The largest church in the world. Is it situated in Africa? What is the history of the biggest church? Find out the most interesting facts you wanted to know in this article!
It is called the cathedral, although in reality it is the Catholic Basilica of St. Mary of Peace, built in the image of the Cathedral of St. Peter's in Rome. Despite this, the Basilica appeared in the Guinness Book of Records, and received the status of the largest church in the world.
Largest church building in the world
Basilica of St. Mary of Peace of Yamoussoukro is situated in the capital of the African Côte d'Ivoire, where only 20% of the population is Christians. However, this did not prevent the President of Côte d'Ivoire, Félix Houphouët-Boigny in 1983 to make his hometown Yamoussoukro, in which there are only 120 thousand inhabitants, the new capital of the country and decide that this is where the largest church in the world must be built, designed to perpetuate the name of president in the memory of grateful descendants. In 1985, under the direction of architect Pierre Fakuri, the construction work began and it lasted 4 years. As a role model the authorities chose the famous Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome.
Of course, the consecration of the temple was only the task for Pope and no one else. John Paul II has agreed to do this, but with one condition - near the church, located in the heart of one of the poorest cities in the world, the new hospital should be built. The promise was given and on 10 September 1990 the Pope consecrated the church and personally laid the first stone of the future hospital. In 1993, Félix Houphouët-Boigny died, and the construction of the hospital, when it did not start even before his death, has not started so far. But the stone is still there, apparently waiting for its time. Just like a villa built near the church and dedicated to the Pope's visit - after the first visit to Yamoussoukro in 1990 pontiffs he has never came again.
However on one of the many stained-glass windows of the cathedral you can see the president and chief architect - they are depicted as the Magi kneeling, stretching Jesus some gifts. In addition to the French stained glass with a total area of 7000 square meters, 121 thousand square meters of expensive Italian marble were used in the design. The construction of the cathedral managed to surpass the Cathedral of St. Peter according to area (30 thousand sq. m.), height of the dome (158 meters). There were spent $ 300 million, which doubled the national debt of Côte d'Ivoire. But, despite this, the locals love their church and are proud of it.
The inner space of the magnificent Cathedral, proudly towering above the city, where only a few houses have electricity, cannot boast of a large capacity: while the service may receive no more than 18,000 believers, while Cathedral of St. Peter can have three times more. So it is not the largest church in the world by membership. However, in such a small town like Yamoussoukro, it can hardly be considered a drawback - it is more important that the sun rays, penetrating through the colorful stained glass, paid with blood and sweat of the inhabitants of a small African country, oddly refracts, painting the walls in a rainbow of colors and giving the congregation the most important thing - a sense of peace and enlightenment.
Myths and facts
Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose Yamoussoukro, where he was born, as the new capital of Cote d'Ivoire in 1983. When upgrading the town with a population of 120 thousand the president wished to perpetuate his name building ‘the greatest cathedral in the world’. He ordered a stained glass window with its own image to place in the gallery next to the stained glass of Jesus and the Apostles.
Basilica was built in four years (1985-1989). The building is designed in the image of St. Peter's in Rome, but larger in size.
The largest cathedral of the world has caused many international disputes over luxury gleaming Italian marble in the impoverished African city where very few homes have water supply, and the cost of Basilica of Our Lady of Peace had doubled the already growing national debt of Côte d'Ivoire.
What to see
The interior of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace does not have any hint of African culture, as it was copied from St. Peter's Cathedral. The architect Pierre Fakuri only increased the dome and cross on the top of the building to become greater. The final height got 158 meters. At the same time it can accommodate 18,000 people - a spacious nave has 7,000 seats and 11,000 places for standing.
Multi-colored rays that penetrate through the colorful stained-glass windows, light up walls with the rosy light, creating a stunningly beautiful sight. .
Next to the basilica there are two similar buildings that were built as a home of the priest and the private Papa’s villa. But Villa, designed for the Pope's visit, has been used only once during the consecration of the cathedral. In Yamoussoukro, you can also see the old presidential palace, where Houphouët-Boigny is buried. Although it is closed to tourists, you can wander around the perimeter, watching the crocodiles through the wire fences.
In other cities of Côte d'Ivoire you should visit St. Paul's Cathedral, the temple Mariano, Mosque Tingrela, Mosque Kong, Mosque Kauara. An interesting history of the construction of Europe's biggest cathedrals can be found here: Seville Cathedral in Spain, Cologne Cathedral in Germany, and St. Paul's Cathedral in England.
Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace (Basilica of Our Lady of Peace) is open daily 24/7. If you want to get there: it is located on the western outskirts of the city of Yamoussoukro, which has an international airport (Aéroport international de Yamoussoukro). You can get there by bus from Abidjan.
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