A cupola is an ornamental dome acting as a roof that is placed on the top of a building. The shape of the cupola gives considerable strength to the structure allowing for very large areas to be enclosed without the need for supporting structures or columns.

Large Domes

The Pantheon Rome, Italy was built in 123 AD. It has a dome 142 feet in diameter with a thickness of 23 feet at its base. To reduce the weight of the dome large amounts of material was removed from the base and a 27 foot opening (oculus) was made in the roof. The Pantheon remained the largest dome in the world for 1,300 years.
The church of Hagia Sophia (divine wisdom) was completed in 537. With a dome of 102 feet, Hagia Sophia is the fourth largest cathedral in the world.
St. Basil's Cathedral Moscow comprises of eight colourful onion shaped cupolas. It was built in 1554 by orders of Ivan the Terrible and has been likened to a box of glazed fruits.
The Mihrimah Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey, was built in 1555. Its dome measures 66 feet in diameter and contains 161 windows around its base.
St. Peter's Basilica, designed by Michaelangelo was built in 1626. It has a diameter of 138 feet and rises to a height of 452 feet.
The Taj Mahal, India was completed in 1648. Its dome, built completely of white marble is 187 feet in diameter.
The United State's Capitol building, Washington was completed in 1824. It has a dome with a diameter of 96 feet, was constructed using 8,909,200 pounds of iron and is crowned with the 15,000 pound bronze Statue of Freedom.
The Climatron, completed in 1959 was the first geodesic dome greenhouse. Made of plastic, aluminium and glass it has a diameter of 175 feet with 3,625 panes of glass.
The Astrodome, Houston, Texas was built in 1966. It has a diameter of 710 feet, has 4007 skylights, and can accommodate over 50,000 spectators.
The Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada was completed in 1976. It has a cable-supported roof with an elliptical dome roof 340 feet by 575 feet.
The SkyDome, Toronto,Canada was built in 1989. It has a dome measuring 674 feet with a fully retractable roof. The roof weighs in excess of 11,000 tons and can retract at a rate of 71 feet per minute.
The Georgia Dome, Atlanta, was completed in 1992 and has a diameter of 840 feet. It has a cable-supported roof made of Teflon-coated fibreglass. The fabric covers more than 395,000 square feet and weighs a mere 68 pounds.
The Millenium Dome, Greenwich, London, was built in 1994 and has a diameter of 1,050 feet. It is twice the size of the Georgia Dome in Atlanta and has a floorspace of more than 20 acres.


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