What is the oldest building or structure in the world that's still in regular use today?

For the sake of the question, I'm not looking for something that still exists purely as a tourist attraction. (Unless the building is closed to the public part time to allow it to serve its purpose. ex: a church that's open to tourists, but still runs regular services.)

  • 5
    Would Stonehenge count?
    – mts
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 18:13
  • 36
    Does the Great Wall of China still defend against Mongol hordes? Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 22:36
  • 2
    @Azor-Ahai it doesn't have to be the original usage. It's still a great tourist attraction of China. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 4:01
  • 2
    Maeshowe, maybe, or Skara Brae or the Ring of Brodgar. They predate Stonehenge by a fair bit and two of them are still used. Skara Brae is now just a tourist site.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 16:40
  • @Azor-Ahai wiki says the great wall goes as far back as seven centuries BCE so why not make that an answer together with some sources? you'll have my +1
    – mts
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 16:46

9 Answers 9


This question is hard to answer since you would have to define "in use" very precisely. Here are some wild guesses:

Further reading:

The accepted answer there is the Pantheon in Rome from 128 A.D. and still a church to day. However the most upvoted answer points to several arenas/theaters still in occasional use.

The Epidaurus Theatre (ca. 300-340 BC), the Delphi theatre (4th century BC) and the Odeon of Herodes Atticus (161 AD) in the Acropolis of Athens (known locally as the the Herodeon), still fulfil their original purpose, all three are constantly used as venues for various festivals. The ancient theatre in Dion is also used occasionally.

  • 4
    There are other stone circles which are probably older than Stonehenge, and also used by neopagans. eg Calanais
    – vclaw
    Commented Jul 11, 2016 at 22:22
  • 25
    Stonehenge is not "still" in use as a place of religious significance; that implies unbroken continuity between its ancient users and its modern ones, which does not exist. The structure was disused for a long time. The current religious use of Stonehenge is a very recent phenomenon with no direct connection to its ancient use. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 3:50
  • 9
    @PaulLegato "Are you still eating that stuff?" "No, I've stopped for a week about a month ago" Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 4:04
  • 6
    @JanDvorak This is especially pertinent to the case of StoneHenge since there, given the timescales. It would be closer to your friend having played when he was 8 then giving up when he was 9, starting again at 30 and you meeting him when he's 31. Anyone answering "Yes I still play the piano," in this example would be very strange.
    – DRF
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 20:13
  • 4
    @DRF: re: continuous use or not: What really matters here is that both versions of the question are interesting, and I'd like to see answers for both. "Still in use for the original purpose" rules out a lot of things that are basically only in use as tourist attractions / museums, which I think is a lot less interesting. I'd also be interested in a list of buildings other than religious buildings and arenas. i.e. are there any other kinds of buildings that have stood the test of time? Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 23:01

The Great Pyramid of Giza initially had two functions, to serve as a tomb for the pharaoh, and to demonstrate his power and prestige. Today, it has two functions, to serve as a tourist attraction and to demonstrate the power and prestige of the pharaohs. It is a structure that has continuously fulfilled one of its functions since 2540 BC.

As far as I know, it is never closed to tourists to fulfill its status symbol function, but it makes quite a good status symbol even while open.

  • 4
    There are several older Pyramids that would probably be technically better answers, but the Pyramids certainly are not unreasonable answers in general for the reasons you state.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 17:45
  • Wouldn't it serve three? Or is it no longer a tomb for the pharoh?
    – mkingsbu
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 18:08
  • 1
    @mkingsbu The whereabouts of Khufu's mummy are currently unknown. If it is in the pyramid, it is well hidden. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:13
  • @Joe I think the Great Pyramid is doing a better job of continued function as a status symbol than e.g. the Bent Pyramid. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 19:15

The Theatre of Epidaurus (4th century BCE!) still has performances. It is not, however, an enclosed building.

  • 3
    And it is considered the top Theater in Greece. Back when things were more serious, it was the ultimate honor for an artist, to perform there.
    – gsamaras
    Commented Jul 19, 2016 at 17:20

The Etchmiadzin Cathedral was built in 301 AD.

The original church was built in the early fourth century—between 301 and 303 according to tradition—by Armenia's patron saint Gregory the Illuminator, following the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by King Tiridates III. It replaced a preexisting temple, symbolizing the conversion from paganism to Christianity. The core of the current building was built in 483/4 by Vahan Mamikonian after the cathedral was severely damaged in a Persian invasion. From its foundation until the second half of the fifth century, Etchmiadzin was the seat of the Catholicos, the supreme head of the Armenian Church.


I have prayed at the Western Wall of The Temple Mount in Jerusalem. My ancestors have been priests there since about the 10th century BC.

enter image description here

  • 1
    The original temple mount does not exist. Commented Dec 22, 2016 at 18:06
  • @hownowbrowncow: The Western Wall where Jews today pray is a first-century BC extension to the original temple floorplan, which is still buried under the Temple Mount, still considered holy, and still in use by Jews today as that is the direction in which we pray.
    – dotancohen
    Commented Feb 5, 2020 at 9:04
  • The Temple Mount as an engineered structure rather than a natural feature only dates to about 19 BC with Herod's expansion.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 31 at 3:11

A lot depends on your definitions of "building", "use", and whether "use" is required to be continuous throughout history. A good candidate is the pantheon in Rome (AD 128). It was a place of pagan worship to start with, became a church when Rome became Christian, and has been in use as a church since then. Amphitheatres and pyramids don't really fit the "walls supporting a roof" definition of "building".

  • 2
    I intentionally didn't specify what I meant by building in the hopes of getting more diverse answers. Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 18:08

The Cave of the Patriachs ( Machpela )in Hebron in Israel is the oldest continuous use building dating back to 40BC . It is a mausoleum used today as a place of prayer . Originally it was built as a cave to bury Abraham’s family . Abraham Isaac and Jacob family are buried there still today . http://en.hebron.org.il/history/669

  • The tone of that linked article is rather breathless, and low on facts. And there are two different structures -- the original natural cave, with likely Bronze Age burials, and the structure built on top of the cave. For more perspectives see israelhayom.com/2021/11/02/… and schechter.edu/…
    – arp
    Commented Feb 6 at 3:24

The cathedral in Syracuse was built as a temple to Athena? around 500BCE, and converted into a church around 500CE

  • Any links to back this up, especially showing that it is still in use today? Thanks.
    – user40521
    Commented Nov 25, 2018 at 22:02
  • According to Wikipedia only some columns from the old temple (5th century BC) exist in the current church; the roof is 11th century and the church was rebuilt in a late-baroque style in the 18th century. The OP doesn't explain how much of the building needs to survive.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jun 23, 2022 at 14:14

Il y a la mosquée d'El Aksa à Jérusalem on y pratique à ce jour la prière.

Google translate:
There is the mosque of El Aksa in Jerusalem we practice prayer there to this day.

  • 1
    Welcome to this site. Note we are an English language site only and all posts need to be in English. (We are happy to help with translations, if asked for.) And only relevant links please, a site about prayers in France or French is not useful here.
    – Willeke
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 12:37
  • It would help if you could edit this to state when the mosque was built.
    – mdewey
    Commented Jan 1, 2021 at 15:09
  • 2
    The current mosque dates back to 1035, almost 900 years newer than the Pantheon, and 1400 years newer than the Epidaurus Theater. Even the original mosque only dates back no further than 634.
    – Mark
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 1:30

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