The term church has a Greek origin, ekklesia, which means an assembly of people. In today’s context, a church generally refers to a place of Christian worship. Below is a selection of the world's largest churches by square meters.
The Top 3 Largest Churches in the World
Since the inception of Christianity, the faith has grown and evolved into many denominations with a wide variety of shared beliefs and contradictions. Many churches around the world claim to be the world's largest - however, only churches with confirmed measurements make it to this list.
1. St. Peters Basilica (Vatican City) 15,160 m sq
The Papal Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican City is the largest church in the world. Renaissance artists like Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno, and Gian Lorenzo Bernini designed this church. St. Peter's Basilica is also believed to be the burial site of Jesus’s disciple and the “first pope,” Apostle Peter. The church is central to the Catholic faith as it is also the venue where it buries Popes. The Basilica’s dome is very conspicuous in the skies of Rome and both the interior and exterior of the church have complex yet unique architecture in a cruciform shape, which is meant to symbolize the crucifixion of Jesus. This church covers an area of 15,160 squared meters.
2. Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (Aparecida, Brazil) 12,000 m sq
The Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida is in Aparecida, Brazil in the dedication of Our Lady of Aparecida. This church is currently the second largest in the world with an area of 12,000 squared meters. The church also boasts enough parking spaces for 4,000 buses and 6,000 cars.
3. Milan Cathedral (Milan, Italy) 11,700 m sq
The Milan Cathedral is in Milan, Italy and is dedicated to Saint Mary of the Nativity. Milan Cathedral took approximately six centuries to build and fine tune its Gothic architecture. This church is the largest in Italy (as St. Peter's Basilica is technically in the Vatican) and the third largest church globally, covering 11,700 square meters of space.
4. Seville Cathedral (Seville, Spain) 11,520 m sq
The Seville Cathedral, whose full name is Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Sea, is a UNESCO Heritage Site in Seville, Spain. By some measurements, it is considered to be the world's third largest church. There is no official measurement of the church's square footage, but its estimated area of 11,520 square metres puts it just behind the Milan Cathedral. The church is most famous for being the resting place of Christopher Columbus.
5. Cathedral of Saint John the Divine (New York, United States) 11,200 m sq
Located in New York City, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is the largest church in the United States and the fourth largest church in the world. It is considered to be the largest Anglican cathedral in the world. Construction started on the church in 1892. First services were held in 1899. The church is designed in a Gothic Revival style.
6. Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen (Konin, Poland) 10,090 m sq
The Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen is not only one of the world's largest churches, but also one of the world's tallest. The church's tower measures 141.5 metres. Interestingly, the church is the one of the newest constructions to feature on our list, with work having been completed in 2004. The church's construction took ten years to complete.
7. Abbey of Santa Giustina (Padua, Italy) 9,717 m sq
The Abbey of Santa Giustina is a 10th century Abbey found in Padua, Italy. The elaborate church is designed in the shape of a Latin cross.
8. Liverpool Cathedral (Liverpool, United Kingdom) 9,687 m sq
The Liverpool Cathedral is the seat of the Bishop of Liverpool in England. It is the largest church in the United Kingdom, and one of the ten largest churches in the world. Construction of the cathedral took roughly 74 years, from 1904 to 1978. It is also one of the world's longest churches, with a total length of 18.7 metres.
9. Church of the Holy Trinity (Santarem, Portugal) 8,700 m sq
The Church of the Holy Trinity in Santarem, Portugal, is the world's ninth largest, with a total of 8,700 square metres. Construction on the modern church began in 2004 and was completed in 2007. Its architectural design has one awards, including the coveted Outstanding Structure Award from the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.
10. Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls (Rome, Italy) 8,515 m sq
Often called St. Paul's outside the Walls, the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls is a major basilica in Rome, Italy. Although the structure is located completely within Italy, it is actually administered by Vatican City thanks to an agreement between the two countries.
Church Building Trends
Many of the world's largest churches are also important examples of architectural design and history. Though traditionally it is Catholic churches that dominate the list of the world's largest places of worship, there is an upsurge in the number of Protestant ministries building megachurches which consequently may become the world's largest churches in the future.