Basilica Notre Dame de la Paix

Basilica Notre Dame de la Paix
Photo by: stefanmeisel, Creative Commons

Basilica Notre Dame de la Paix, also known as Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yammousoukro is one of the greatest prides of the Ivory Coast. It is considered as the tallest and largest church in the whole world. The basilica is specifically located at Yammousoukro, Ivory Coast. Its construction started in 1985 and was finished 4 years later. It cost $300 million to complete the basilica.

The president of Ivory Coast, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, wanted to venerate himself through the construction of the largest church in the world at his birthplace, Yammousoukro. The president was depicted in a stained glass offering a gift to Jesus with his apostles. Pope John Paul II consecrated the church on September 10, 1990. However, the basilica is not used as the main church of the city. The bishop of the Diocese of Yamoussoukro stays at the not so far Cathedral of Saint Augustine and this place also serves as the main worship place for the people in the area. There exists two other buildings beside the basilica. One serves as a rectory, the other serves as a papal villa. However, the pope visited the basilica only once.

The Basilica Notre Dame de la Paix is designed after Rome’s Basilica of Saint Peter. Its architect, Pierre Fakhoury, and builder, the French company Dumez, designed and built the cross on top to be larger than the dome underneath it. Its height of 158 meters and area of 30,000 square meters gave it the title as the largest church in the world. It has an astounding seating capacity of 7,000 people and an additional standing room capacity of 11,000 people. Fine marble from Italy and stained glass from France are the main construction materials that caused a great deal of controversy. Many groups questioned on how such a great building made from expensive materials could be constructed in such a poor African city.

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