Churches are some of the most impressive and awe-inspiring buildings in the world. They are often imbued with historical and cultural significance, and many are incredible feats of engineering and architecture.
In this post, we’ll explore the largest churches in the world, learning about their unique histories, architectural features, and more. We’ve ranked the churches based on total interior area, and have listed them in the table below.
|1||St. Peter’s Basilica||15,160 m2 (163,181 ft2)||Vatican City|
|2||Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida||12,000 m2 (129,167 ft2)||Brazil|
|3||Milan Cathedral||11,700 m2 (125,938 ft2)||Italy|
|4||Seville Cathedral||11,500 m2 (123,785 ft2)||Spain|
|5||Cathedral of St. John the Divine||11,241 m2 (120,997 ft2)||United States|
|6||Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen||10,090 m2 (108,608 ft2)||Poland|
|7||Liverpool Cathedral||9,687 m2 (104,270 ft2)||England|
|8||Basilica of the Holy Trinity||8,700 m2 (93,646 ft2)||Portugal|
|9||Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls||8,515 m2 (91,655 ft2)||Italy|
|10||Basilica-Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar||8,318 m2 (89,534 ft2)||Spain|
|11||Florence Cathedral||8,300 m2 (89,340 ft2)||Italy|
|12||Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe||8,167 m2 (87,909 ft2)||Mexico|
|13||Cathedral of Our Lady||8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)||Belgium|
|14||Rio de Janeiro Cathedral||8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)||Brazil|
|15||Basilica of the Sacred Heart||8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)||Belgium|
15. Basilica of the Sacred Heart
Interior area: 8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart may not be the oldest church on this list, but it is one of the largest churches in the world. It stands an incredible 89 meters (292 feet) tall and is located in Brussels, the capital of Belgium.
Construction of the church began in 1905 as a celebration of the 75th anniversary of Belgian Independence, but two world wars delayed its completion until 1970. Today, the church is a popular tourist destination because of its immense size and striking appearance. It was constructed in an Art-Deco and neo-Byzantine style.
14. Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian
Interior area: 8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)
Dedicated to Saint Sebastian, the patron saint of Rio de Janeiro, this very large cathedral manages to appear futuristic and ancient at the same time. The church was constructed in a modernist style by Edgar de Oliveira da Fonseca based on ancient Mayan pyramidal architecture.
Upon its completion, this church replaced the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of the Ancient See, now known as the “Old Cathedral,” as the seat of the Archdiocese in Rio de Janeiro. It is located in the center of the city and has a standing room capacity of 20,000 people.
13. Cathedral of Our Lady
Interior area: 8,000 m2 (86,111 ft2)
Located in Antwerp, Belgium, the Cathedral of Our Lady is the tallest and largest Gothic church in the Benelux, measuring 123 meters (404 feet) in height. There was previously a small chapel built in the 9th century in the same location, and construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady began in 1352.
In addition to its sheer size, a notable feature of the church is the artwork, which attracts many tourists. Some of the most famous pieces are paintings by Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens.
The belfry in this cathedral is listed among the Belfries of Belgium and France as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Although some were attached to churches, these belfries represented growing civic independence from feudal and religious influences in the region.
12. Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Interior area: 8,167 m2 (87,909 ft2)
Located in Mexico City, the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the largest churches in the world and an important Catholic pilgrimage destination. It is the second-most-visited Catholic shrine in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica, drawing millions of visitors each year.
It is believed that the site of the church is where the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego in 1531. Today, the cathedral includes two churches: the Old Basilica, constructed in the 18th century, and the New Basilica, which was completed in 1976.
The New Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe can accommodate 10,000 people and features a circular design. It houses the original cloak of Saint Juan Diego.
11. Florence Cathedral
Interior area: 8,300 m2 (89,340 ft2)
Also called the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Flower, the Florence Cathedral is located in Florence, Italy. The cathedral complex includes the Piazza del Duomo, Baptistery, and Giotto’s Campanile, which are part of the Historic Center of Florence UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was built in a Gothic style, with construction beginning in 1296 and structurally completed in 1436. It was originally designed by Arnolfo di Cambio, and the dome was engineered by Filippo Brunelleschi. The Cathedral’s exterior features a 19th-century Gothic Revival façade by Emilio De Fabris.
The dome of the Cathedral is especially significant as an architectural feat. Although it was constructed hundreds of years ago, it remains the largest masonry dome ever built.
10. Basilica-Cathedral of Our Lady of the Pillar
Interior area: 8,318 m2 (89,534 ft2)
One of the ten largest churches in the world, the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is located in Zaragoza, Spain. In addition to its size, this church is notable for being the first church in history to be dedicated to Mary.
According to local tradition, Mary appeared before Saint James as he was praying along the Ebro River around 40 AD. She gifted him a column of jasper and instructed him to construct a church in her honor at that location.
The first chapel is thought to have been built in the 1st century AD, and construction of the current version of the church began in 1681 by King Charles II of Spain. It was completed in 1686, though final touches were added in 1872.
9. Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Interior area: 8,515 m2 (91,655 ft2)
The Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls was constructed in the 4th century and is dedicated to Paul the Apostle who was thought to have been buried nearby. The church is one of the four major papal Basilicas in Rome, Italy.
Much of the original character of this basilica was retained for more than a thousand years before substantial damage was sustained due to a fire caused by a workman in 1823. Efforts were then made to rebuild the church in the image of its original construction, utilizing materials that survived the fire.
