Top 10 Domes From Around the World

Sport Domes, Government Domes, Church Domes, and More

From African beehive huts to Buckminster Fuller's geodesic buildings, domes are marvels of beauty and invention. Join us for a photo tour of some of the world's most interesting domes, including sport domes, capitol domes, church domes, ancient classical domes, and other domes in architecture.

Light shines through oculus inside the Pantheon in Rome, Italy.
Inside the Pantheon in Rome, Italy. Photo by Kathrin Ziegler / The Image Bank / Getty Images (cropped)

Ever since Emperor Hadrian added a dome to this Roman Temple, the Pantheon has been an architectural model for Classical building. Hadrian, the same emperor who built the famous wall in northern England, rebuilt the Pantheon in about 126 AD after it had been destroyed by fire. The oculus or "eye" at the very top is nearly 30 feet in diameter and to this day is open to Rome's elements. On a rainy day, the wet floor is dried by a series of drains. On a sunny day, a beam of natural light is like a spotlight on the interior details, like the Corinthian columns that complement the exterior portico. More »

Interior of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Interior of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by GeoStock/Photolibrary/Getty Images (cropped)

The capital of the Roman Empire had moved to Byzantium, what we now call Istanbul, by the time the Hagia Sophia was built in the 6th century AD. This move advanced the evolution of architecture—Eastern and Western construction methods combined to create feats of new engineering. Three hundred thirty-six columns support a grand vaulted brick roof at Hagia Sophia. With magnificent Byzantine mosaics, the iconic domed building, built under the direction of Roman Emperor Justinian, combines Christian and Islamic architecture.  More »

Dome of the Taj Mahal mausoleum southern view detail, Uttar Pradesh, India
The Taj Mahal mausoleum southern view detail, Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images News/Credit: Tim Graham/Getty Images

What is it about the Taj Mahal that makes it so iconic? The pure white marble? The symmetry of the domes, arches, and minarets? The onion dome that combines architectural styles from different cultures? The Taj Mahal mausoleum, built in 1648 during India's Mughal Dynasty, has one of the most recognizable domes in the world. No wonder it was voted one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. More »

Ceiling of The Dome of the Rock
Ceiling of The Dome of the Rock. Photo by Mahmoud Illean / Corbis News / Getty Images

Built in the seventh century, the Dome of the Rock is the oldest surviving example of Islamic architecture and long praised for the breath-taking beauty of its golden dome. But that's on the outside. Inside the dome, mosaics accent the interior spaces sacred to Jews, Christians, and Muslims. More »

Tensile architecture with 12 support poles on the Millennium Dome in London, England
The Millennium Dome in London, England. Photo by Last Refuge/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images (cropped)

 The shape of the Millennium Dome comes in part to it being tensile architecture—the dome is constructed of a fiberglass fabric coated with PTFE (e.g., Teflon™). Cables attached to the piers help stretch the membrane. London-based architect Richard Rogers designed the odd-looking porcupine-shaped Millennium Dome as a one-year, temporary structure, but it eventually became the centerpiece for the O2 entertainment district. More »

Interior view from below of dome of U.S. Capitol Building, Washington DC
Interior view from below of dome of U.S. Capitol Building, Washington DC. Photo by Allan Baxter/Digital Vision/Getty Images

The cast-iron neoclassical dome by Thomas Ustick Walter wasn't added to the Capitol building until the mid-1800s. Today, inside and out, it's an enduring symbol of the United States. More »

Inside the Reichstag Dome Designed by Architect Norman Foster
Inside the Reichstag Dome Designed by Architect Norman Foster. Photo by Kwanchai Khammuean / Moment / Getty Images (cropped)
Architect Sir Norman Foster transformed the 19th century neo-Renaissance Reichstag building in Berlin with a high-tech glass dome. More »
The Historic Astrodome and the skyline of Houston, Texas
The Historic Astrodome in Houston, Texas. Photo by Paul S. Howell / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

The Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas is one of the largest domed sports structures in the world. The Louisiana Superdome may be the most celebrated for being a refuge during Hurricane Katrina. The Georgia Dome in Atlanta is tensile strength.  But the 1965 Astrodome was the first mega domed sports venue. More »

Interior view of St. Paul's Cathedral Dome, London
Interior view of St. Paul's Cathedral Dome, London. Photo by Peter Adams/Photolibrary/Getty Images

After the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren designed St. Paul's Cathedral, giving it a high dome based on the architecture of ancient Rome. More »

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Brunelleschi’s Dome in Florence, Italy

Brunelleschi's Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy
Brunelleschi's Dome of Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, Italy. Photo by Martin Shields/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

To many architects, the dome on Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, Italy is the masterpiece of all domes. Built by local goldsmith Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446), the brick dome within a dome solved the puzzle of the hole in the roof of the Florence cathedral. By using techniques of building and engineering that had never been used before in Florence, Brunelleschi has been called the first engineer of the Renaissance.

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