The biggest church in the world is no other than the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro. The basilica is an iconic Yamoussoukro sightseeing and has made huge impacts in Ivory Coast tourism.
Incongruously situated in the West African bush, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace (French: Basilique de Notre Dame de la Paix de Yamoussoukro) holds the Guinness World record for the largest “church” in the world, having surpassed the previous record holder, St. Peter’s Basilica, upon completion.
The basilica was constructed between 1985 and 1989 with different cost estimates given by various groups. Some stated that the construction cost ranged between US$175-600 million. The designs of the dome and encircled plaza are clearly inspired by the Basilica of Saint Peter in Vatican City with a dome surmounting a colonnade that is in the form of a Latin cross. The basilica is fronted by a large plaza encircled by two more colonnades. The 272 Doric columns that support the colonnades are made of cement and rise as high as 101 feet (31 metres). The basilica’s gigantic dome dwarfs that of St. Peter’s and rises to a height of 489 feet (149 metres). The basilica has the capacity to hold 18,000 worshippers, while the esplanade can accommodate a crowd of 300,000.
History of The Bassilica of Our Lady Of Peace, Yamoussoukro
Côte d’Ivoire president, Félix Houphouët-Boigny chose his birthplace of Yamoussoukro as the new capital of his country in 1983. As part of the plan for the city, the president wished to memorialize himself with the construction of what would be the “greatest church in the world.” The president commissioned a stained glass window of his image to be placed beside a gallery of stained glass of Jesus and the apostles.
The basilica has aroused much international controversy, for the lavish building glittering with Italian marble sitting in the middle of an impoverished African city where only a minority of homes have running water and adequate sanitation, and the cost of the basilica doubled the national debt of Côte d’Ivoire. Despite this, many of the country’s Catholics are proud of their monument. The basilica is administered by Polish Pallottines at a cost of US$1.5 million annually.