Only the recently built retaining wall of the Saint Pierre cave church, carved out of a mountainside in Antakya (Antioch) of St. Peter's ministry, suffered minor damage.
Although many historically sacred places have been reduced to rubble in the powerful earthquakes that struck southern Türkiye early this month, the world's first cave church in Hatay remains largely intact.
Only the recently built retaining wall of the historical church was slightly demolished.
Carved into the side of Mount Staurin in the Antakya region of the Apostle Peter's early ministry around 38-39 CE, the Saint Pierre cave church is recognised as the world’s very first cathedral by UNESCO.
It spans some 9.5 metres wide, 13 metres long, and seven meters high (31 feet by 42 ft. by 23 ft.), and in 2011 was added to UNESCO's Tentative World Heritage List.
The church and its surroundings played a significant role in the early days of Christianity and the spread of this belief. Saint Peter (or Pierre), the head of the first Christian community, is also considered the first pope.
In 1963, Pope Paul VI declared the cave church a pilgrimage site.
READ MORE: Türkiye's historical monuments largely remain unaffected in quake zone
The twin earthquakes caused major devastation in Hatay province.
Anatolia's first mosque, the Habib-i Neccar Mosque, and the Antioch (Antakya) Orthodox Church, which dates to the first century CE, almost completely collapsed.
Antakya is home to various minority groups such as Syriac Orthodox Christians, Syriac Catholics, and Armenians.
The magnitude 7.7 and 7.6 quakes struck 10 other provinces – Adana, Adiyaman, Diyarbakir, Elazig, Gaziantep, Hatay, Kahramanmaras, Kilis, Malatya, Osmaniye, and Sanliurfa.
More than 13 million people have been affected by the deadly quakes.
Several countries in the region, including Syria and Lebanon, also felt the tremors that struck in less than 10 hours.
Over 41,000 people were killed by the twin earthquakes in Türkiye, according to the latest official figures. Over 100,000 more were injured.
READ MORE: Historical Virgin Mary Church in Hatay damaged in earthquake