From the Middle Ages on up to the first appearance of the modern skyscraper, Christian churches were typically the world’s tallest buildings. Today, the tallest Catholic structure, and the tallest domed church, is the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, which reaches a height of 518 feet (158 m). But it's not located in Rome or Vatican City, as you might expect. It's in Yamoussoukro, the de jure capital of Ivory Coast.
Construction began in 1985 at the behest of President Félix Houphouët-Boigny, 25 years after the West African country’s independence. The basilica brought Ivory Coast international recognition, including the blessing of Pope John Paul II in 1990. Today, the church stands as a symbol of peace, despite Ivory Coast’s tumultuous recent past, which has included two civil wars in the 21st century.
The complex, modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, cost more than $300 million USD and can accommodate 18,000 worshippers. According to some calculations, it is also the world's largest Christian church.
- At 530 feet (161.5 m), the tallest church in the world is Ulm Minster, a Lutheran church located in Ulm, Germany. The tallest church with two steeples -- and the tallest cathedral church -- is Germany's Cologne Cathedral, which stands 516 feet (157.4 m).
- If completed, Barcelona's Sagrada Família will become the tallest church in the world, at 566 feet (172.5 m).
- The tallest church in the Americas is Saint Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada, which stands at a height of 423 ft (129 m).