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Cathedrals are some of the world’s greatest works of architecture. These buildings are often so grand and so large that they stand out as important landmarks in their respective cities. For many centuries, cathedrals were often the tallest buildings in their countries and today some still are.

There is often some confusion between the difference of a church, cathedral, and basilica and often times the words are used interchangeably. However, strictly speaking a cathedral is a church that serves as the seat of power for a bishop. Cathedrals are the church associated with the administration of an area. For the purposes of this list, we only included cathedrals that are formally called cathedrals in their official name.

  1. St Paul’s Cathedral

Area: 7,875 m² (84,765.8 sq ft)
Location: London, England
Denomination: Church of England
Built: 1677–1708


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Eluveitie

St Paul’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in London and the second largest in England. The present St Paul’s Cathedral was built between 1677 – 1708 and has an area of 7,875 square meters (85,765.8 square feet). The Old St Paul’s Cathedral was destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666.

While there are many interesting features of St Paul’s Cathedral, one of its defining features is the dome. The dome of St Paul’s Cathedral 111.3 meters (365.16 feet) high and is one of the largest domes in the world, weighing in at 65,000 metric tons.

Did You Know?

St Paul’s Cathedral was the first church in England built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth-century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the rule of the Catholic church.

  1. Cologne Cathedral

Area: 7,920 m² (85,250.17 sq ft)
Location: Cologne, Germany
Denomination: Catholic
Built: 1248 – 1880


Source: Wikimedia Commons via dronepicr

Cologne Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Germany with an area of 7,290 square meters (85,250.17 square feet). Not only is Cologne Cathedral one of the city’s greatest landmarks, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of the Cologne Cathedral took over seven centuries, between 1248 – 1880, and was built in several phases.

The high altar inside of Cologne Cathedral is believed to be the largest in the world and is made of black limestone and was built in the early 14th century. Also dating from this time period are the Cologne Cathedral’s carved oak choir chairs, painted choir screens, the fourteen statues on the pillars in the choir, and the great cycle of stained-glass windows.

Did You Know?

Cologne Cathedral is home to the world’s largest swinging bell, which is called St Peter’s bell and weighs 24 metric tons.

  1. Rio de Janeiro Cathedral

Area: 8,000 m² (86,111.28 sq ft)
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1964 – 1979


Source: Flickr via Jorge Láscar

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Rio de Janeiro Cathedral, also known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, is the largest cathedral in South America and is a unique looking cathedral. Unlike the the traditional Gothic cathedrals of Europe, the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral looks more modern and draws inspiration from the Mayan pyramids. The interior of Rio de Janeiro Cathedral has an area of 8,000 square meters (86,111.28 square feet).

Although the Diocese of Rio de Janeiro was created in 1676, there was never an official cathedral/seat of power in the area. Instead, the Diocese and Archdiocese used various churches to serve as temporary cathedrals. Finally, in 1964, the Archdiocese was granted land to build the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral.

Did You Know?

Inside the basement of the Rio de Janeiro Cathedral is the Sacred Art Museum, which houses a collection of sculptures, murals, artwork, and fonts used to baptize the princes of the Portuguese royal family.

  1. Cathedral of Our Lady

Area: 8,000 m² (86,111.28 sq ft) (interior)
Location: Antwerp, Belgium
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1352 – 1521


Source: Wikimedia Commons via desiderata12

The Cathedral of Our Lady in Antwerp, Belgium is the largest cathedral in the country. The cathedral’s interior floor space has an area of 8,000 square meters (86,111.28 square feet). The Cathedral of Our Lady is big enough to hold up to 25,000 people. Also, the inside of the Cathedral of Our Lady is 118 meters (387 feet) long ad 67 meters (219.8 feet) wide at its crossing.

The two towers of the Cathedral of Our Lady are also quite tall – the north tower is 123 meters (403.5 feet) high and the south tower is 65.3 meters (214 feet) high. Construction of the Cathedral of Our Lady began in 1352 and was not completed until 1521. Initially, both towers were supposed to be the same height, but repairs of the cathedral after a massive fire put the continued construction of the south tower on hold indefinitely.

Did You Know?

It costs 1.5 million euros ($1,707,523.5) each year to maintain the Cathedral of Our Lady.

  1. Florence Cathedral

Area: 8,300 m² (89,340.46 sq ft)
Location: Florence, Italy
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1296 – 1436


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Cosmos1972

The Florence Cathedral is the second largest cathedral in Italy and at one point, it was the largest cathedral in Europe when construction was completed in the 15th century. The Florence Cathedral has an area of 8,300 square meters (89,340.46 square feet) and the interior of the cathedral is 153 meters (502 feet) long, 90 meters (295 feet) wide at the crossing, and 90 meters (295 feet) high from pavement to the opening of the lantern.

