List of oldest church buildings
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This article lists some but by no means all of the oldest known church buildings in the world. In most instances, buildings listed here were reconstructed numerous times and only fragments of the original buildings have survived. These surviving freestanding buildings were purposely constructed for use by congregations (or used at an early date). The dates are the approximate dates when they were build and/or reconstructed and/or first used by Christian congregations for worship.
The term church may be used in the sense of "Christian denomination" or in the singular as the Christian Church as a whole. The "church" (Greek ekklēsía, 'assembly') is traced to Pentecost and the beginning of the Christian mission in the first century and was not used in reference to a building.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia the Cenacle (the site of the Last Supper) in Jerusalem was the "first Christian church." The Dura-Europos church in Syria is the oldest surviving church building in the world, while the archaeological remains of both the Aqaba Church and the Megiddo church have been considered to be the world's oldest known purpose-built church, erected in the Roman Empire's administrative Diocese of the East in the 3rd century. Several authors have cited the Etchmiadzin Cathedral (Armenia's mother church) as the oldest cathedral.
St. Thaddeus Monastery or Qara Kelisa (meaning 'black church') in Chaldoran County, Iran is also noted by UNESCO World Heritage Centre as related to the 66 AD: "According to Armenian tradition such a location was chosen because saint Thaddeus built the earliest church—parts of which are still believed to be in place as the base of the old section—upon the ruins of the temple." In the 66 AD, he as one of the Apostles and SanDokht (the daughter of the King or daughter of Abbot Simeon) and other Thaddeus' devotees were tortured and executed by Armenia's King Sanatrouk or Sanadruk.