40 magnificent ceilings from around the world

I once heard someone say that architecture is the art of covering four walls with a roof, and that the entire structure depends on the technique and skills of the architects, finding the best solution to hold it up. Another of the curious things that the architects say, is that buildings tend not to fall, though that's a different story.

The fact is that I have the habit of looking up, to pay attention to how certain iconic constructions are crowned. It is up there where we also find authentic jewels of design such as domes, vaults, stars and other geometric shapes, even holes.

So have a look at this set of photographs taken from below straight up, with minimal perspective if possible, through very famous buildings to less well known, spanning three continents and over two thousand years of history.

Temple Church
Round Temple Church in London, built in the 12th century by the Knights Templar.
Image by Nick Garrod


York Minster
The radiant circular chapter house of York Minster, in England. This image has been made using high dynamic range imaging technique (HDR), like many others in this article.
Image by Alex Brown


Wells Cathedral
Wells Cathedral: the intricate geometrical pattern of the Lady Chapel, finished in 1326.
Image by Lawrence OP


Sagrada Familia
A dark star, or the ceiling of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona. Amazing how Gaudí created a structure that seems an ultra-modern building of organic architecture. However, it was designed like a hundred years ago. Image by Greg Bailey


Studley Royal
Saint Mary's Church, a World Heritage site included in Studley Royal Park, England. This masterpiece of Victorian Gothic architecture was completed in 1871, just a few years before the construction of Sagrada Família had commenced. I reckon that this picture is a masterpiece too. Image by Nick Garrod


Haarlem
The know-how of the photographer highlights the alluring colors of this wooden ceiling of Sant Bavokerk, Haarlem, Netherlands. Image by Bas Lammers


Quattro Fontane
I am not a big fan of the overelaborate and golden Baroque ornaments; That is why I value even more the elegant shapes of San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane in Rome, which belongs to this style.
Image by Lawrence OP


Pantheon
Also in Rome stands the Pantheon, a survivor of the history (126 AD), and one of the most fascinating structures ever built. Image by Phil Oye


Maison Carrée
As well representative from the legacy of the ancient world, it is the Maison Carrée (squared house) in Nîmes, France. Image by Xavier de Jauréguiberry


Notre-Dame de la Garde
Not far away in space, but in centuries, is the basilica of Notre-Dame de la Garde, in Marseille, with its Neo-Bizantine and arabesque decorations. Image by Xavier de Jauréguiberry


Bury St Edmunds
Back to England, to aim at the bright crossing of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral.
Image by Barry Crabtree


Octagon
This spectacular octagonal lantern over the crossing of the Ely Cathedral, was built after the collapse of the old tower, and finished by 1340. Image by Andrew Sharpe


King's College Chapel
A few miles south from Ely rises the King's College Chapel, in Cambridge. In this photography, the characteristic fan vault is inflamed with light, using the HDR technique. Image by John Kroll


St Nicholas
This is an almost lysergic view of the dome of the Church of St Nicholas in Amsterdam, 19th century.
Image by Stuck in Customs


San Francisco City Hall
Jumping the Pond we get to San Francisco City Hall, reconstructed after the major 1906 Earthquake. Image by Pathos Photos


Chiloe
Church of San Francisco in the Chiloé Archipelago in Chile. The churches of Chiloé are made entirely in timber, and are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Image by Tim Snell


Burgos Cathedral
This double white star belongs to the Burgos Cathedral, Spain. Its audacious design was undertaken after that the not less audacious previous dome collapsed, one night of 1539.
Image by Lawrence OP


Avila Cathedral
I like the perspective of these low arcades, in the crossing of Avila Cathedral, Spain.
Image by Lawrence OP


Segovia Cathedral
Vanishing point in Segovia Cathedral, Spain.
Image by Lawrence OP


Alhambra
Without moving from Spain, we change civilization, visiting the splendor of the Moorish palace of the Alhambra, and this stalactite ceiling decoration. Image by Sean Wallis


Alcazar
This fantastic vault, dating 1427, represents the universe, although it rather look like a burning sun. Alcázar of Seville, Spain. Image by Paco Vila


Bazaar of Yazd
Marvelous dome in the Bazaar of Yazd, Iran. Not bad for a shopping centre.
Image by dynamosquito


Yazd
A blue sapphire dome, also found in Yazd, Iran.
Image by Golisnow


Hafez
Ceiling from the 14th century Persian poet Hafez's tomb in Shiraz, Iran.
Image by dynamosquito


Shiraz
Kaleidoscopic ceiling in the Shah Cheragh shrine at Shiraz, Iran.
Image by dynamosquito


Taj Mahal
Going further towards the Asiatic east, here comes a famous building: the Taj Mahal, India.
Image by Nick Woodford


Ranakpur
The propulsion engine of a galactic spacecraft from the back? The Ranakpur Jain Temple, India.
Image by bradnwhs


Akshardham
Ignition! The dome of the Akshardham temple in Delhi, India. Contrary to what might appear, this is one of the newest structures in this list: it was opened in 2005.
Image by Deepak Gupta


jet engine
Who would say that the Saint Louis baroque church in Sevilla (Spain), would fit into this subcategory of propelled domes? Image by Bruno Girin


Temple of Heaven
We are now in China, looking up into the Temple of Heaven, the symbol of Beijing.
Image by skiena


Forbidden City
Nearby, also in Beijing, is the legendary Forbidden City, former home of the emperors.
Image by Joris Machielse


Summer Palace
These are the colors of the Summer Palace, once more in Beijing.
Image by Tom Wachtel


mandala
A mandala representing the universe, among its many meanings, in a temple in Nepal.
Image by Tiago Pereira


Lukang
A colorful dragon at the top of the Lungshan Temple, in Lukang, where are located some of the most spectacular temples of Taiwan. Image by Timogan


below Eiffel Tower
We are back to Europe, to look under the skirt of the Eiffel Tower, Paris.
Image by FrançoisFromFrance


Arc de Triomphe
Can-can dancing under the Arc de Triomphe, another Parisian icon.
Image by Jeff Cooney


Batllo
In Barcelona you can fall under the spell of this magnetic modernist whirlpool, from the Casa Batlló.
Image by Cabbit


Guggenheim
A New Yorker avant-garde touch, provided by the hall of the Guggenheim Museum.
Image by Mr Benn


Guinness Storehouse
And why not to end the party inside a giant barrel in the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, Ireland?
Image by Rob Shaw


Sistine Chapel
This set could not be completed without one of the most iconic ceilings of history, the Sistine Chapel, in Rome, even if it is with this original fuzzy 'no photos allowed' version. Image by SknaB nolA




 

5 comments:

Mahhenta said...

Fantastic!!!! and Sistine Chapel, in Rome - that was what I expected to find the best in the history of the ceiling on your post, you made an excellent choice. Looking at it is almost hypnotic in its richness and variety of architectural themes roofs ... But what is the ceiling, which is a symbol and a message for us humans? Is this a privilege for many to have a roof over our head?

Ra said...

Thanks Mahhenta, I love your comment!-)

jonjonthrmighty said...

Really great works of 'true'art thanx for sharing.e

ximena gomien said...

They are all stunning. I liked a lot le Arch de Triunph, it bring me nice memoires, la Tour Eifel aussi;Ce tout merveilles.

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for putting this collection together. Just beautiful. Thanks for sharing..

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