The interior of the basilica features intricate mosaics, frescoes, and marble columns. Also notable are the tomb of the Apostle and the cloister, which was built between 1220 and 1241.
8. Basilica of the Holy Trinity
Interior area: 8,700 m2 (93,646 ft2)
Constructed in commemoration of the apparition of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children in 1917, the Basilica of the Holy Trinity is located in Fatima, Portugal and was completed between 2004-2007. The church is very large, with room for 9,000 people.
The Basilica of the Holy Trinity is architecturally striking, with a modern, austere design in a circular shape. It was given the Outstanding Structure Award by the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering in 2009.
The area around the church has been transformed into a pedestrian zone, which has contributed to its popularity as a Catholic pilgrimage destination. The highest numbers of pilgrims arrive on the anniversaries of the apparitions in May and October.
7. Liverpool Cathedral
Interior area: 9,687 m2 (104,270 ft2)
As one of the largest churches on the planet, Liverpool Cathedral is an iconic landmark in the English city it takes its name from. It was built in the early 20th century, between 1904 and 1978.
The cathedral’s Gothic style was designed by Giles Gilbert Scott, who was the winning participant in a 1901 architecture competition. There were 103 entries and he was 22 years old at the time.
With a length of 188.7 meters (619 feet), this is one of the longest churches in the world. It’s also got an exceptionally tall tower that reaches more than 100 meters.
6. Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen
Interior area: 10,090 m2 (108,608 ft2)
Located in the ninth-largest country in Europe, the Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen in Licheń Stary, Poland is the fourth largest on the continent. This Roman Catholic church is one of the most recently built on this list, completed in 2004. It’s also the first with an interior area greater than 10,000 m2.
The basilica is an important Catholic pilgrimage destination and receives millions of pilgrims each year. The construction of the church was partially funded by donations made by pilgrims.
With a capacity for 7,000 people, the Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen has a large interior, but it’s also one of the tallest churches in the world. The church’s tower is 141.5 meters (464 feet) tall.
5. Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Interior area: 11,241 m2 (120,997 ft2)
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is the largest church in the United States and the fifth-largest in the world. It’s located in New York City and is sometimes called “St. John the Unfinished” because the construction remains incomplete. The church was consecrated in 1911, but only two-thirds of the building is complete.
This cathedral is an important institution in New York for its involvement in community initiatives as well as its architectural grandeur. It attracts visitors from all over the world, and self-guided tours are welcome.
A number of notable funerals and memorials have taken place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. These include those for James Baldwin, Allen Ginsberg, Duke Ellington, and Eleanor Roosevelt.
4. Seville Cathedral
Interior area: 11,500 m2 (123,785 ft2)
Number four on the list of largest churches is the Seville Cathedral, located in the Andalusia region of southern Spain. Together with the adjacent Alcázar palace complex and the Archivo General de Indias, the Cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
The cathedral was constructed during the 15th century on a site where there had previously been a mosque. Construction was completed in 1506, although subsequent damage to the church’s crossing lantern required additional construction up until at least 1903.
Notably, the cathedral also houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The historical significance and grand architectural scale of the church make it a popular tourist attraction in Spain.
3. Milan Cathedral
Interior area: 11,700 m2 (125,938 ft2)
The full name of the third-largest church in the world is the Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica of the Nativity of Saint Mary, but it’s also known simply as the Milan Cathedral. It covers 11,700 m2 (125,938 ft2) of interior area, has an extraordinary capacity of 40,000, and is one of the most famous landmarks in Italy.
Beginning in 1386, it took nearly six centuries to complete the construction of the cathedral, which finished in 1965. Stained glass windows, sculptures, and impressive spires make the church a popular tourist attraction. The church is also home to the second-largest pipe organ in Europe.
2. Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida
Interior area: 12,000 m2 (129,167 ft2)
Aparecida, Brazil is home to the world’s second-largest church: the Cathedral Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady Aparecida. The church features a Romanesque Revival style, with construction beginning in 1955. It was consecrated in 1980.
This cathedral receives millions of visitors every year and is one of the world’s most important Catholic pilgrimage sites. Inside the church, there is room for more than 30,000 worshippers. Believed to possess miraculous powers, the church contains the image of Our Lady Aparecida, who is considered the patron saint of Brazil.
1. St. Peter’s Basilica
Interior area: 15,160 m2 (163,181 ft2)
Ironically, the largest church in the world comes from the world’s smallest country. The world’s largest church, and perhaps the most famous, is St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. It is one of the most iconic landmarks on the planet and is considered the center of the Roman Catholic faith.
Construction of the church began in 1506, and it was completed in 1626. It was built to replace the Old St. Peter’s Basilica, which had been built in the fourth century by Constantine the Great.
The basilica houses many significant works of art, such as Michelangelo’s “Pieta” and Bernini’s “Baldacchino,” which add to its status as a cultural and historical wonder. With an interior area of 15,160 m2 (163,181 ft2), St. Peter’s Basilica can accommodate 60,000 standing people.
More About the World’s Largest Churches
What is the largest church in Asia?
The Zünheboto Sümi Baptist Church in northeastern India is considered the largest church in Asia. It has a reported seating capacity of 8,500.
What is the most colorful church in the world?
One of the most prominent colorful churches in the world is Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. It was built between 1555 and 1561 by orders of Ivan the Terrible.
What is the smallest church in the world?
Cross Island Chapel in New York has been called the world’s smallest church. It measures three feet by six feet and has seating for two.