Domed Roofs: Wonders of the World
In the western world, roofs are typically built in a flat or steepled fashion, largely due to weather conditions. In the east, however, domed roofs are far more common, being used with regularity in religious buildings, great tombs, or seats of power for governments. With their unique style, domed roofs require much work and skill to build, and special kinds of wind resistant demarcation for assistance in planning. In today's article, we are going to examine some of the most famous domed buildings of the world and learn more about their construction.
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem
A holy site for both Muslims and Jews, the Dome of the Rock is an Islamic shrine built on the ruins of the old Jewish Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. The Dome of the Rock bears great significance to all Abrahamic religions as it is built over the Foundation Stone, the place where God is said to have created Adam and the Earth. While the shrine currently falls under Israeli jurisdiction, it is almost exclusively used by Muslims for prayer; non-Muslims are permitted entry, however they cannot pray, wear religious apparel, or bring prayer books. Unusually for Israel, Jews may not enter at all, as it contravenes Jewish religious law.
St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow
St Basil's Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral of Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat, was built between 1555 and 1561 by the feared Russian prince Ivan the Terrible. Composed of 9 chapels built over one foundation, the Cathedral is world-renowned for its colourful domes built all with different designs, peaking with the golden dome which stands tall in the centre of the cathedral. It has not officially been a church property since 1928 when the Soviet Union seized it as part of its anti-religious campaigning, instead serving as a museum with regular Orthodox Christian services since 1997. The Cathedral is often mistaken for the Kremlin by foreigners, which it is not a part of, though they are quite close to each other.
Taj Mahal, Agra
The Taj Mahal, arguably the most famous dome on this list, is a mausoleum built by Emperor Shah Jahan to entomb his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The Emperor is also buried there. Famous for its bulging marble domes, the Taj Mahal has been described as "the jewel of Muslim art in India" by UNESCO and attracts between 7 and 8 million visitors a year. The building of the mausoleum took roughly 20,000 skilled workers and was designed by the Emperor's court architect, Ustad Ahmad Lahauri. The mausoleum features a mosque and several gardens over 17 hectares of land.
Florence Cathedral, Florence
Unique on this list for being a western building, the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore (to give Florence Cathedral its full name) was completed in 1436 and took 140 years to build. The Cathedral is perhaps the most recognisable part of Florence and is currently protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Cathedral has a long history, being nearly 600 years old, and has been the site of many significant historical events in the city's history. For example, the iconoclastic Catholic preacher Girolamo Savonarola preached from the steps of the Florence Cathedral, causing revolt against the ruling family and inspiring future Protestant reformers with his criticisms of the church.