It took 170 years to build the Florence Cathedral and the first stone of the facade was laid on September 8, 1296. While all of the architecture of Florence Cathedral is impressive, one of its most ambitious design elements is its 44 windows. These stained glass windows were the most extensive built in 14th and 15th century Italy.

Did You Know?

The dome of Florence Cathedral is the largest masonry dome in the world and was constructed using over 4 million bricks and weighs 40,000 tons.

  1. Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar

Area: 8,318 m² (89,534.207 sq ft)
Location: Zaragoza, Spain
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1681 – 1961


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Armin Hornung

Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is the second largest cathedral in Spain after the Seville Cathedral. The Cathedral-Basilica has an area of 8,318 square meters (89,534.207 square feet). The cathedral, which is often just called El Pilar (The Pillar), is the main attraction of the city of Zaragoza.

As its name suggests, the Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar is dedicated to the Virgin of the Pillar because there is a wooden statue of the Virgin Mary on a column of jasper residing in the cathedral. The statue was given to St. James by the Virgin Mary herself, who told him where to build a church in her honor.

Did You Know?

The Cathedral-Basilica of Our Lady of the Pillar was the first church in the world dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

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  1. Liverpool Cathedral

Area: 9,687.4 m² (104,275 sq ft)
Location: Liverpool, England
Denomination: Church of England (Anglican)
Built: 1904 – 1978


Source: Geograph

The Liverpool Cathedral is the largest Anglican cathedral in the world with an area of 9,687.4 square meters (104,275 square feet). In the center of Liverpool Cathedral is a single tower, which is 100.8 meters (331 feet) high and it is one of the tallest bell towers in the world. Additionally, the Liverpool Cathedral’s bells are the highest at 67 meters (219 feet) above the ground and the heaviest with a weight of 31.5 tonnes (31 tons).

In 1901, after a town hall meeting, it was decided that the city of Liverpool need a new cathedral. The design for Liverpool Cathedral was drafted by twenty-two year old Giles Gilbert Scott and chosen in 1903. Construction of Liverpool Cathedral took place from 1904 to 1978.

Did You Know?

The Grand Organ inside of Liverpool Cathedral is the largest in the United Kingdom and is made of 10,267 pipes, which took three years to build (1923 – 1926).

  1. Cathedral of Saint John the Divine

Area: 11,200 m² (120,555.8 sq ft)
Location: Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA
Denomination: Episcopal Church in the United States of America
Built: 1892 – Present


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Kripaks

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is the largest cathedral in North America and it serves as the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and is also the seat of its Bishop. With an area of 11,200 square meters (120,555.8 square feet), the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine was built in three phases, starting in 1892.

Unlike some of the other cathedrals on this list, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is relatively young (it has only been opened for about 126 years) and is still considered a work in progress. In addition to the cathedral itself, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and its surrounding gardens and additional buildings form an 11.3 acre complex.

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Did You Know?

The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine is home to the largest rose window in the United States. The window is the fifth largest in the world and is made up of over 10,000 pieces of stained glass.

  1. Seville Cathedral

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Area: 11,520 m² (124,000.25 sq ft)
Location: Seville, Spain
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1401 – 1528


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Ingo Mehling

The Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic structure in the world and the world’s second biggest cathedral. Spain’s largest cathedral has an area of 11,520 square meters (124,000.25 square feet) and the Seville Cathedral serves as the Chair of the Archbishop of Seville.

While the cathedral as a whole is quite impressive, one of the greatest works of art is the Seville Cathedral’s altarpiece. It is considered to be the largest altarpiece in all of Christendom and is almost 30 meters (98.42 feet) in height and 20 meters (65.6 feet) in width.

Did You Know?

The tomb of Christopher Columbus is located just inside of the entrance of the Seville Cathedral.

  1. Milan Cathedral

Area: 11,700 m² (125,937.75 sq ft) (interior)
Location: Milan, Italy
Denomination: Roman Catholic
Built: 1386 – 1965


Source: Wikimedia Commons via Jiuguang Wang

The Milan Cathedral or the Duomo di Milano is the largest cathedral in the world with in an interior area of 11,700 square meters (125,937.75 square feet). Italy’s largest cathedral is so big that it weighs about 325,000 tons. Additionally, the Milan Cathedral is big enough to house 3,400 statues, 150 gargoyles, 55 stained glass windows, and 200 bas reliefs.

The Milan Cathedral traces its history all the way back to 1386 when Archbishop Antonio da Saluzzo made plans for a new cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Nascente. Over the next several centuries the Milan Cathedral was expanded an underwent extensive restoration work in the 20th century.

Did You Know?

About 100,000 people visit the Milan Cathedral each week, amounting to over 6 million people annually.


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