People around the world have several things in common, no matter their individual differences. One of the most profound of these is humanity’s love for religion. But while a little charisma can easily create a massive congregation, it takes a special dedication to build a church that is structurally large. Thus, for both the tourist and the faithful, here is a list of the top ten churches in the world.
10. Belgrade’s Cathedral of Saint Sava
Measuring in at 8,162 square metres (87,855 square feet), the smallest church on our list of biggest churches in the world is already quite impressive. Saint Sava was the founder of the Serbian Orthodox Church, and the cathedral was completed on 26 June, 1989 with the placement of its 4,000 tonne central dome. It currently holds the distinction of being the largest Orthodox church in the world.
9. Zaragoza’s Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar
Spain is well-known for its Roman Catholic heritage, and so it is no surprise that it would be home to one of the biggest churches in the world. Standing majestically along the bank of the Ebro River, this Gothic cathedral measures 8,318 square metres (or 89,534 square feet).
8. Fatima’s Church of the Santissima Trindade
Not to be outdone, Portugal’s Church of the Most Holy Trinity covers a cool 8,700 square metres (93,646 square feet) and features a rather unique architectural style. Completed in 2007, this Roman Catholic gathering spot is the largest church in the nation.
7. Liverpool Cathedral
Liverpool, England has many attractions, not the least of which is the largest Anglican church in all of Europe. At 9,687 square metres (a whopping 104,270 square feet), it dwarfs the previous churches. Beyond its architecture, the cathedral’s famous for the Bartlett Bells, a set of 31-tonne weighted peal bells.
6. Lichen Stary Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen
Oddly enough, one of the biggest churches in the world can be found in one of the smallest places. Home to a mere 1,100 residents, this tiny town in Poland is home to a massive 10,090 square metre (108,608 square foot) behemoth that towers over the rest of the town.
5. Milan’s Duomo di Milano
Not only is Italy’s Milan Cathedral one of the biggest churches in the world, it perhaps holds the record as the longest religious construction project in the world. This 10,186 square metre (or 109,641 square foot) masterpiece began its construction in 1386, but Saint Mary Nascent had to wait until 1965 – nearly 600 years – for her new home to be completed. This unbelievably long effort has resulted in an eclectic blend of styles which is both loved and loathed by architectural critics.
4. New York’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
The largest cathedral in the United States slips into this list of the biggest churches in the world at number four, but only on a technicality. This 11,200 square metre (120,556 square foot) Episcopal church is the largest Anglican church in the world. However, the cathedral is still considered under construction, so it might reach a higher position on this list during the coming century.
3. Seville’s Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See
Spain’s second entry isn’t only one of the biggest churches in the world, it’s also the largest cathedral measuring at an incredible 11,520 square metres (that’s 124,000 square feet)! When it took the title of largest cathedral from Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia in 1520. Having held the title for nearly one thousand years, Hagia Sophia is now a museum, and Seville Cathedral’s only competition is the aforementioned Cathedral of Saint John. Another of Seville’s big attractions is the tomb of Christopher Columbus, one of six tombs within the structure.
2. Aparecida Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
With the longest name out of the top ten biggest churches in the world, Brazil’s monstrous 12,000 square metre (129,167 square foot) basilica is so large that some believe it is bigger than the town itself. The Romanesque building was constructed beside a previous basilica and is officially titled “Our Lady of conception who Appeared”, based upon local tradition that three local fishermen recovered the body and head of a statue of the Virgin Mary in their nets. The basilica’s size in cubic feet nearly ties that of the number one church, which is…
1. Vatican City’s Saint Peter’s Basilica
At an unbelievable 20,139 square metres (216,774 square feet), there is no doubt that Saint Peter’s Basilica has earned its place at the top of the pile in this list of the biggest churches in the world. Oddly enough, while it is the largest church and inhabits Vatican City, it is not the seat of the Roman Catholic Church. According to tradition, the tomb of Saint Peter, apostle and first Pope, is located directly beneath the altar, making this a place of pilgrimage for Catholics across the globe.
While many famous cathedrals such as Notre Dame did not make this list, all of these churches have something to offer besides their size. They’re truly an awesome collection of churches!