Chances are you’ve already seen quite a few old buildings on your travels. Certainly, if you’ve cruised before, you’ll have visited a number of cities with their fair share of historic buildings but how old were they really? If visiting some of the very oldest buildings in the world is something which interests you, then here’s my look at six true elder statesmen of the structural world that you can visit while on a cruise, listed newest to oldest.
Pyramid of Djoser – Egypt
Obviously, you’re spoiled for choice in Egypt when it comes to pyramids, but this is the oldest one, which dates back to 2667-2648BC. It’s an ancient burial chamber and the earliest large-scale cut stone construction in the world. To see it, you’ll need to book a Middle East cruise and find an excursion which will take you to the Saqqara necropolis, near the city of Memphis.
Monte d’Accoddi – Italy
Some historians believe that this historic archaeological site was an open-air temple, a megalithic structure dating back as far as 2,700BC, but with some older parts dating back even further to as far as 4,000BC. To visit it, you’ll need to book a Mediterranean cruise which calls at the Sardinian port of Porto Torres and book an excursion to the site.
Tarxian Temples – Malta
Leading archaeologist Colin Renfrew described the temples as “The oldest free-standing monuments in the world”. Dating back to 3100BC, they comprise part of Malta’s World Heritage site of Megalithic Temples and consist of three separate temple structures which are nevertheless attached. To see them, you’ll need to book a cruise which calls at Malta’s capital Valletta and book an excursion from there.
La Hougue Bie – Jersey
This 18.6 metre passage chamber is actually a Neolithic grave which dates back to 3500BC. It’s easy to spot because of the medieval chapel which has since been built atop it, but which looks positively youthful by comparison. There’s a museum there too, to help give you some perspective and information when you visit. Even if your cruise ship does not offer tours to the site, Jersey is very small, making it quite easy to reach, so just book a British Isles cruise which calls the island.
Sechin Bajo – Peru
Peru certainly has its fair share of historic structures which date back to the times of the Incans and the Mayans but this is the very oldest and is believed to be one of the oldest buildings in the world. It’s certainly the oldest known building in the Americas and is in fact a Plaza dating to around 3500BC. The site lies around 200 miles away from Lima, so realistically you’ll only be able to book an excursion to the site if you’re in Peru’s capital on a South American cruise and stay.
Knap of Howar – Scotland
Dating back to 3700BC, this is the oldest structure on the list. It’s a Neolithic farmstead which some believe is the oldest preserved stone house in North West Europe and can be found on the island of Papa Westray in Orkney, in Scotland. Radio carbon dating shows that it was occupied for around 900 years. They don’t build them like that anymore! You’ll need to book a British Isles cruise which calls at Orkney if you want to visit the site.
By Simon Brotherton