The oldest house in Europe. Italy in the lead? The answer depends on the criteria used

Where is the oldest house in Europe? It depends…

Where is the oldest house in Europe? It depends on what we mean by house. Yes, it is not a mistake: man has always sought refuge for himself. At first they were given by natural products – it is no coincidence that many remains of people who lived thousands of years ago are found in caves. Can we say that they were the abode of man? When did we start building our own houses? It is difficult to answer that.

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A similar problem can be encountered when it comes to identifying the oldest house in Europe and at the same time in the world. Sassi di Matera, the oldest part of the Italian city carved into the rock, is often described in this way. These shelters were to be inhabited as early as 7000. years BC. Interestingly, the last inhabitants had to move from here after the Second World War. But were they houses in today’s sense?

Sassi of Matera.  Illustrative photoSassi of Matera. Illustrative photo Shutterstock

Also, the Knap of Howar (2500 BC), i.e. the remains of a Neolithic farmhouse in the Orkney Islands, does not fully meet the requirements, as today it is essentially a a certain amount of stones stacked on top of each other. Who knows, maybe only one well-preserved fisherman’s hut in the Faroe Islands, namely Kirkjubøargarður (11th century), deserves the name of the oldest house.

Kirkjub?  Argar?  Born.  Illustrative photoKirkjub? Argar? Born. Illustrative photo Shutterstock

The oldest houses in Europe – list

What is the list of the oldest houses in Europe? The statement is not so obvious and it is quite difficult to create one. Most of the oldest residential houses have been completely rebuilt. Some of them are only at the base of historical buildings.

The most frequently replaced very old buildings in Europe are:

  • Sassi di Matera (Italy) – 7000 BC.
  • Knap of Howar (Orkney Islands, Great Britain) – 3500 BC.
  • Jarlshof (Shetland Islands, Great Britain) – 2500 BC.
  • Mousa Broch (Shetland Islands, Great Britain) – 300 BC.
  • Kirkjubøargarður (Faroe Islands) – 11th century
  • Saltford Manor (Great Britain) – circa 1148
  • House of Joan (France) – 14th century

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The oldest residential buildings in Europe. Ranking and oldest buildings in Poland

What do the buildings of today’s Poland look like in the ranking of the oldest residential buildings in Europe? Unfortunately, we cannot compete with known buildings from Italy, Great Britain or even the Faroe Islands. We are definitely closer to France.

In Poland’s case, however, it was apartment buildings in the largest cities that avoided destruction during many wars, including World War II. Very old buildings in Toruń and Wrocław have been largely rebuilt. Therefore, priority is given to the monuments of Krakow, which for most of the Middle Ages was the most important city in Piast Poland. There is a brick and stone building built on Św. Cross 23. This dates from around 1300 and has been associated with the Church for centuries. Currently, it houses the rectory of the nearby Church of St. Traverser. The building has survived to this day with minor reconstructions.

Building, ul.  St. Krzyża 23, Old Town, KrakowBuilding, ul. St. Krzyża 23, Old Town, Krakow By Zygmunt Put – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=108093362

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The oldest residential buildings in Europe: Kirkjubøargarður

Which of Europe’s oldest residential buildings is of particular interest? Kirkjubøargarður is definitely a highlight of the Faroe Islands. It is a wooden hut, the oldest part of which dates from the 11th century, it is one of the oldest permanently inhabited houses in the world. The hut was made of sea-washed wood (this is probably a Norwegian material). 33 Catholic bishops from the local diocese resided there. Currently there is a museum in Kirkjubøargarður.

See also: Longest River in North America: Mackenzie or Mississippi?

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