A church is a building used for worship service or other religious activities in Christianity. In traditional Christian Church designs, the church’s plan view often forms a cross. The center aisle and seating represent the vertical beam, while the altar and bema from the horizontal beam. Modern church designs may have different layouts, and many churches have been converted from buildings designed for other purposes.
The earliest identified church is the Duras-Europas church in Syria, which was founded between 233 and 256. It is believed to be a normal domestic home converted for worship.
Churches vary greatly in types and sizes. The types of churches include basilica, cathedral, pilgrimage, conventual, and collegiate. Cathedrals are usually Catholic, Anglican, Oriental Orthodox, or Eastern Orthodox.
Largest Churches in the World
Churches’ sizes can be measured in various ways, such as area, volume, length, width, height, and capacity. Several churches claim to be the largest church, based on any single one of these criteria.
The largest church in the world based on interior and exterior area and capacity is the Catholic (Latin) St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. The interior is 15,160 m2, and the exterior is 21,095 m2. St. Peter’s holds 60,000 people. For context, Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles is the largest baseball stadium in the United States, holding 56,000 people. St. Peter’s Basilica holds 4,000 more people than Dodger Stadium.
The largest cathedral in the world and the second-largest church is Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida, located in Aparecida, Brazil. The cathedral is 12,000 m2 on the inside and 18,331 m2 on the outside and has 45,000 people.
When it comes to exterior area, Yoido Full Gospel is the largest church globally, spanning over 44,000 m2. This Pentecostal church is located in Seoul, South Korea, and holds 12,000 people. Basilica of Our Lady of Peace is the second-largest church by exterior area at 30,000 m2 and holds 18,000 people. This is a Catholic (Latin) church located in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast. St. Peter’s Basilica is the third-largest by this measure.
Below are 30 of the world’s largest churches. Please note that this is not a complete list due to lack of information about exterior size (area) or capacity. Some churches are included for size, some for capacity, and some for a combination of both.