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 m2
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 m2
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 m2
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.
The 22 Largest Churches in the World
|Rank||Church Area (Square Meters)||Church Name||Location|
|1||15,160||St. Peter's Basilica||Vatican City|
|2||12,000||Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida||Aparecida, Brazil|
|3||11,700||Milan Cathedral||Milan, Italy|
|4||11,520||Seville Cathedral||Seville, Spain|
|5||11,200||Cathedral of Saint John the Divine||New York, United States|
|6||10,186||Milan Cathedral||Milan, Italy|
|7||10,090||Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen||Konin, Poland|
|8||9,717||Abbey of Santa Giustina||Padua, Italy|
|9||9,687||Liverpool Cathedral||Liverpool, United Kingdom|
|10||8,700||Church of the Holy Trinity||Santarem, Portugal|
|11||8,515||Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls||Rome, Italy|
|12||8,318||Basilica-Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar||Zaragoza, Spain|
|13||8,318||Basilica of Our Lady of Pillar||Aragon, Spain|
|14||8,300||Florence Cathedral||Florence, Italy|
|15||8,260||Ulm Minster||Ulm, Germany|
|16||8,167||Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe||Mexico City, Mexico|
|17||8,000||Basilica of the Sacred Heart||Koekelberg, Belgium|
|18||8,000||Cathedral of Our Lady||Antwerp, Belgium|
|19||8,000||Rio de Janeiro Cathedral||Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|20||7,989||Basilica of Our Lady of Peace||Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast|
|21||7,960||Hagia Sophia||Istanbul, Turkey|
|22||7,914||San Petronio Basilica||Bologna, Italy|