Largest Church in the World: Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro
This is very bizarre. The largest church building in the world is in a fairly small city with a tiny Catholic population. But it looks like a fascinating place, so enjoy the pictures and some good info from The Epoch Times:
The world's largest Christian church has 7,000 individually air-conditioned seats, standing-room for 11,000 in a surrounding 3ha marble plaza, and enough room for 100,000 more – 300,000 at a squeeze – beyond that.
Yet the chances of even the 7,000 seats ever all being occupied at one time are about nil, because rather than finding this church in one of the great cities of the world, you'll discover it in a community of just 120,000 people in the middle of the jungled hills, arid plains and farmlands of Africa's Ivory Coast.
And poverty, for few homes away from this city's strange CBD have even the basics of running water and sanitation.
We're talking about Yamoussoukro, the Ivory Coast's capital, and it's unusual Roman Catholic Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
Which is the more bizarre is a matter of conjecture. Twenty-odd years ago the country's then-President, Felix Houphouet-Boigny decided that the little village of Yamoussoukro, his birthplace, would become the country's new capital.
He enthusiastically set about the conversion, building with his own and taxpayer money, universities, hotels, an 18-hole golf course for visiting dignitaries, lush parklands, boarding schools, and eight-lane boulevards to link the lot.
Plus an airport that was the only one in Africa big enough to take the Concorde, a presidential palace with a lake stocked with scores of Sacred Caymans (crocodiles,) and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace.
And while visitors today still land at that airport, can play 18-holes, stay and dine 5-star at the swank 15-storey Hotel President (naturally,) find themselves on boulevards to nowhere, and watch the afternoon feeding of the crocodiles at the palace, it's the Basilica they want to see.
(And amidst all else, they discover a scattering of government buildings, modern and traditional stores and businesses, and homes of the less well-off.)
Modelled largely along the lines of St Peter's in Rome that took 109 years to build, the Yamoussoukro Basilica cost USD$300m and took 1,500 largely-Ivorians just three years to construct.
President Houphouet-Boigny thought it only appropriate that Pope John Paul II officially consecrate the building, but when the Vatican learned that its African St Peter's look-alike was going to be higher than the original, it laid down two rules: one was that the dome of Yamoussoukro Basilica not be higher than St Peter's, and the other that a hospital for the poor be built near the new church.
The President concurred… but somehow, just somehow, the cross on his Basilica is 17m higher than that of St Peter's. [...]