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. These surviving, freestanding buildings were purposely constructed for use by congregations (or used at an early date) and the dates are the approximate dates when they were first used by congregations for worship.

"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, assembly) is traced to Pentecost and the beginning of the Christian mission in the 1st century and was not used in reference to a building.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper) in Jerusalem was the "first Christian church."[1] Archaeology magazine suggests that the Dura-Europos church in Syria is the oldest surviving church building in the world.[2] While Jordan's Aqaba Church is considered to be the world's first purpose-built church.[3] Several authors have cited the Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Armenia's mother church) as the oldest cathedral.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Early Christianity[edit]

Church buildings of the 2nd to 4th centuries, either excavated archaeologically or substantially preserved.


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Monastery of Saint Anthony
Antonius Kloster BW 7.jpg
Eastern Desert Egypt 356 Coptic Orthodox Partially destroyed in the 11th century and rebuilt; very little of the original structure remains.
Monastery of Paromeos
Paromeos Monastery.jpg
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 335 Coptic Orthodox Built by St. Macarius the Great, its name(Pa-Romeos) which in Coptic means "The Romans" is thought to refer to his two Roman disciples Saints Maximus and Domitius sons of the Roman Emperor Valentinian II. The Monastery flourished during the middle ages and continues to be a major monastery within Egypt.
Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great
Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great-13.jpg
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 360 Coptic Orthodox Built by St. Macarius the Great, Who was a father for more than 4000 Monks of different Nationalities. It has been continually inhabited since its construction and has experienced renovation and expansion in the 20th century.
Monastery of Saint Pishoy
Bischoy Kloster BW 1.jpg
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 4th Century Coptic Orthodox Built by St Pishoy, his body was moved to the monastery on December 13th in 841 AD. The Monastery contains five Churches and a Keep, constructed in the 5th century AD, for protection against Berber raids. The Monastery has been raided several times by the Berbers throughout the ages, the most famous incident is when forty of the Monasteries elders were martyred and thrown in a neighboring well, consequently called "The Well of Martyrs".
Monastery of St. Mary Deipara
Frescos from the Wadi Natrun monastery3.jpg
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 4th Century Coptic Orthodox Most commonly known as"Syrian Monastery". Some sources claim that Monks had lived there since the 4th century, but it is most commonly believed that it Was established in the 6th century by monks from the Monastery of St. Pishoy who rejected the Julian Heresy, which claimed that Christ was incorruptible. As a result they abandoned the Monastery and established a new one which they named after the Theotokos, to emphasize that they believed in Christ's humanity and corruptibility. The Monastery was bought by Syrian Merchants in the eighth century and inhabited by Syrian Monks.
Abu Mina Basilica and Complex
Abu Mena Ancient Monastery 04.JPG
Alexandria Egypt late 3rd century Coptic Orthodox Built near the place at which the Body of St. Mina the Martyr was buried, the Basilica was ordered to be built by Emperor Zenon after the Saint healed his leper daughter. A Monastic community and a city eventually sprang up near the Basilica and it became a famous site of pilgrimage. Terracotta pots with the image of the Saint and spices from his body have been found all throughout the Roman Empire and as far north as Germany. The City complex and Basilica as well as the Monastery were sacked and destroyed in the 7th century by the Arab invaders. The ruins are currently a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Monastery of St. John the Short
Hosios Loukas (nave, vault over south-west bay) - John Kolobos.jpg
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 4th century Coptic Orthodox Built by Saint John around his "Tree of Obedience". The Monastery remained open until the 17th century when it was finally abandoned. Originally the body of St. John was in a Church near modern day Suez, Egypt, but his disciples moved it to the monastery in 515 AD.
Monastery of St.Moses the Strong
Wadi El Natrun Egypt 4th century Coptic Orthodox Built by Saint Moses the Strong, who is called the Apostle of Peace. St. Moses was an Outlaw who repented and became a Monk in Sketes. As he progressed in age he became a father unto many, some of whom were criminals following his example. He was ordained a Priest and built a Chapel and a small monastic community around it. In 405 AD St. Moses heard news that the Monastery was going to be sacked, his disciples wanted to pick up arms and defend their home, however he urged them to either stand as Martyrs with him or escape to neighboring monastic communities. He and 7 others remained in the Church as it was sacked. Later some of his disciples returned and took his body, and the 7 others, with them to Paramous, where they lay today. The Monastery has remained desolate to this day.
Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion
Ark of the Covenant church in Axum Ethiopia.jpg
Axum Ethiopia 4th century Ethiopian Orthodox Originally built in the 4th century, it has been rebuilt several times, most recently in the 17th century during the reign of Emperor Fasilides.


