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The Largest Churches in the World

The famous St. Peter's Basilica is the largest church in the world.

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

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.

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

RankChurch Area (Square Meters) Church NameLocation
115,160St. Peter's BasilicaVatican City
212,000Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of AparecidaAparecida, Brazil
311,700Milan CathedralMilan, Italy
411,520Seville CathedralSeville, Spain
511,200Cathedral of Saint John the DivineNew York, United States
610,186Milan CathedralMilan, Italy
710,090Basilica of Our Lady of LichenKonin, Poland
89,717Abbey of Santa GiustinaPadua, Italy
99,687Liverpool CathedralLiverpool, United Kingdom
108,700Church of the Holy Trinity Santarem, Portugal
118,515Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the WallsRome, Italy
128,318Basilica-Cathedral of Our Lady of the PillarZaragoza, Spain
138,318Basilica of Our Lady of PillarAragon, Spain
148,300Florence CathedralFlorence, Italy
158,260Ulm MinsterUlm, Germany
168,167Basilica of Our Lady of GuadalupeMexico City, Mexico
178,000Basilica of the Sacred HeartKoekelberg, Belgium
188,000Cathedral of Our LadyAntwerp, Belgium
198,000Rio de Janeiro CathedralRio de Janeiro, Brazil
207,989Basilica of Our Lady of PeaceYamoussoukro, Ivory Coast
217,960Hagia SophiaIstanbul, Turkey
227,914San Petronio BasilicaBologna, Italy

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