The world is filled with ancient, beautiful monuments. Some of these ancient structures are still primarily intact, while others are ruins which are now being excavated by archaeologists and studied by historians. Here are some of the oldest monuments in the world which are still (at least partially) standing.
Also known as the Basilica of Constantine, Aula Palatina is a Roman basilica built by the emperor Constantine in 310 A.D. Located in Trier, Germany, it is still in use and is known as the Church of the Redeemer. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
St. Michael’s Church
Located in Southampton, England, this is the city’s oldest building still in use. The church was founded in 1070 opposite the Tudor House Museum. Many of the other old buildings in the city were destroyed during WWII, but St. Michael’s was spared and is still standing nearly a thousand years after construction.
Yu Aw Synagogue
The Yu Aw Synagogue is within the city of Herat, Afghanistan, in an area that was once known as “Neighborhood of the Jews.” It is still standing, although it is slowly falling apart. Built in 1393, parts of the building are now used as family housing. The synagogue is one of the oldest in Afghanistan.
An ancient manor in Wales, Pentre Ifan is a monument located in the civil parish of Nevern, Pembrokeshire. It was originally a burial ground, dating back to approximately 3500 B.C. There are seven principal stones standing, with the largest being 16 feet long, 7.9 feet wide, and three feet thick.
This archaeological site has ruins dating from 3500 B.C. to 1300 B.C. It is located in the valley of the Sechin River in Peru. It contains some of the oldest ruins found in the Americas. The ruins of three monumental constructions can be found at Sechin Bajo, the oldest of which is a plaza radio carbon dated to 3500 B.C.
Built in the 11th century, this Norman castle was built in order to control a route between London and the Midlands during the Norman invasion. It was owned by Robert of Mortain, William the Conqueror’s brother. It is no longer fit for in habitation, but the ruins are open to the public as a tourist attraction operated by English Heritage.
Built in 782 A.D. during China’s Tang Dynasty, the Great Buddha Hall of the Buddhist Nanchan Temple is China’s oldest preserved timber building extant. This archaeological site also has a set of Tang sculptures which are centuries old. The temple can be found in Wutaishan, Shanxi Province in China.
Ggantija can be found on the island of Gozo in the Mediterranean. The Ggantija temples are the oldest of Malta’s Megalithic Temples and are even older than the pyramids of Egypt. They were constructed during the Neolithic period. They were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1980 and are also known as the Megalithic Temples of Malta.
Also known as the Great Mosque or the al-Kabir mosque, the Atiq Mosque is located in eastern Libya. Built in the 12th century, it is the oldest Mosque in the region. It features unusual domes made of mud brick and limestone. The mosque was restored in the 1980s in order to preserve it for future generations.
Knap of Howar
One of the oldest stone houses in northern Europe, this Neolithic farmstead was occupied from 3700 B.C. to 2800 B.C. It can be found on the island of Papa Westray in Orkney, Scotland. It consists of two buildings with low doorways. The stone furniture used by the original inhabitants is still intact.
Fakr ad-Din Mosque
This is the oldest mosque in Somalia, built near Hamar Weyne, the oldest part of the city of Mogadishu. It was built in 1269 by Fakr ad-Din, the first Sultan of the Sultanate of Mogadishu. The mosque is built of stone and features Indian marble and coral.
Chapel of St Peter-on-the-Wall
One of the oldest churches in England, this chapel is the also the 19th oldest building in the country. Built between 660 and 662 A.D. the church is still in use today. The building was restored in 1920, building off of the original centuries-old structure.
This Buddhist temple is one of the oldest wooden buildings in the world. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temple serves as a seminary and a monastery and was once one of the Seven Great Temples located in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. It was completed in 607 A.D.
La Hougue Bie
This historic site is found on the island of Jersey, off the coast of Normandy, France. It is a passage chamber covered by an earth mound and was used as a grave site. The site was used as a lookout point during WWII and housed an underground command bunker, helping protect Jersey from the Germans.
This synagogue was built on an older synagogue and dates back 833 A.D. It is one of the oldest in the world and can be found in Sidon, Lebanon. While almost completely standing, the synagogue is quickly deteriorating, which can be partially attributed to the number of Jews who have left Sidon since the Lebanese Civil War. Since they’ve left, there have been less people around to keep it intact.
This complex featuring ziggurat is located in the Khuzestan province of Iran. It was built in 1250 to honor the god Inshushinak. It consists of several temples as well as royal tombs. The ziggurat is one of the best preserved in the world and one of the few existing examples of this type of architecture outside of Mesopotamia.
Naveta d’Es Tudons
This stone structure was used as a tomb and came be found on the island of Minorca off the coast of Spain. It is one of the main tourist attractions of the area. It was used between 1200 and 760 B.C. When it was excavated, the remains of at least 100 skeletons were found.
This archaeological site houses the remains of a small farming village inhabited in approximately 6500 B.C. Discovered in 1974, the settlement has been an important archaeological find. Many artifacts have been found here, including examples of early pottery.
Treasury of Atreus
This tomb was constructed in approximately 1250 during the Bronze Age. It is also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon and is located in Mycenae, Greece on the Panagitsa Hill. It once featured the tallest and widest dome in the world.
