Excluding tombs like the Great Pyramids, which is the oldest building in the wordl which is in continious use till today? I had thought about Newgrange but apparently it was sealed for centuries. Google seems to suggest the Pantheon in Athens.
I am willing to accept modifications to the structure including major (but not complete) rebuilds as well as changes to the use over time (a military fort, a royal residence, a castle, a prison, barracks etc). And it has to be a building, not just works or fortifications (a castle fine, the Great Wall, not so much).
It’s probably not the oldest, but as a benchmark the Pantheon in Rome has been in continuous use as a church or temple since it was built in about 126 CE. Aside from being closed for repairs, I don’t think it’s ever been out of use, and it still retains the bulk of its original appearance, despite additions. And it’s still in continuous use as a Catholic church. So that’s almost 1900 years of continuous use.
Actually, the Pantheon might be the winner. The Maison Carre is older, having been built circa 16 BC. It’s the best really complete temple from the classical world that still exists, and it was turned into a Church, too. It still functions as a museum (I’ve seen it), but has been extensively restored many times over the years. It barely edges out the Pantheon in age, salthough the Pantheon has, I think, more of its original parts and is in its original use (arguably).
Julius Caesar started building it; it was first used for performances in 17BC, finished 12BC, used variously as a theatre, then fortress, then residences. When I was in Rome the tourist propaganda touted it as the oldest continuously-used, continuously-inhabited building in the world.
Rome has several early churches that go back to the 300s; IIRC at least some of those are substantially the same building that they were when founded in 314 or so, shortly after the Edict of Milan. In addition, I can think of at least one other and much older structure, the Mamertine Prison which was also converted to a Christian shrine because St. Peter was thought to have been imprisoned there.
As a matter of fact, I can’t think of any other city in Europe, or possibly anywhere, in which you find so many buildings that have been used for a thousand years or more.
I know I specified the Great Wall as being excluded, but it got me thinking, its not all fortifications is it? There have to be some large buildings (barracks, command posts, castles) along it. Maybe they could have still be in use until recently. Also,there are several Roman era forts in Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria which I know were in use centuries after. Wonder if any is still in use today.
Not the question asked, but one of those “Holy Shit!” incidents nonethelesw – a few years ago I was involved in a discussion over on Christian Forums with a member of the Greek Orthodox church in Thessalonika – not that there isn’t more than one, but this is the one founded by St. Paui, to whom he wrote the letters to the Thessalonians. Obviously it’s changed building structure and location a number of times in 19.5 centuries, but it’s maintained continuous existence as an institution of clergy and congregation through all that time.
My gut instinct tells me that there could be several temples in China that had been in continuous use for thousands of years.
I managed to dig up the Confucious Temple in Qufu, supposedly built at his residence and informally set as a temple around 478 BC. Of course, through the years, it has been ransacked, destroyed, devastated, expanded, refurbished, renovated until its current state today. How much of the original remained I’m not sure!
I would say during the Cultural Revolution, many of these old buildings were destroyed, so unfortunately, a lot of heritage was lost.
After I posted my reply, I reflected on the responses in this thread, and I observed that the oldest buildings are usually places of worship. Humans are quite a superstitious culture!
Anyway, hence, is it reasonable to think that in order to look for the oldest building in the world, it could be ‘a race’ of looking at the oldest religion in the world (that is still practised today)? (OT: reminds me of Civilization 4)
I would assume it would likely be a Jewish, Hindu, Taoist or Buddhist Temple.
Yes I know the difference having been to both, but it was a typo. I say the Parthenon, because although it was sacked, the I believe the Turks used it as a magazine (and a Venitian bombardment did most of the damage to it).