortified settlement between 895 and 905 during rule of Spytihněv I is the oldest extant church building in the Czech Republic. The site (cf. cs:Budeč (hradiště)) is located near village of Zákolany, about 17 kilometres (11 mi) NW of Prague.
- Tkhaba-Yerdy Church, Russia, built prior to the 9th century
- Greensted Church, UK, built in the mid-9th or mid-11th century, oldest wooden church building in Europe
- Worth Church, UK, dated c. 950 to 1050 AD.
- Shoana Church, Russia, built c. the 10th century
- Senty Church, Russia, built c. the 10th century
- Church of Tarnaszentmária, built at the end of the 10th century
High to Late Middle Ages
A selection of notable, extant 11th- to 14th-century churches.
|Church of Our Lady (Aarhus)||Aarhus||Denmark||1060, an older wooden church was on the site in the 10th century||Lutheran||The crypt church is the oldest extant stone church in Scandinavia. still functioning as a church.|
|St. Michael's Church, Vienna||Vienna||Austria||1220–1240||Roman Catholic|
- St. Margaret's Chapel, built in the 11th century, possibly the oldest church building in Scotland
- Saviour Cathedral (Chernihiv), Ukraine, built in the 1030s
- Saint Sophia Cathedral (Kyiv), Ukraine, built in the 1030s
- Saint Cyril's Monastery (Kyiv), Ukraine, founded in 1140
- Arkhyz churches, Russia, 10th to 13th centuries
- Novgorod Cathedral, Russia, built between 1045 and 1050
- Old Aker Church (Norwegian: Gamle Aker kirke) is a medieval church located in Oslo. An active parish, the church is the oldest existing building in Oslo from 1080.
- Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rebuilt in 1089, in Jerusalem is venerated as Golgotha (the Hill of Calvary), where Jesus was crucified, and is said also to contain the place where Jesus was buried (the Sepulchre) (some walls from earlier structure may exist), (Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox)
- Church of St. Adalbert, Kraków, built in the 11th century, Possibly the oldest church building in Poland
- Saint Sophia Cathedral in Polotsk, Belarus, 18th-century building with an 11th-century apse
- Abbey of Romainmôtier: a 5th-century church was rebuilt in the 7th century, and again between 990 and 1030. The church building remained mostly unchanged since the 11th century, and qualifies as one of the oldest romanesque buildings in Switzerland.
- Lund Cathedral, built in 1123, Possibly the oldest church in Sweden (although part of Denmark in 1123) (Lutheran)
- St. Peter's Church, Hamburg & St. Nicholas' Church, Hamburg, Building Started 1189 but were rebuilt several times due to fire & war but still stand in their original positions today.
- Church of Saint George, Lalibela, Built in the 12th century, one of the oldest church buildings in Ethiopia (Ethiopian Orthodox Church)
- Church of St. Panteleimon (Nerezi), built in the 12th century, One of the oldest church buildings in Macedonia
- Kalozha Church, the oldest extant church building in Belarus, 12th century.
- Church of Kish, the oldest extant Armenian church building in Azerbaijan, 12th or 13th century.
- Basilica of Saint Servatius, church congregation dating to 384 AD, current building built from 11th to 13th centuries, oldest congregation and possibly the oldest church building in the Netherlands (Roman Catholic)
- Thiruvithamcode Arappally (Arappally means Royal Church) Kanyakumari District is the oldest Church building that still exists in India.[year needed]
- St. Nicholas Church, Vilnius is the oldest surviving church in Lithuania. Originally built in the 14th century.
Notable early churches built in the New World between the 15th and 19th centuries. Listed are especially the oldest extant church buildings by country.
- St. Francis Church, Kochi, India, built 1504-1516, oldest European church building in India (Church of South India)
- Catedral de Santa María la Menor, built 1514-1540, oldest church building in the Dominican Republic (Roman Catholic)
- St. Paul's Church, Malacca, built in 1521 as a Roman Catholic chapel and finally abandoned in 1753. It is the oldest known church building in Malaysia
- Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, Puerto Rico, built in 1521, oldest church building in the United States (Roman Catholic)
- The church of La Balbanera, Ecuador, Was constructed in 1524, making it the oldest church constructed by the Spaniards in Ecuador
- Chapel of San Jacinto, Guatemala, founded in 1524, one of the oldest churches in Guatemala (Roman Catholic)
- Franciscan Chapel of the Red Cross, Jamaica, built in 1525, one of the oldest Spanish cathedrals in the New World (Roman Catholic)
- St. Dominic's Church (Macau, China), built in 1527 by three Dominican Priests (Roman Catholic)
- Church of Saints Cosme and Damião, built in 1535, in the city of Igarassu, Pernambuco. Brazil's oldest church (Roman Catholic).
- Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, established in 1565, previously named as the Church of St. Vitales and is the first church erected in the Philippines.(Roman Catholic)
- Basilica Minore del Santo Niño, established in 1565, it is the oldest church in the Philippines, (Roman Catholic)
- Mexico City Metropolitan Cathedral, built 1574-1813, one of the oldest churches in Mexico (Roman Catholic)
- Old West Kirk, Greenock, 1591, the first Protestant church built in Scotland post Reformation (Church of Scotland)
- Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Beijing, founded in 1604, possibly the oldest continuous church congregation in China (Roman Catholic)
- San Agustin Church, Manila, built in 1607, one of the oldest church buildings in the Philippines. (Roman Catholic)
- First Jamestown Church (foundations), 1607, first Protestant church in the Western Hemisphere (Episcopal)
- San Miguel Mission, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, built in 1610, oldest church building in the continental U.S. (Roman Catholic)
- Ruins of St. Paul's, China, built in 1627 (Roman Catholic)
- St. James Church, Barbados, founded 1627, oldest congregation in Barbados (Anglican)
- St. Luke's Church, USA, built in 1632, oldest building in one of the original Thirteen Colonies (Episcopal)
- Third Jamestown Church (tower), 1636 (Episcopal)
- Old Ship Church, USA, built in 1681, the oldest church building in continuous use in continental U.S., oldest wooden church (Congregationalist, later Unitarian)
- Notre-Dame-des-Victoires, Quebec City, built 1687-1723, later extensively rebuilt, Possibly the oldest church building in Canada (Roman Catholic)
- Cathedral of San Fernando, San Antonio, Texas, USA, built between 1738 and 1750, the oldest cathedral sanctuary in the United States
- St. Paul's Church (Halifax), built 1750, Possibly the oldest Protestant church building in Canada (Anglican)
- Christ Church Melaka, built in 1753 as a Dutch Reformed church, it now houses an Anglican congregation. It is the oldest Protestant church building in Malaysia
- Her Majesty's Royal Chapel of the Mohawks, constructed in 1785 for the Mohawk people led by Joseph Brant, first Protestant church in Upper Canada (Anglican)
- Church of the Holy Ascension, USA, built in 1826, oldest church building in Alaska (Russian Orthodox)
- Armenian Church, Singapore, built 1835, oldest church in Singapore
- Mokuaikaua Church, USA, built in 1837, oldest church congregation and building in Hawaii (Congregational)
- Christ Church Royal Chapel, established in 1784, built in 1843 by the Mohawk people to symbolise their alliance with the British Crown (Anglican)
- Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Possibly oldest church building in Vietnam, built 1863-1880 (Roman Catholic)
- Ōura Church, built in 1864, Possibly the oldest church building in Japan (Roman Catholic)
- Myeongdong Cathedral, built between 1892–1898, Oldest church building in South Korea (Roman Catholic)
- Church architecture
- Church (building)
- Oldest churches in the United States
- List of the oldest buildings in the world
- "To the time of Constantine (71-312)". Catholic Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15 November 2013. "Certainly no spot in Christendom can be more venerable than the place of the Last Supper, which became the first Christian church."
- Silver, Carly (11 August 2010). "Dura-Europos: Crossroad of Cultures". Archaeology. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
- Stokes, Jamie, ed. (2008). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Africa and the Middle East. New York: Infobase Publishing. p. 65. ISBN 9781438126760. "Etchmiatzin is located in the west of modern Armenia, close to the border with Turkey, and its fourth-century cathedral is generally regarded as the oldest in the world."
- Dhilawala, Sakina (1997). Armenia. New York: Marshall Cavendish. p. 72. ISBN 9780761406839. "Echmiadzin Cathedral is the spiritual center of the Armenian Church and the seat of the Catholicos of all Armenians. It is also the oldest cathedral and Christian monastery in the world."
- Bauer-Manndorff, Elisabeth (1981). Armenia: Past and Present. Lucerne: Reich Verlag. "Etchmiadzin, with the world's oldest cathedral and the seat of the Catholicos, draws tourists from all over the world."
- Utudjian, Édouard (1968). Armenian Architecture: 4th to 17th Century. Editions A. Morancé. p. 7. "...he also wanted to contribute to the restoration of the oldest cathedral in Christendom, that of Etchmiadzin, founded in the 4th century."
- Horne, Charles Francis (1925). The World and Its People: Or, A Comprehensive Tour of All Lands. New York: I.R. Hiller. p. 1312. "A far more interesting relic in this Russian section of Armenia is the old monastery of Etchmiadzin. It has been in constant use since the founding of Christianity in Armenia in the third century of our era, and is thus the oldest Christian monastery in the world today."
- Bryce, James, Viscount (1896). Transcaucasia and Ararat, being notes of a vacation tour in the autumn of 1876, by James Bryce. London: Macmillan and Co. LTD. p. 311. "...the famous monastery of Etchmiadzin, which claims to be the oldest monastic foundation in the world..."
- The Ancient Church at Megiddo: The Discovery and an Assessment of its Significance E Adams - The Expository Times, 2008 "... chronologically distinct. The structure at Megiddo is obviously not a basilica. According to Tepper, the Megiddo church is a unique ecclesiastical form. It could not have resembled the church buildings of the late third century."
- Ιερά Μονή Σταυροβουνίου, Έκδοση Ιεράς Μονής Σταυροβουνίου, 1998, Λευκωσία, Κύπρος. ISBN 9963-615-02-3 (In Greek).
- Clyde E. Fant, Mitchell Glenn Reddish, A guide to biblical sites in Greece and Turkey (Oxford University Press US, 2003), pg. 149
- "Rome attractions : Rome Churches and Basilicas Guide". Hoteldesartistes.com. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- "Santa Maria in Trastevere". Rome-explorer.com. Retrieved 2012-06-13.
- Rose, Mark. "Early Church at Aqaba". Retrieved 31 January 2014.
- "Worth Church"