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Religious Buildings – the Largest Cathedrals
Posted In: Religion Articles  5/19/12
By: Yona Williams

Cathedrals are Christian churches presided over by a bishop and served as a central building regarding a religion. Oftentimes, the cathedral is much larger in size than other churches with impressive features. In this article, you will learn about some of the largest cathedrals in the world, including one in New York City.

Cathedral of Saint John the Divine – New York City

Measuring 11,200 square meters or 121,000 square feet in area, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City is considered the largest cathedral in the world. When measuring to the nave vault, the building reaches 37.8 meters into the air. The length of the church is 183.2 meters or 601 feet long. The difference between the church in NYC and the larger St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is that the latter is not a cathedral. You will find the church located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – it serves as the mother church of the Episcopal Diocese of New York. People of many different faiths come to worship at the church.

The first cornerstone of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine was set in 1892. The site for the building was chosen because of the view it provided, as well as the prominence of the area. The initial architects to work on the construction of the largest cathedral were George Heins and Christopher Grant Lafarge. Their Romanesque-Byzantine design actually beat out 80 other hopefuls.

Building such a large cathedral took time. For example, the choir and vaulted dome crossing took 20 years to complete. When Heins died, the architectural path of the church took a turn. In 1911, Ralph Adams Cram, who was known as a Gothic revival purist, insisted on creating an edifice that highlighted a French Gothic style of design.

The church held its first services in the nave on the day before Pearl Harbor (1941). Construction ceased after the U.S. became a part of World War II and did not continue again until 1979. By then, finding a stonecutter was a hard task to accomplish. Just so the building could resume, stonecutters hailing from Europe traveled to New York – training the local craftspeople.

If you visit the cathedral today, look high above the doors. There, you will catch sight of the Great Rose Window, which is comprised out of more than 10,000 pieces of colored glass – making it the largest stained-glass window in the United States.

Other large cathedrals found around the world include:
•    Seville Cathedral – Another large cathedral is the Seville Cathedral, which is located in Andalusia, Spain. The Roman Catholic church is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and ranks #3 as the largest in the world. The church dates back to the early 1500s.

•    Cathedral Church of Christ the Savior – Located in Moscow, Russia, this cathedral is credited as being the largest Orthodox cathedral in the world. It has a height of 102.1 meters or 335 feet.

•    Cathedral of Saint Sava – In Belgrade, Serbia, the Cathedral of Saint Sava is considered one of the largest Orthodox cathedral in the world with an area that measures 8,162 square meters.


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