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Dura-Europos church
Dura-Europos Syria c. 241[2] Early Church House church. Several walls still standing, oldest images of Jesus discovered within the surviving frescoes of the large baptistry room. Fragments of parchment scrolls with Hebrew texts unearthed containing Christian Eucharistic prayers closely connected with the prayers in the Didache.[10]
Megiddo church Legio near Tel Megiddo Israel late 3rd century[11] Early Church Ruins discovered on prison grounds in 2005, possibly oldest building constructed as a church ever discovered. It retains mosaic floor decoration with Christian motifs – possibly the oldest building with this feature.[12]
Aqaba Church
Early church of Aqaba02.jpg
Aqaba Jordan late 3rd-eartly 4th century[3] Early Church Ruins uncovered in 1988; Remains of an early basilica.[13] Considered to be the world's first purpose-built church.[14]
Etchmiadzin Cathedral
Էջմիածնի Մայր Տաճար.jpg
Vagharshapat Armenia 301 (tradition); current church: 483-484 Armenian Apostolic Church According to scholars it was the first cathedral of the world (but not the first church) built in ancient Armenia.
Mar Sarkis Monastery
Monastery St Sergios 3.JPG
Ma'loula Syria 4th century Syriac Catholic Built in the 5th century on the remains of a pagan temple, it likely predates the Council of Nicea (325 AD) as evidenced by the fact that it has a round altar, which was prohibited at the Council.[15] The monastery suffered extensive damage and desecration in the Syrian Civil War.[16]
Sts. Constantine & Helena Cathedral Yabroud Syria 326 Syriac Catholic Originally built as a pagan temple dedicated to Baalshamin during the first millennium BC, it was converted to a church when St. Helen passed through the city on her way back to Rome from Jerusalem. The church was damaged during the Syrian Civil War.[17]
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre-Jerusalem.JPG
Jerusalem 335 Simultaneum Originally completed in 335, the building suffered extensive damage and was almost completely destroyed in 1009. The church was rebuilt in 1038.
Church of the Nativity Betlehem Church of the Nativity.jpg Bethlehem Palestine 339 Simultaneum It was commissioned in 327 by Constantine and his mother Helena over the site that was traditionally considered to be located over the cave that marks the birthplace of Jesus. The original basilica was completed in 339.
Mar Mattai monastery
Mount Alfaf Iraq 363 Syriac Orthodox Extensively rebuilt over the years with the earliest portions built during the 4th century.
Kasagh Basilica
Basilica of the Holy Cross (Aparan, Armenia).jpg
Aparan Armenia 4th or 5th century Armenian Apostolic Original building retains many ancient features.
Mor Gabriel Monastery
Deyrulumur P1040804 20080425103239.JPG
Midyat Turkey 397 Syriac Orthodox Built on the ruins of an old Assyrian temple, the property is now currently subject to a dispute between the Turkish government and the church.
Chora Church
Chora Church Constantinople 2007 panorama 002.jpg
Istanbul Turkey 4th century Eastern Orthodox Very little remains of the 4th-century structure, but it contains impressive 13th-century mosaic decoration. It was converted to a mosque in 1501 and has been a museum since the time of Ataturk.[18]
Hagia Irene
Hagia Eirene Constantinople July 2007 002.jpg
Istanbul Turkey 4th century Eastern Orthodox Now a museum and concert hall (due to its excellent acoustics). Its excellent state of preservation is due to the fact that it lies inside the Ottoman palace complex (Topkapı Palace).[19]
Jubail Church
Jubail Church.jpg
Al-Jubail Saudi Arabia 4th century Assyrian Church The government hides it from locals and bans foreigners from openly visiting it – even archaeologists.[20]
Church of St Peter
Antioch Saint Pierre Church Front.JPG
Antioch (Antakya) Turkey 4th or 5th century 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.[21]


