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What are the oldest temples in the world? Anyone may have the curiosity to know our ancient connection with culture. As a temple is a structure kept for spiritual or religious acts. Throughout the ages, temples have been built and many new ones are still building.
For example, the Akshardham Temple in New Delhi built in 2008 and the White Temple in Chiang Rai which is still under construction. However, the ancient temples on this list were built millennium years ago by people whose religion and belief system are no longer exist.
Oldest Temples in the World
These temples are the oldest man-made buildings. These are served as an evidence to the gods and deities of different cultures and civilizations.
10. Palace of Knossos
Situated about 5 km (3 miles) south of Heraklion, the Palace of Knossos is the most significant and well known Minoan palace complex in Crete. Between 1700 and 1400 BC the great palace was built, with periodic rebuilding after destruction until it was demolished by fire. This edifice comprised living spaces, reception rooms, workshops, shrines, and storerooms all built around a central square. It is not sure what the main function of the palace was.
It might have been used mainly as an administrative center or a religious center—or both. The legend of the Athenian hero Theseus killing the Minotaur is often linked with Knossos.
- Take the half-day walking tour
- You can also have a private shore excursion around the palace & the archaeological museum
- visit the Throne room and the central court
- explore the Hall of The Double Axes
9. Göbekli Tepe
Often referred as the first temple, Gobekli Tepe is a sanctuary built on a hilltop in southeastern Turkey. The temples are round megalithic buildings while the walls are made of unworked dry stone and numerous T-shaped monolithic pillars of limestone that are up to 3 meters (10 ft) high. The site was constructed by hunter-gatherers in the 10th millennium BC thus making it the oldest human-made place of worship yet found. Göbekli Tepe predates pottery, the invention of writing or the wheel even it was also built before the beginning of agriculture and animal husbandry.
- Visit the new Zeugma Museum
- Enjoy the meat & sweet cuisine of the nearby city
- Explore the crazy sheep street, the lanes fronted with baskets of spices & nuts
8. Temple of Amada
First constructed by Egyptian pharaoh Thutmose III in the 15th century BC, the Temple of Amada is the oldest temple in Nubia. This temple was dedicated to Egyptian deity Amun and Ra. Decoration and altercation were carried out by later pharaohs.
For example, Akhenaten had destroyed the symbol of Amun throughout the temple while Seti I had restored it. The temple is quite small and has crumbling exterior but its interior features some of the most bright and vibrant colored finely cut reliefs.
- Visit carefully the pillars and walls that are decorated with offering scenes
- Find the finest painted reliefs in the innermost section
- Explore the cult room and the sanctuary
7. Ggantija Temples
The Stone Age Ggantija prehistoric temple complex is high on a hill on the island of Gozo. These temples are constructed from 3,600-3,000 BC. You can consider them among the oldest temples in Europe.
The Ggantija temples are the earliest series of megalithic temples in Malta. It pre-dates Egypt’s pyramids and Britain’s Stonehenge by 1,000 years. This is, in fact, two temples, built side by side and enclosed within a boundary wall. Different figurines and statues indicate that the temples were possibly the site of a Fertility cult.
- The large terrace at the front
- Remains of animal bones
- stone hearths
- Take part in Gozo aqua sports
- Full day jeep tour
6. Hagar Qim and Mnajdra
Another megalithic temples in the island of Malta are the complex of Hagar Qim. It is located atop a cliff on the southern edge of the island of Malta. The temple consists of the main temple and three additional megalithic structures beside it.
At Hagar Qim the largest megalith is some 7 meters (23 ft) high and weighs around 20 tons. Hagar Qim consists of three conjoined but not connected temples. The oldest one was built between 3600 and 3200 BC. Artifacts found in the temples suggests that these old temples were used as shrine not as tombs as no human remains were found.
- Visit the National Museum of Archaeology
- Visit the local heritage park
- Explore each of the individual three temples
5. Temple of Seti I
The Temple of Seti I as it was named after Pharaoh Seti I on the west bank of the Nile in Abydos. This was a mortuary temple. The temple was constructed at the end of the reign of Seti and probably completed by his son Ramesses the Great. The temple was dedicated to Seti I along with a number of deities.
The raised reliefs in this temple are some of the finest and most detailed ones. It also contains the Abydos King List. This is a chronological list of many dynastic pharaohs of Egypt from Menes.
- Seven sanctuaries in the inner temple
- Gallery of the Kings
The only prehistoric underground temple in the world is the Hypogeum in Malta. It consists of halls, chambers and passages carved out of a rock. The temple used as a sanctuary but it became a necropolis. The building is grouped in three levels – the upper level (3600-3300 BC), the middle level (3300-3000 BC), and the lower level (3150 -2500 BC). The deepest room in the lower level is 10.6 meters (35 ft) underground. Nowadays only a limited number of visitors are allowed to enter. One has to wait 2-3 weeks to get a ticket.
- Explore the halls, chambers, and passages
- You can visit the nearby Paola Parish Church
- Don’t miss the Tarxien Temples
3. Temple of Hatshepsut
The tomb of Hatshepsut, who ruled Egypt from around 1479 BC, is located under the cliffs at Deir el Bahari on the west bank of the Nile. This mortuary temple is a colonnaded structure, which was designed and implemented by Senemut, the royal architect of Hatshepsut. This was constructed to serve for her posthumous worship and to honor the glory of major deity Amun.
Hatshepsut is built into a cliff face that rises sharply above it and consists of three layered terraces reaching 30 meters (97 ft). These terraces are connected by long ramps. These were once surrounded by gardens.
- chapel of Hathor
- A series of colossal statues
- A central granite doorway
- pillared court with decorated walls
2. Luxor Temple
The Luxor Temple is situated on the east bank of the River Nile in the ancient city of Thebes and was founded in 1400 BC during the New Kingdom (between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC). It was dedicated to the three Egyptian gods Amun, Mut, and Chons. This old temple was the center of the festival of Opet. Opet was Thebes’ most important festival.
At the time of the annual festival, the statues of the three Gods were escorted from Karnak to the temple of Luxor along the avenue of sphinxes that connect the 2 temples. This festival lasted 11 days during the 18th Dynasty but had increased to 27 days at the reign of Ramesses III. Holidays in Luxor are extremely popular with tourists visiting Egypt today.
- Temple of Karnak
- Valley of the Kings
- Visit the Luxor Museum
- Explore Medinet Habu
- Tombs of the Nobles
Stonehenge is composed of earthworks surrounding a circular setting of large standing stones in south-west England. It is regarded as one of the most famous sites in the world, it was constructed by a culture that left no written records. So many aspects of Stonehenge remain under debate. The Iconic stone monument was built around 2500 BC while the last known construction at Stonehenge was about 1600 BC as the evidence indicate.
The gigantic stones might have come from a quarry, around 40 kilometers (25 mi) north of Stonehenge on the Marlborough Downs. As any written documents were not found a little information can be known. Nowadays, it is a popular tourist attraction in England.
- Salisbury Cathedral
- You must visit the Old City Center
- explore The Salisbury Museum
- walk through the Larmer Tree Gardens