The oldest architectural structures in the world
Such ancient structures have always evoked special feelings, to touch them – as if for a moment to get into those times. It is noteworthy that today there are even preserved samples, the age of which is more than 5 thousand years. Such as Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids are already looked at by many, but even these are not the oldest structures.
Gobekli Tepe Temple Complex, Turkey
This complex was miraculously preserved under a hill, which protected it from complete destruction. It was built about 12 thousand years ago. It does not look as ambitious as Stonehenge, but may surprise at close examination: images of animals carved on the walls.
Pentre Ifan Dolmen, Wales, UK
This dolmen of stones and slabs was built about 6,000 years ago. Researchers believe it to be the remains of a cemetery.
Pyramid of Djoser, Saqqara, Egypt.
Built about 4,700 years ago, the pyramid is considered the oldest extant funerary structures of ancient Egypt. It has 6 steps representing Pharaoh Djoser’s journey to heaven. Some visitors commented that they liked the structure better than the 3 pyramids at Giza.
Sardinian ziggurat, Italy
Built around the end of the fourth millennium BC, but later destroyed and used only for burials. Also damaged during World War II, but still a cult structure of ancient Mesopotamia.
Jgantija Temple Complex, Malta
It consists of two temples, dating from III-IV millennium BC. Enclosed by a wall of huge boulders. It is difficult to imagine how ancient people moved them.
Nape of Howar, Pope Westray, Scotland.
Early to mid 4th century B.C. The stone farmhouse is well preserved inside and out. Some elements of stone furniture are present.
The Ziggurat of Ur, Iraq
The structure dates from 2047 B.C. This is the best preserved temple complex in the region. It was built in honor of the deity Nanna. There is reason to believe that it is a prototype of the Tower of Babel.
Mound of Barnenez, France
4,500 BC Partly demolished half a century ago, the stones were used to pave streets.
Tomb of Cyrus, Pasargadae, Iran
The age of the structure is about 8 thousand years. Tomb of King Cyrus II of Persia was mistaken by the Arab invaders for the tomb of King Solomon’s mother.
Great Stupa, Sanchi, India.
A Buddhist shrine for relics, built about 5,000 years ago. A typical building of that era, there were about 80,000 of them in all.
Parthenon, Athens, Greece
The most famous temple in Athens. Built by the best Greek architects of the era around 440 BC.
Maison Carré, Nîmes, France
In translation the name of the temple means “square house”. The building is remarkably well preserved and today serves as a national museum.
Colosseum, Rome, Italy
Well-known gladiatorial battle arena and amphitheater for 50 thousand people. It would have been in much better condition if not for seismic activity which affected its view. Today the site is safely guarded and restored as much as possible.
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6 Ancient Buildings by Architects that are still perfectly preserved: What Roman Architecture is Famous for
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For centuries Rome ruled the world. Its well-trained and disciplined armies conquered vast territories, contributing to the growth of a vast empire. The multicultural and largely tolerant Roman society attracted immigrants from outside the empire. Both newcomers and Roman citizens-scientists, statesmen, artists, engineers, officials, merchants, and soldiers-played their part in shaping Roman society, culture, art, laws, and economy. Roman architecture is the most visible imprint that this powerful civilization left on the world. Even centuries after the fall of the Roman Empire, impressive ruins and Roman monuments still stand as evidence of its former power and glory.
One of the best-preserved Roman monuments is in the city of Nîmes, in the south of France. This stunning Roman temple, the so-called Maison Carré (Square House), is a textbook example of the classical Roman architecture described by Vitruvius. At about twenty-five meters long and fourteen meters wide, the building must have dominated the forum of the ancient city. The temple’s imposing facade, the sumptuous decorations and elaborate Corinthian columns as well as the internal structure have been preserved to this day in almost pristine condition.
In addition to its high level of preservation, the Maison Carré has an important historical significance. The temple, commissioned by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa in 20 B.C., was originally dedicated to the protective spirit of Emperor Augustus as well as to the goddess Roma. Around 4-7 A.D. the building was rededicated to Agrippa’s sons, Augustus’ grandsons, and adopted heirs, Gaius and Lucius Caesar, who both died young. The Maison Carree is thus one of the first examples of Roman architecture associated with the nascent imperial cult. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the temple continued to be used, serving a variety of functions. It was used as part of a palace complex, consular house, church, and museum.
Temple of Augustus
In modern-day Croatia, in the coastal city of Pula, there is another well-preserved temple that still takes pride of place in the Roman forum. Like its counterpart in Nîmes, the Temple of Augustus was also dedicated to the Emperor Augustus and the Goddess of Rome. However, the inscription (now lost) does not mention the deified Augustus, the honor that was given to the emperor after his death. From this we can conclude that the temple was built during the emperor’s lifetime, between 27 B.C. and 14 A.D.