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Cathedral of Split1.jpg
Split Croatia 295–305 Roman Catholic Built 295–305 as the Mausoleum of emperor Diocletian, is the second oldest structure used by any Christian Cathedral. Consecrated in 641 AD, is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure, without near-complete renovation at a later date.
Rotunda of St. George
Rotunda of Galerius (February 2009).jpg
Thessaloniki Greece 306 Greek Orthodox Currently serves as a museum, although the Greek Orthodox Church has access to the church for various festivities. Structure built in 305 and consecrated later in the century.
Santi Cosma e Damiano
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Rome Italy c. 309 Roman Catholic Occupies the former space of the Temple of Romulus in the Roman Forum.
Panagia Ekatontapiliani
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Parikia Greece 326 Greek Orthodox Panagia Ekatontapyliani (also known as the Church of 100 Doors) is a historic Byzantine church complex.
Stavrovouni Monastery
Stravrovoini monastry.jpg
Larnaca Cyprus 327–329[22] Greek 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 at Large.jpg
Vatican City Vatican City State 333 Roman Catholic Largest church in the world and the seat of Roman Catholicism, the current church (1635) is built on the site of the original basilica and the grave of St. Peter (who was martyred in Rome).[23] The actual grave is visible in excavations under the church. The original floor and columns are visible in a space under the 17th-century floor.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
Santa Maria in Trastevere front.jpg
Rome Italy 340 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 from 340 AD[24][25]
Cathedral of Trier
Trier Dom BW 1.JPG
Trier Germany 340 Roman Catholic Oldest cathedral in Germany, and still in use today. Its construction was overseen by Bishop Maximin of Trier, the construction of the grandest ensemble of ecclesiastical structures in the West outside Rome. A few 4th-century elements remain in a mainly Romanesque building.
Basilica di San Lorenzo
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Milan Italy 364 Roman Catholic When built, it was the biggest circular church building standing. It was an inspiration for the Hagia Sofia in Constantinople. Some ancient features remain.
Basilica di San Simpliciano
Lombardia Milano9 tango7174.jpg
Milan Italy c. 374 Roman Catholic Exterior walls are original from the late 4th century. Roman basilica windows as in Cathedral of Trier are still visible on the flanks of the basilica.
Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains
Metz st pierre nonnains.jpg
Metz France 380 Roman Catholic Originally built to be part of a Roman spa complex, the structure was converted into use as a church in the 7th century when it became the chapel of a Benedictine monastery. It is the oldest church building in France.
San Nazaro in Brolo
IMG 5599 - Milano - S. Nazaro Maggiore - Foto Giovanni Dall'Orto - 21-2-2007.jpg
Milan Italy c. 382 Roman Catholic One of the earliest Latin cross buildings in western Europe; retains few ancient features.[26]
San Paolo fuori le mura
Roma San Paolo fuori le mura BW 1.JPG
Rome Italy 386 Roman Catholic One of the four major Constantinian basilicas in Rome, and the only one to retain its antique character, the basilica was heavily damaged by an 1823 fire. It was rebuilt true to form, however, so it remains one of the best "preserved" Constantinian basilicas in the Roman world. All that remain of the ancient basilica are the interior portions of the apse and the triumphal arch.[27]
Santi Giovanni e Paolo
Basilique Santi Giovanni e Paolo de Rome.JPG
Rome Italy 398 Roman Catholic A 4th-century basilica was erected on the site of one of the most well-preserved "house churches" of early Christianity (dating from the 1st, 2nd or 3rd century), with intact fresco decoration.[28] The houses are part of a museum currently, but the basilica still functions as a church.
Basilica di Sant'Eustorgio ruins
Side view of Saint Eustorgius Church in Milan.jpg
Milan Italy c. 4th century Roman Catholic Some ruins remain of the apse of the ancient basilica.
Church of St. George
Sofia Bulgaria 4th century Bulgarian Orthodox Built by the Romans with many later additions, St. George is the oldest building in Sofia and the only one dating from the Roman era. Still a functioning church.[29]
Aula Palatina (Konstantinbasilika)
Konstantinbasilika Trier 2016.jpg
Trier Germany 4th century Evangelical Church in the Rhineland A Roman palace basilica that was built by the Emperor Constantine at the beginning of the 4th century. The basilica contains the largest extant hall from antiquity. The church was converted to Protestant use from its original Roman Catholic use in 1856.[30]
Santi Nereo e Achilleo
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Rome Italy 4th century Roman Catholic Adjoins the Baths of Caracalla at the site where St. Peter is said to have dropped the cloth covering his wounds upon his removal from the Mamertine Prison. First referenced in 336, a 15th-century basilica sits on its original site; only the columns are original.[31]
Santa Pudenziana
Apsis mosaic, Santa Pudenziana, Rome photo Sixtus enhanced TTaylor.jpg
Rome Italy 4th century Roman Catholic Retains original and unique late Roman mosaic decoration.[32]
San Clemente al Laterano
Alexius of Rome saint clemente.jpg
Rome Italy 4th century Roman Catholic The present basilica was built just before the year 1100, but beneath it is an intact 4th-century basilica that had been converted out of the home of a Roman nobleman, part of which had in the 1st century briefly served as an early church. This ancient basilica retains fresco decoration (see image). The basement the house had in the 2nd century briefly served as a mithraeum. The home of the Roman nobleman had been built on the foundations of a republican era building that had been destroyed in the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD.
Santa Costanza
Santa Costanza - vista dalla basilica costantiniana.jpg
Rome Italy 4th century Roman Catholic Built under Constantine as a mausoleum for his daughter, Costanza. Retains many original mosaic decorations, and her porphyry sarcophagus is a gem of the Vatican Museum.
Santi Quattro Coronati
Santi Quattro 0511-13 cortile interno.JPG
Rome Italy 4th century Roman Catholic Sanctuary is located in an isolated green area of Rome, so it retains the ambience of the area in antiquity.
  • Valkum (Fenekpuszta) Built before 433 AD remains of a Bazilika in Hungary near lake Balaton

Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages[edit]

Church buildings dating to between the 5th and 10th centuries.


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Saint Catherine's Monastery
Katharinenkloster Sinai BW 2.jpg
Sinai Peninsula Egypt 548 AD Greek Orthodox Built by Emperor Justinian surrounding St. Helen's Chapel of the Burning Bush. One of the Monasteries was converted into a Mosque by the Fatimid Caliphs in the 10th century and remained in popular use till the 13th century. The Mosque was restored in the 20th century and continues to be used in special occasions.
Church of the Virgin Mary in Haret Zuweila
Katharinenkloster Sinai BW 2.jpg
Sinai Peninsula Egypt 10th Century AD Coptic Orthodox Served as the See of St. Mark, and the Seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria from 1400 to 1520. Later a Nun's Convent was added to it in the 19th Century.
Monastery of Saint Paul the Anchorite
Eastern Desert Egypt 560 AD Coptic Orthodox Partially destroyed in the 15th century and rebuilt; was abandoned in the 16th century, but was later repopulated by Monks from St. Antony's monastery early in the 17th century.
Church of Saint Menas
Cairo Egypt 6th century AD Coptic Orthodox Built in honor of the Saint and Martyr, the Church was built within what later was renamed "Cairo". The Church was renovated in the 8th century, and the body of Saint Mena which had been in the ruins of the Abu Mena Complex in Mariout was moved there. The body remained there until a modern Monastery bearing the Saint's name was built adjacent to the ruins, in 1967 the body was moved to the new Monastery. The Church remains open to this day and is a prominent pilgrimage and tourist center in Cairo.
Debre Damo
Debre Damo Church.jpg
Tigray Region Ethiopia 6th century Ethiopian Orthodox The best preserved example of Aksumite Architecture.