Kazimar Big Mosque
This Indian Mosque was founded by Hazrat Kazi Syed Tajuddin, a descendant of the prophet Muhammad. It was the first mosque built in Madurai, a city in India. Built in the 13th century, the mosque is still in use and accommodates up to 2,500 people. There is a school in the mosque which teaches students Arabic.
This neolithic settlement is older than the Great Pyramids of Egypt and Stonehenge. Nicknamed the “Scottish Pompeii” because of how well preserved it is, the Skara Brae settlement consists of eight clustered houses which have stood since approximately 3180 B.C. The settlement is located on the Bay of Skaill off the coast of Scotland.
Great Mosque of Xi’an
The largest mosque in China, the Great Mosque of Xi’an was built during the early Ming Dynasty approximately 600 years ago. It is also known as the Huajue Mosque and is a major tourist attraction. In addition to being a popular destination, the mosque is still in use today by Chinese Muslims.
Also known as Dun Aengus, this is the most famous of a gathering of prehistoric hill forts in Ireland’s Aran Islands. It is commonly believed that most of the structures of Dun Aonghasa were built during the Bronze Age and Iron Age. The walls of the fort have been rebuilt and a museum has been built on the site.
Dolmen de Bagneux
Located in the city of Saumur, France, Dolmen de Bagneux is the largest single-chamber megalithic tomb (known as a dolmen) on the continent of Europe. There are approximately 4,500 dolmens spread throughout France, and this is the grandest of such structures. It is estimated to be around 5,000 years old.
This archaeological site is in the western India state of Gujarat. It contains the ruins of an ancient Indus Valley Civilization city and the most prominent archaeological site in India of its kind. Once the grandest city of its time, the ruins were last occupied in around 1450 B.C. The site is currently being excavated.
This farm located in the Faroe islands is one of the oldest inhabited wooden houses in the world, dating back to the 11th century. It has been occupied by the Patursson family since 1550, in addition to being a museum. The farm has animals and sells fresh coffee, mutton, and beef.
Mundeshwari Devi Temple
The Mundeshwari Devi Temple is in the state of Bihar in India’s Mundeshwari Hills. Dedicated to Lord Shiva and Shakti, it is the oldest functional temple in the world in addition to being one of Bihar’s oldest temples. The temple dates back to approximately 108 A.D. It is built of stone and is visited each year by pilgrims.
This Bronze Age settlement is located in Sistan and Baluchistan Province in Iran. It is on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. Nicknamed the Burnt City, this archaeological site is a bit of a mystery to historians who do not know much about the people who lived her or how they lived, but they do know it was one of the largest cities at the beginning of the urban era.
Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
The Tomb of Kazanlak is part of a large Thracian necropolis in central Bulgaria. The corridor and burial chamber are decorated with murals. It was built in the year 4 B.C. The paintings in the tomb are some of Bulgaria’s best-preserved pieces of art from the Hellenistic period. It isn’t open to the public, but a replica was built nearby in order to preserve these beautiful works of art.
This archaeological complex was listed as a UNESCO Heritage Site. They are Megalithic temples located on the island of Malta and date back to approximately 3150 B.C. There are three separate temple structures featuring intricate stonework. The temples were used for rituals, likely including animal sacrifice.
Unstan Chambered Cairn
The Unstan Chambered Cairn is a tomb located near Stromness on Mainland, Orkney, Scotland. It is particularly well preserved, consisting of five chambers. Experts guess that it was built sometime between 3400 and 2800 B.C. The tomb is filled with bowls made of a distinctive style of pottery.
Built shortly after the early inhabitants of Britain turned to agriculture, Wayland’s smith is a Neolithic long barrow and chamber tomb near Uffington Castle in Oxfordshire, England. It features a house and a burial tomb. The locals tell legends about the smithy, and it is common for tourists to leave coins at the site.
This isn’t technically a monument, but it is Britain’s oldest road. It extends from Wiltshire and extends down along the River Thames, measuring 87 miles long. It has been in use for at least 5,000 years and was a trading route to the Dorset coast and the Wash in Norfolk.
Named after the island on which it is located, the Gavrinis tomb is a monument featuring megalithic art dating back to Neolithic times. The island lies in the Gulf of Morbihan in France. The island is uninhabited by people, although tourists flock to the site to see the grave marked with intricate engravings.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site, Porta Nigra is part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier. It is a Roman city gate found in Trier, Germany. Its construction was completed in 200 A.D. Thanks to reconstruction ordered by Napoleon, the appearance of Porta Nigra is nearly the same as when it was constructed.
Midhowe Chambered Cairn
This large tomb is part of a complex of ancient structures. Used to inter the dead, the cairn was later turned into an ancient garbage dump. It can be found on the island of Rousay, Orkney, Scotland. It features twelve chambers with a passageway in between them.
Standing Stones of Stenness
These standing stones can be found in Orkney, Scotland, and are considered to be one of the oldest groups of standing stones in the British Isles. They are part of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. The stones are approximately one foot thick and 16 feet high. It is designated as a World Heritage Site.
This cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was first founded in 1093, and the additional work has been done on it since then. You may have seen the cathedral before as it was used in the Harry Potter film series as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The building is still in use today and is one of the oldest cathedrals still in use.
The construction of the Pantheon began during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus and was completed in approximately 126 A.D. by the emperor Adrian. Originally a Roman temple, the Pantheon is now a church in Rome. It is one of the best-preserved buildings of Ancient Rome and has been used for centuries.