The designation of oldest Churches in the world requires careful use of definitions, and should be divided into 2 parts. The oldest in the sense of surviving older construction. Older in the sense of congregation of the older Christian church. Even here, there is the distinction between the old church constructions that have been in continuous use as churches.
In terms of congregations, they are differentiated between the first established congregations that have been in continuous existence, and the first congregations that have ceased to exist.
Oldest Churches In The World
10. BASILICA OF THE NATIVITY
The Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem (Palestine) is one of the oldest churches operating continuously in the world. The structure is built on the cave that tradition marks as the birthplace of Jesus of Nazareth, and thus is considered sacred by Christians. The place is also revered by the followers of Islam, as well as being one of the most famous churches in the world .
9. ORTHODOX MONASTERY OF SANTA CATARINA
The Orthodox Monastery of Santa Catarina, Mount Sinai, on the Sinai Peninsula, at the mouth of the gorge at the foot of Mount Sinai. The monastery is Orthodox and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
8. BASILICA OF SAINT SOPHIA
The Hagia Sophia is an ancient Orthodox patriarchal basilica, then a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey. From the date of its consecration in 360 to 1453, it served as the cathedral of Constantinople except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to the Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Patriarch of Constantinople of the Western Crusader established as Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from May 29, 1453 until 1934, when it was secularized. And it was opened as a museum on the first day of February, 1935.
7. CHURCH OF ST. SIMEON STYLITE
The Church of St. Simeon Estilita is a well preserved church dating back to the 5th century, located around 30 km northwest of Aleppo, Syria. It is built in the place of the pillar of St. Simeon Estilite, a famous hermit monk. It is popularly known as Qalat Seman the “Fortress of Simeon”.
6. CATHEDRAL OF TRIER
The Cathedral of Trier is a church in Trier, Germany. It is the oldest cathedral in the country. The construction is notable for its extremely long service life over multiple different eras. And each contributing some elements to its design, including the center of the main chapel being made of Roman bricks placed under the direction of St. Helena, resulting in a cathedral built gradually, rather than rebuilt in different eras. Its dimensions, 112.5 by 41 m, make it the largest church structure in Trier. Since 1986 it has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage.
5. CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DE SIÃO
The Church of St. Mary of Zion of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the most important church in Ethiopia. It is believed that the original church was built during the reign of Ezana, the first Christian emperor of Ethiopia during the 4th century AD, and has been rebuilt several times since.
4. BASILICA OF SAINT-PIERRE-AUX-NONNAINS
This basilica is a historic church building in Metz, France which was built in 380 AD and is one of the oldest churches in Europe. The building was originally developed as part of a Roman spa complex, but the structure was converted into use as a 7th century church becoming the chapel of the Benedictine monastery. A new part was built in the 1000s with new interior renovations. In the 16th century, the building became a warehouse and remained so until the 1970s, when it was restored and opened for concerts and exhibitions.
3. MONASTERY OF SANTO ANTONIO
It is a Coptic Orthodox monastery situated in an oasis in the eastern desert of Egypt. Hidden in the bottom of the Red Sea mountains is located 334 km southeast of Cairo. It is one of the oldest monasteries in the world, and was established by the followers of St. Anthony, who is considered the first ascetic monk.
2. MEGIDDO CHURCH
The Megiddo church in Tel Megiddo, Israel, is one of the oldest church buildings ever discovered by archaeologists, dating to the 3rd century AD In 2005, Israeli archaeologist Yotam Tepper of Tel Aviv University discovered the remains of a church, believed to be of the 3rd century, a time when Christians were still persecuted by the Roman Empire. The remains were found in the Megiddo prison, which is located a few hundred meters south of Tel. Among the findings is a large mosaic measuring approximately 54 square meters, with a Greek inscription stating that the church is consecrated to “God Jesus Christ “. The mosaic is very well preserved and features geometric figures and fish images, a primitive Christian symbol.
1. CHURCH OF DURA EUROPOS
In this selection of the oldest churches in the world, the church of Dura Europos is the oldest identified Christian church. It is located in Dura-Europos in Syria. Excavated largely in the 1920s and 1930s by the French and American teams. Inside the archaeological site, the church is located by the seventeenth tower and preserved by the same defensive completion that saved the nearby synagogue of Dura Europos.