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Monastery of Stoudios
One of the exterior facades of the St. John Stoudios (Imrahor) Monastery.jpg
Istanbul Turkey 462 Greek Orthodox No longer a functioning church, and was a mosque until it fell into ruin. As with many other archaeological sites in Turkey, plans to revert the ruins back into a mosque are underway.[33]
Qalb Loze
Qalb Loze Syria 5th century Assyrian Church The church at Qalb Lozeh dates back to the 460s AD and is one of the best-preserved churches of this period in the region. The church is the first known in Syria with the wide basilica, where the columns that in traditional Byzantine church architecture separate the aisles from the nave have been replaced with low piers and soaring arches that create the feeling of expanded space.
Church of Saint Simeon Stylites (Deir Semaan) Aleppo Syria 475 Greek Orthodox No longer a functioning church, but walls still standing.
Bolnisi Sioni
Болнисский сион.jpg
Bolnisi Georgia 479–493 Georgian Orthodox The oldest extant church building in Georgia.
Turmanin Basilica
Church of Turmanin.png
Turmanin Syria 480 Early Church The basilica, which is currently in ruins, served as a monastery and hospice.[34]
Etchmiadzin Cathedral
Էջմիածնի Մայր Տաճար.jpg
Vagharshapat Armenia 483 Armenian Apostolic The current building was erected 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.
Mor Hananyo Monastery
Mardin Turkey 493 Syriac Orthodox It was founded in 493 by Mor Shlemon on the site of a temple dedicated to the Assyrian sun god Shamash that was converted into a citadel by the Romans. After the Romans withdrew from the fortress, it was transformed it into a monastery. Better known as Saffron Monastery. (Deir-ul-Zafran)
Little Hagia Sophia
Sergius and Bacchus Church February 2011.JPG
Istanbul Turkey 527 Greek Orthodox A former Eastern Orthodox church dedicated to Saints Sergius and Bacchus in Constantinople, converted into a mosque during the Ottoman Empire. This Byzantine building with a central dome plan was erected in the 6th century by Justinian, likely was a model for Hagia Sophia, and is one of the most important early Byzantine buildings in Istanbul. Poorly executed restorations leave the church with a modern character.[35]
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia exterior 2007 002.jpg
Istanbul Turkey 532–537 Greek Orthodox For almost 1,000 years it was the largest church in Christendom, the main center of worship for the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the jewel of Constantinople. In 1453, it was captured and converted into a mosque, becoming a museum in 1932 under Atatürk.
Saint Catherine's Monastery
Katharinenkloster Sinai BW 2.jpg
Saint Catherine Egypt c. 550 Greek Orthodox Oldest functioning Christian monastery in the world. First chapel on the site established by Saint Helena over the burning bush seen by Moses. Later emperor Justinian established a monastery on the spot which composes most of the modern structure, although the original chapel survives as it was incorporated into the central basilica, as well as a tower which is now the Chapel of the Life-giving Spring.
Dranda Cathedral
Dranda cathedral.jpg
Dranda Abkhazia/Georgia c. 550–600 Georgian Orthodox The oldest church building in Abkhazia, still functioning as a church.
Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity (Bethlehem, 2008).jpg
Bethlehem West Bank c. 565 Simultaneum One of the oldest church buildings in the world which has continuously functioned as a church.
Jvari (monastery)
Jvari monastery, outside Mtsketa.jpg
Mtskheta Georgia 590–604 Georgian Orthodox A World Heritage Site.


Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
San Vitale
San Vitale 051112-20.JPG
Rome Italy 400 Roman Catholic Although it was restored several times, the church retains its original structure and walls; it actually sits below street level due to its age and relative lack of major structural renovations. The portico is one of the most ancient parts of the church.
Santa Sabina
Rom, Basilika Santa Sabina, Außenansicht.jpg
Rome Italy 422 Roman Catholic Mostly unaltered, with some original mosaic decoration and agate window treatments. Notably, wooden doors date from around the same era and contain an early depiction of the crucifixion.
San Giovanni Evangelista
Ravenna 1978 037.jpg
Ravenna Italy 424 Roman Catholic Partially original walls, with original floors and columns under layers of new floors.
Santa Maria Maggiore
SantaMariaMaggiore front.jpg
Rome Italy 432 Roman Catholic Features intact original mosaic decoration, including some of the oldest depictions of the Virgin Mary. 18th-century façade covers 12th-century façade which replaced the original.
Church of the Acheiropoietos
Church of the Acheiropoietos.JPG
Thessaloniki Greece 450–470 Greek Orthodox The Acheiropoietos has been dated from its bricks and mosaics to c. 450–470, making it perhaps the earliest of the city's surviving churches. It was modified in the 7th century and again in the 14th and 15th centuries, but retains much of its original character. Known as the Panagia Theotokos in Byzantine times, it is dedicated to Mary.
Santo Stefano Rotondo
Celio - s Stefano Rotondo 1040178-80.JPG
Rome Italy 455 Roman Catholic Believed to be the first church in Rome with a circular plan, inspired by the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
Sant'Agata dei Goti
Sant'Agata dei Goti (Rome) - Interior.jpg
Rome Italy 460 Roman Catholic Built for the Arian Goths by Ricimer, this ancient church retains its original site plan and columns, despite many restorations.
Stenče Basilica Polog Valley Macedonia 420–465 Early Church To date remains of 16 early Christian basilicas have been revealed in the Polog Valley, of which 12 in Tetovo area and 4 in Gostivar area, and best has been investigated the one in Stenče dating from the 5th century AD, which is unique in Macedonia with 3 baptisteries.
Santa Prisca
Santa Prisca-facciata-antmoose.jpg
Rome Italy 4th or 5th century Roman Catholic In the interior, the columns are the only visible remains of the ancient church after a 17th-century restoration, but the floor plan remains. A baptismal font allegedly used by Saint Peter is also conserved.
Basilica di San Vitale
Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna, Italy.jpg
Ravenna Italy 547 Roman Catholic The best-preserved basilica from the time of Justinian I, filled with outstanding Byzantine mosaics in an excellent state of preservation.
Basilica of Saint Servatius
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Maastricht Netherlands c. 550 Roman Catholic The oldest church in the Netherlands. There was a small memorial chapel on the site dedicated to the Saint Servatius (310–384), who became the first bishop of Maastricht, and this was later replaced by a larger stone church, incorporating the ancient stone.
Dormition of the Theotokos Church, Labovë e Kryqit
Labova e Kryqit3.jpg
Gjirokastër Albania 6th century Eastern Orthodox The Dormition of the Theotokos Church (Albanian: Kisha e Shën Mërisë) is a church in Labovë e Kryqit, Gjirokastër County, Albania. The foundation on the structure dates from 6th, with the rest from 13th. It is a Cultural Monument of Albania.[36] The present building dates from the 13th century.[37]
St. Martin's Church
Canterbury St Martin close.jpg
Canterbury United Kingdom 597 Anglican The oldest church building in England, still functioning as a church.
Church of Saint Apostles Peter and Paul
Stari Ras, Novi Pazar Serbia 6th century Serbian Orthodox Also known as Peter's Church (Serbian: Петрова црква / Petrova crkva), it is a Serbian Orthodox church, the oldest intact church in Serbia. It is 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. The foundations of the structure date from the 6th century, with the rest from the 7th, 9th, and 12th centuries.[38]
Saint Sofia Church
Basilica of Hagia Sofia, Bulgaria.jpg
Sofia Bulgaria 6th century Bulgarian Orthodox The church was built near the Amphitheatre of Serdica. 343 in the building took place the Council of Serdica that was attended by 316 bishops. The current building is from the 6th century
Church of St John the Baptist, Kerch
Kerch ChurchOfStJohn.jpg
Kerch Ukraine 717 Ukrainian Orthodox Founded in 717, later rebuilt on several occasions.
Aachen Cathedral
Aachen Germany Imperial-Cathedral-01.jpg
Aachen Germany 805 Roman Catholic It is the oldest cathedral in northern Europe and was constructed by order of the emperor Charlemagne, who was buried there after his death in 814.
Church of St. Margaret of Antioch
Kopčany kostol - sever.JPG
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
Pieve San Pietro in Trento 1.JPG
Ravenna Italy c. 977 Roman Catholic Facade restored, but very much intact. Constructed by Galla Placidia.

High to Late Middle Ages[edit]

A selection of notable, extant 11th- to 14th-century churches.

Building Image Location Country Oldest Part Denomination Notes
Church of Our Lady Vor Frue Kirke Århus.jpg Aarhus Denmark 1060 Lutheran An older wooden church was on the site in the 10th century. The crypt of the church is the oldest extant stone church in Scandinavia. It is still functioning as a church.
Cathedral of Pisa Pisa.Dom.pano01.jpg Pisa Italy 1063 Roman Catholic Built on the foundations of an older church. Dedicated to the Assumption of St. Mary, it is a Primatial church.
St. Michael's Church St. Michael's Church Vienna 1.jpg Vienna Austria 1220–1240 Roman Catholic One of the oldest churches in Vienna, Austria, and also one of its few remaining Romanesque buildings. Dedicated to the Archangel Michael, St. Michael's Church is located at Michaelerplatz across from St. Michael's Gate at the Hofburg Palace.

Early Modern[edit]

Notable early churches built in the New World between the 15th and 19th centuries. Listed are especially the oldest extant church buildings by country.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "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. 
  2. ^ a b Silver, Carly (11 August 2010). "Dura-Europos: Crossroad of Cultures". Archaeology. Retrieved 16 November 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Rose, Mark. "Early Church at Aqaba". Retrieved 31 January 2014. 
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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... 
  10. ^ J.L. Teicher, "Ancient Eucharistic Prayers in Hebrew (Dura-Europos Parchment D. Pg. 25)", The Jewish Quarterly Review New Series 54.2 (October 1963), pp. 99–109
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