Top 10 Oldest Buildings In the World

Man has been building things for a very long time, as these ten ancient buildings testify.

Top 10 Oldest Buildings In the World
old buildings 1, 2

What are the top ten oldest buildings in the world? A worthy and interesting question, and one we hope to answer faithfully.

As you are about to discover, there have been some very fascinating, and ancient remains discovered around the world. Some of them are so old that they would have been as ancient to the Egyptians as the Pyramids are to us today. 

That is simply mind-blowing.

RELATED: THE 39 GREATEST CONSTRUCTIONS OF GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE IN THE WORLD

Advertisement

What are the oldest buildings in the world?

The following 10 are some of the oldest, if not 'the' oldest buildings in the world. With regards to the definition of a "building", we have chosen to include any site that has clear evidence, irrespective of condition or remaining extent, that it was a large man-made purpose-built thing.

Advertisement

Other similar lists, for example, Wikipedia, would only consider a "building" to tick the following: -

Advertisement
  • must be a recognizable building;
  • must incorporate features of building work from the claimed date to at least 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) in height;
  • must be largely complete or include building work to this height for most of its perimeter.
  • contains an enclosed area with at least one entry point.

We'll let you decide how you would define a building for the purposes of this list.

Advertisement

1. Gobekli Tepe - Circa 8400 BC to 12000 BC

old buildings gobekli tepe
Source: Teomancimit/Wikimedia Commons

Gobekli Tepe, (Go-Beck-Lee-Te-Pee) situated in the South East of Turkey, is officially the oldest, yet discovered, man-made religious structure in the world. Its name means, roughly translated "Potbelly Hill", and can be found roughly 12 km NE of the modern city of Şanlıurfa.

Advertisement

The existing remains of the structure contain more than 200 pillars in around 20 circles. Each of these pillars is about 6 m tall and weighs in excess of 10 tons with many featured basic carvings of animals and other images.

Advertisement

2. Tell Qaramel - Circa 9670 BC to 11000 BC

Tell Qaramel is another old building and one that is commonly believed to be the oldest known tower structure. It is located in Syria, 25 km north of Aleppo. 

Advertisement

The site is a tell, or archaeological mound, located in a fertile river valley that was once very important for trade. Digs on the site have found evidence of an early Neolithic settlement that may have been occupied right up to the Hellenistic period. 

3. Tower of Jericho - Circa 8000 BC

The so-called Tower of Jericho is an 8.5 meter tall stone structure built in the pre-pottery Neolithic period. It, as well as Gobekli Tepe and Tell Qaramel, is one of the oldest yet discovered man-made structures on Earth.

From what can be ascertained about it, it was constructed using undressed stones and had an internal staircase of about 22 steps. It is also roughly conical in form.

4. Catalhoyuk - Circa 5700 BC to 7500 BC

old buildings catalhoyuk
Source: Omar Hoftun/Wikipedia Commons

Catalhoyuk (Chat-Haul-Hoi-Yook) located in Southern Turkey is a very large Neolithic "proto-city" which appears to have been occupied between 7500 and 5700 BC. Since its discovery and extensive excavation, it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The "city" comprises mainly of flat-roofs domestic spaces that were accessed from hatches in the roof. Population estimates for the settlement include around 10,000 people at its height. 

5. Khirokitia - Circa 3000 BC to 5800 BC

old buildings khirokitia
Source: Ophella2/Wikimedia Commons

Khirokitia, sometimes spelled Choirocoitia, meaning "Pig Cradle", is an ancient human structure on the Island of Cyprus. It dates to the Neolithic age and is one of the best preserved prehistoric sites in the world. 

It appears to have been built by some form of an early organized functional society and even included encircling defensive structures. It was first discovered in 1934. 

6. Durankulak - Circa 5000 to 5500 BC

Durankulak, in North Eastern Bulgaria, is a modern-day city with a very long history. Evidence has been uncovered that indicates the settlement first started on a small island in the Neolithic period. 

The archaeological dig found an extensive "prehistoric cult complex" on a nearby island that is about 7,500 years old. Little else, to date, has been uncovered about this ancient mysterious site.

7. Perperikon - Circa 5000 BC

Periperikon, in Bulgaria, is the largest megalith structure in the Balkans. The site has evidence of human activity from as long ago as 5000 BC.

The site has a long history of occupation and has younger structures on site from the Bronze, Early Iron Age and Roman Periods. It is also thought to have once been the home to the famous Temple of Dionysus and was the place where Medokos declared himself King of Thrace in 424 BC. 

8. Barnenez - Circa 4850 BC

old buildings barnenez
Source: NewPapillon/Wikimedia Commons

Barnenez, located in Brittany, France, is an ancient Cairn and one of the oldest man-made structure on Earth. The Cairn measures 72 meters long, 20-25 meters wide and is 9 meters tall.

Internally, it consists of 9 distinct chambers and associated passageways and is set on top of a hill overlooking the English Channel. 

9. Tumulus of Bougon - Circa 4700 BC

The Tumulus of Bougon located int the Bougon region of Western France is a series of five Neolithic barrows. They were discovered in 1873 and it is one of the oldest man-made structures in Europe and the world.

They are thought to be a New Stone Age necropolis and have been extensively studied since their discovery.

10. Saint-Michel Tumulus - Circa 4500 BC

old buildings st michel tumulus
Source: Ji-Elle/Wikimedia Commons

The Saint-Michel Tumulus is another series of five burial mounds located east of Carnac in NW France. It dates to around 4500 BC and is 12 meters high by 125 meters long, and 60 meters wide.

It is the largest grave mound in continental Europe and one of the oldest man-made structures on Earth. 

What was the first building on earth?

It is very likely this question will never be answered with any degree of absolute certainty. After all, if we don't discover it we can't possibly know about it.

But, there have been some very old structures found that are all candidates for the first building on Earth. We have already detailed some of the oldest man-made structures yet discovered, but there are many other candidates.

Is Newgrange the oldest building in the world?

Newgrange, an ancient passage tomb located in the Boyne Valle of Ireland, is one of the world's oldest buildings ever discovered. It is estimated to be around 5,200 years old and was probably built by Stone-Age (about 8700-2000 BC) farmers. 

As you have already seen, there are some man-made structures on Earth that are far older than Newgrange. That being said, it is one of the best-preserved ever discovered. 

What is the oldest man-made structure still standing?

Of all the ancient buildings discovered so far, one of, if not the oldest standing man-made structure is aforementioned Barnenez in France. It is a cairn that dates to around 4850 BC and is incredibly well-preserved for its age.

Advertisement