When the Temple of Augustus was built, it was part of the temple complex erected in the forum. The largest temple, dedicated to the Capitoline triad (Jupiter, Juno and Minerva) stood in the center. On the rightmost side was a twin building dedicated to Diana, goddess of the hunt, moon and nature. Parts of the two now defunct temples were incorporated into the medieval communal palace. Unlike the neighboring buildings, the Temple of Augustus continued to function as a church after the Roman period. In the later period it played the role of a granary. By the nineteenth century, the houses erected on the forum had almost completely hidden the temple. During an air raid in World War II, the temple took a direct hit and was almost completely destroyed. Fortunately, the building was able to be rebuilt from the remaining fragments and now looks as it did at the time of its consecration.
This modest-looking building at the Roman Forum in Rome was one of the most important works of Roman architecture in the world. The Curia Julia, or House of the Senate, was the seat of the Roman Senate, the ruling class of Rome. It was the third and last building to serve such an important function in Rome. Work on the Curia began under Julius Caesar and was completed by his adopted son and the first emperor of Rome, Augustus. Thus, the Julian Curia symbolically marked the end of the Roman Republic.
The Curia Julia, built in 29 B.C. and reconstructed in 94 and 238 A.D., Rome, Italy. Photo: docplayer.rs.
The building that can be seen today is not a completely original structure. It is believed that the Curia Julia may have suffered from the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD during the reign of Emperor Nero. The building was rebuilt by Domitian in A.D. 94, but was destroyed again in a fire in A.D. 238. The final reconstruction was completed under Emperor Diocletian. It is this building that still stands today. This structure was converted into a church in the seventh century, and its transition ensured its survival. While the marble slabs covering the exterior of the building have disappeared, its original porphyry and serpentine floor, the low wide steps that housed the senators’ seats, and the three large windows are still part of the structure.
Tower of Hercules.
Located near the entrance to La Coruña harbor, the Tower of Hercules has served as a lighthouse since it was built in the first century AD. Rebuilt by Emperor Trajan in the second century, the Tower of Hercules played a vital role in maritime navigation for ships bound for the Bay of Biscay and on to the English Channel. In addition to its practical function, the lighthouse had a sacred connection. According to myth, its construction area was the site of one of Hercules’ greatest achievements – his victory over the giant tyrant Herion.
Historically, the building was built on the foundations of a similar Phoenician structure. Its design was probably inspired by Pharos, the Great Lighthouse of Alexandria. Although it fell into disrepair during the Middle Ages, the lighthouse was reintroduced in 1788 when commercial activity with America intensified. The tower was not only repaired, but a new story was added. Today, the Tower of Hercules, nearly fifty-five meters high, is the only Roman lighthouse still in use. It is also the oldest working lighthouse in the world.
Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon, the largest exceptionally well-preserved monument of Roman architecture, is undoubtedly the most famous structure on this list. The original Roman monument, now lost, was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, whose name is still visible on the frieze. When the old building burned down, the Pantheon was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian, who gave it a cult-like form. The Pantheon caused a revolution in Roman architecture because its massive round dome broke with the tradition of a rectangular layout, emphasizing the ornate interior rather than the exterior. The Pantheon’s dome was the largest in the world before the Renaissance. It also remains to this day the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
Traditionally, scholars believed that the Pantheon was built as a temple to all the Roman gods. However, more recent research shows that instead of a traditional temple, the building was a dynastic sanctuary associated with the Emperor Augustus and his family. Later emperors continued to use this building to further legitimize their right to rule the empire. Whatever its original purpose, the Pantheon became primarily associated with the power of the emperors and their divinity. Like most Roman architectural masterpieces, the Pantheon survived the post-Roman period through its conversion into a church. Except for a few minor changes, the building has retained its original form to this day. Its unique design has been the inspiration for many similar buildings built around the world.
The Aula Palatina, an example of late Roman architecture, also known as the Basilica of Constantine, is the best-preserved Roman palace building. Built around 310 AD, the Aula Palatina was originally an integral part of a much larger palace complex, the residence of Emperor Constantine the Great during his stay in Trier. In its original form, several smaller buildings were attached to it, and it would have functioned as an imperial audience hall. The Aula Palatina, sixty-seven meters long and nearly twenty-six meters wide, is the largest surviving single-room structure of antiquity.
A prime example of sumptuous Roman architecture, the Aula Palatina had a floor and wall heating system, the Hypocaust. While the rest of the complex did not survive the effects of Roman rule, the Aula Palatina was repurposed to serve as the residence of the Bishop of Trier. The Roman monument retained this function until the 19th century. During this period the Aula Palatina was returned to its original state, becoming a Protestant church in 1856. During World War II, however, the building was badly damaged in an air raid. The 19th-century interior was never repaired after the war, leaving the brick walls visible from the inside. Today the building recalls its former imperial glory and continues to function as a Christian basilica.