Looking Up: The World’s Most Beautiful Ceilings.
While visiting the marvelous museums, churches, and buildings on your next educational tour, take some time to look up and admire the ceiling. There are so many ceilings worth celebrating due to the fact that they soar above others in size, architectural achievements, and design elements. From the various types of domes and vaults to elaborate geometric shapes and paintings, the ceilings of the world deserve a little admiration as well.
So pay attention to how the iconic structures of the world are crowned while you’re traveling the world.
The following are but a handful of gorgeous ceilings.
National Gallery of Victoria.
Located in Melbourne, Australia, the National Gallery of Victoria displays a masterpiece above its Great Hall. One of the continent’s largest art museums, it showcases a stained-glass ceiling that measures 200 feet long and 50 feet wide. Comprised of a staggering 10,000 pieces of hand-cut glass in a variety of fifty colors, it’s truly magnificent!
An interesting fact: this lavish theatre in Costa Rica was one of the first buildings in all of Central America to have electric lighting. However, that’s not the reason I’m writing this post because it’s more famous for the fantastic murals that adorn the ceiling. They are a tribute to the country’s coffee and banana crops. If you have a keen eye or know a little about coffee you may notice a couple errors. Painted by an Italian master who had never visited the country, it shows coffee growing at sea level (it’s normally cultivated in the mountains), and the bananas are upside down.
Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood.
A visit to Russia wouldn’t be complete without a peek inside this gorgeous church. Constructed on the site where Czar Alexander II was assassinated in 1881, it was later shut down by Stalin and damaged during WWII. When it reopened in1997, it had gone through years of neglect. Now visitors can see the ornate ceilings depicting various scenes from the Bible which are surrounded by elaborate borders.
Strahov Monastery (Theology Hall).
This monastic library in the Czech Republic has the distinction of being the largest in the country as well as housing 2,500 books that were all published before 1500. Now that’s impressive! But visitors also come to appreciate the ceiling that is adorned with Baroque frescos and framed by extravagant stucco work. The richness and formality of the books is a stark contrast to the embellished ceiling.
Library of Congress.
Just across the street from the United States Capitol lies the Library of Congress. The Main Reading Room is home to a mural depicting human understanding, and the Great Hall ceiling has six stained-glass skylights surrounded by the names of ten classical authors.
Did you really think I could leave this one off? I mean this list wouldn’t be complete without one of the most iconic and visited ceilings in all of history. Completed by the master himself, this fresco masterpiece by Michelangelo, is thought by some to be the high point of the Renaissance. It’s simply breathtaking. The glory of that work is perfect, and I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like to work on something that would be revered by generations to come.
Home to what is believed to be the largest ceiling fresco in the world, covering some 6,500 square feet, this Baroque palace was built in 1720 by Viennese, French, and German architects.
Built in the early 1600s by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmet, this famous house of worship flawlessly combines Ottoman and Byzantine styles of architecture. The name originates from the color of mosaics lining the building’s interior and ceilings. Some 20,000 tiles construct the building which are said to depict the heavens.
Who would have thought that one of the premier shopping destinations in Paris would also have one of the most beautiful ceilings? In 1895, Théophile Bader and his cousin Alphonse Kahn opened a fashion store in a small haberdasher’s shop at the corner of rue La Fayette and the Chaussée d’Antin. In the following years, their company purchased and acquired several buildings in the area. Bader commissioned architect Georges Chedanne and his pupil Ferdinand Chanut to design the store at what is today the Haussmann location. A glass and steel dome was installed and Art Nouveau staircases were constructed in 1912.
While ceilings can be nondescript, there are times when they are the most striking feature. Whether they have a cultural, religious, or commercial annotation, the technique and craftsmanship that goes into them is quite remarkable. I hope this list ignited your wanderlust to travel the world on an educational tour so you can see these places first hand and learn their history.
Until next time,