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11 Most Famous Domes Around the World

Yohan Adrianwalla Sep 11, 2019
Domes have existed in almost every culture in one form or another. Simply, a hemispherical roof is a dome. Initially, the simplest dome was made of 'a shell of revolution', an arch rotated horizontally. Starting with tombs, then palaces, very soon domes were used on churches and mosques.
It is believed that domes were meant to signify a man-made representation of the roof provided by God.

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Hagia Sophia

The Hagia Sophia began as a cathedral before it was converted to a mosque in the 15th century. One of the most famous domes in the world, since 1935, it has been opened as a museum.
Fun Fact: One of the most iconic examples of the grand Roman Empire, at its time was the largest covered space in the world.

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St Peter's Basilica

Still considered as one of the largest churches in the world, St Peter's Basilica has been the burial site for numerous popes. The great Michelangelo not only created one of his masterpieces here, but was also one of its chief architects.
With construction that began in 1506, this basilica now boasts one of the world's tallest domes.
Fun Fact: Known also as Papal Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican, it is believed to house the tomb of St. Peter himself.

Taj Mahal

The Taj was commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a mausoleum for his wife Mumtaz Mahal.

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It is claimed that the burial tomb of Mumtaz was decorated with 28 different precious and semi-precious stones, and that it was also inscribed with the 99 names of Allah.
Fun Fact: Rumor has it that, after the completion of the Taj, Shah Jahan ordered the architects' arms be chopped off, so they would never be able to build anything like it ever again.

St. Paul's Cathedral

Since the early 1700s, when this cathedral was built, it has been the seat for the Bishop of London, as well as the mother church of the diocese of London. It is constructed with 2 inner and one external dome.

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Fun Fact: Because of the shape created by the inner domes, the acoustics create, what is known as a whispering gallery. Whispers in one part of this gallery can be heard at the other end. It can be accessed by climbing more than 200 steps.

Capitol Building

Construction of the Capitol Building began around 1793. Initially, the dome had a timber frame with copper sheets. The dome we see today is in fact the second dome on the building. Built in 1855 to replace the old dome, this one is made from cast iron.

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Fun Fact: Apparently, the first session of Congress was held on November 17, 1800, while the building was still being constructed.

Santa Maria del Fiore

With construction starting in 1294, the Basilica de Santa Maria del Fiore is one of the first structures of the Renaissance with a double dome. It is to this day the largest dome ever made from brick and mortar.

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Fun Fact: The architect Filippo Brunelleschi always refused to tell people how he would create the dome, and was restrained and removed from the assembly of overseers twice for being incoherent and mentally unsound.

The Shah Mosque

Opened in 1629, it is also known as the Imam Mosque. This dome is known for its colorful mosaic and intricate calligraphic inscriptions. The inlay work with ceramic tiles was invented to decorate this building; it was called 'Haft-Rangi', or seven colors.

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Fun Fact: When electricity was introduced in Arabic countries, the Shah Mosque is rumored to be the first building ever lit up. Apparently, it was more than a few years before even the sultan's entire palace had light.

Dome of Rock

Completed in 691 AD, the Dome of Rock is not a mosque. In fact, it is a shrine for the Sacred Rock, also known as the Foundation Stone.

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Significant to a number of different religions, it is believed that this rock marks the spot where the prophet Mohamed ascended to heaven. Also, it is believed to be the site where Isac was sacrificed by his father Abraham.
Fun Fact: Though the roof appears golden, the gold has been replaced with aluminum covered in gold leaf.

St. Basil's Cathedral

Also known as 'The Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat', it marks the geometric center of Moscow. Known for its unique onion-shaped domes, St. Basil's was originally white. With the first chapel opening in 1561, it now has 9 chapels.

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Fun Fact: Initially, the domes were golden. It was only in 1848 that they were given the iconic bold colors they are known for today.


First opened in 1894, the Reichstag was to house the Imperial Diet (or assembly of the German empire). The inscription 'Dem Deutschen Volke' ('[To] the German people') carved into the front symbolizes the new democracy.

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Fun Fact: The glass dome on top of the building was completed in 1999. It provides a 360-degree view of Berlin city, and also the main hall of parliament below. An automated sun shield tracks the movement of the sun and protects the hall below from direct sunlight.


Built as a Roman temple for all the gods in 126 AD, the word Pantheon means exactly that. The structure was built with perfect proportions, where the height of the roof is exactly the same as the diameter of the dome.

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Every year, on April 21, the light from the central opening or Oculus radiates through a metal grill over the door, which covers the courtyard with its glow.
Fun Fact: Till date, the Pantheon is the biggest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.