Five of the World's Most Celebrated Domes | Architectural Domes

Hagia Sophia

The Pantheon

It's impossible to say just how many architectural domes currently exist throughout the world. Exterior domes are now found crowning innumerable churches, government buildings, and casinos, while interior domes appear in many of the world's finest resorts and hotels. There are, however, a few architectural domes that are particularly noteworthy. Five of history's most celebrated architectural domes are described below.

The Pantheon

One of the greatest architectural achievements of the Ancient Romans, the Pantheon is classified as a coffered dome. Built almost 2,000 years ago to honor the Roman gods, the Pantheon, like most interior domes of that time, was constructed from concrete and brick. The depressions âEUR" now known as coffers âEUR" were made to reduce the overall weight of the dome. The Pantheon is distinguishable from other interior domes of its time by its coffers, its massive diameter of 142 feet, and the opening carved into the top of the dome. This opening, known as an oculus, is responsible for the beautiful light show for which this building is still famous.

Hagia Sophia

Completed in 537 AD in Istanbul, Turkey, the Hagia Sophia is notable among history's exterior domes because it was the very first one constructed using a series of curved triangular shapes known as pendentives. Most exterior domes up to that point had been built on circular bases, but the Hagia Sophia's dome was constructed atop a square one.

St. Peter's Basilica

Designed by the legendary Michelangelo, St. Peter's Basilica was set apart from the other architectural domes of its time not by its diameter, but by its extraordinary height. When it was built, St. Peter's Basilica's dome, which reached a height of 452 feet, eclipsed most other exterior domes that existed at the time, including the Pantheon.

Mihrimah Mosque

Designed by the renowned Turkish architect Sinan during the 16th century, the Mihrimah Mosque is notable among interior domes because of its numerous windows - 161 to be exact. Compared to other architectural domes constructed during this time, the one developed by Sinan is quite light. The rays of sunlight this dome allows in make the interior of the mosque a truly enchanting sight.

The U.S. Capitol

The U.S. Capitol's dome can be considered an optical illusion of sorts. First, although it appears to be made of stone, it is crafted from cast iron. In addition, the U.S. Capitol's dome actually consists of two architectural domes. There is a smaller one inside the taller exterior dome, which is little more than a thin shell supported by iron ribs. Today, the U.S. Capitol contains one of the most recognizable exterior domes in the United States.

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