Ceilings Around the World

Written by Milan Jara

Ceilings

You might walk into a room and look around, noticing the furniture and what's hanging on the walls. But do you look up at the ceiling? A lot of the time, it's just a boring, white ceiling up there, but sometimes, you'll find something really interesting or beautiful. Some ceilings even feature famous works of art!


Grand Central Station

Architecture and Artistry

When it was first created, the vaulted ceiling over the main concourse of Grand Central Station in New York City made headlines. An astronomer from Columbia University helped plan the ceiling, which features a starry sky. Also on the team were an artist, a muralist, and the architects who designed the station. They based the artwork on a star atlas from 1603 called Uranometria. Constellations were painted directly onto the plaster ceiling, which soars over the heads of passengers.


Tokyo's Senso-Ji Temple

Architecture and Artistry

Kannondō is the main hall of Senso-Ji Temple, which is a replica of the original temple that was destroyed during World War II. It's divided into inner and outer sanctums, and the ceiling inside is covered in beautiful paintings, including one by Domoto Insho. The images include angels, lotus flowers, and scenes from Japanese mythology and history. The largest image is of the Bodhisattva Kannon.


Bellagio Hotel

Architecture and Artistry

The Bellagio Hotel is one of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels in Las Vegas, and it's probably most famous for the fountains out front. But the ceiling of the lobby also makes the Bellagio stand out from all the other hotels in the city. Famous glass-blower and artist Dale Chihuly designed and created a large, hand-blown glass ceiling that was installed in the lobby. The sculpture contains more than 2,000 glass flowers, cost around $10 million to make, and weighs more than 40,000 pounds. It covers more than 2,000 square feet of the lobby ceiling.


Sagrada Familia

Architecture and Artistry

The Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudi, a well-known Spanish architect. Construction on the basilica began in 1882 but has yet to be completed; it's supposed to be finished in 2026. Gaudi had two goals when designing the ceiling: He wanted the cathedral to have outstanding sound quality, and he wanted light to enter the space from the ceiling. The architect used the Catalan vault design to create the shape of the ceiling, and he carefully designed it so it looks like visitors are gazing up at a forest.


Sistine Chapel

Architecture and Artistry

The Sistine Chapel's ceiling is considered to be one of the most important pieces of art in the world. It was designed and painted by Renaissance artist Michelangelo, who was asked to paint the ceiling by Pope Julius II. The artwork was painted by hand from 1508 to 1512. It measures 13 meters wide by 40 meters long, and it includes many different themes and scenes in its various panels. The center panels show stories from the Old Testament of the Bible, like the flood that caused Noah to build the ark. Other panels show angels in heaven and scenes depicting Jesus's ancestors.


Debre Berhan Selassie Church

Architecture and Artistry

Christians have prayed in this small, ancient church in Ethiopia for a very long time. The outside looks very modest, but the inside is filled with colorful and detailed religious art. The ceiling was painted so that people who can't read could learn about stories from the Bible. The tops of the walls are decorated with 135 cherubs. The church has dealt with water damage over the years that has damaged 13 of the cherubs, but the frescoes on the ceilings remain vivid and clear. Guides help visitors understand the meaning of the art covering the ceiling and walls of the church.


Sant'Ignazio Church

Architecture and Artistry

It was impossible to build a real dome on Rome's Sant'Ignazio Church, which was dedicated to the man who founded the Jesuit order, Saint Ignatius. So artist Andrea Pozzo was hired to paint a fake dome. Pozzo used canvas and forced perspective to make people believe they were looking up at a dome. The fresco has representations of Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe painted on it. The goal of the piece is to glorify the work of Saint Ignatius and show the work Jesuit missionaries undertook around the world.


Khai Dinh Tomb

Architecture and Artistry

Statues of dragons stand guard outside the stairs to the Vietnamese Khai Dinh Tomb. Most of the buildings on the grounds of the tomb are made of gray stone, but the exception is the palace of Thien Dinh, which is colorful and bright. Glass and porcelain flowers decorate the outside of the place, and the inside walls are also covered in glass and glass and porcelain. However, the most notable part of the palace is the ceiling, which has a colorful mural featuring nine dragons flying through the clouds.


Royal Palace of Brussels

Architecture and Artistry

Inside the historic Royal Palace of Brussels in Belgium is a very modern work of art. The Mirror Room was originally built in the 19th century and inspired by the Congo. The walls are made of copper and marble with large mirrors on all walls. Artist Jan Fabre was hired in 2002 to create a work of art on the ceiling. He and his team glued more than 1.5 million jewel beetles from Thailand onto the ceiling and light fixtures, creating a shimmery green work of art. The royal family uses this space regularly for events.

- Milan Jara