Cupolas are ornamental structures atop buildings and outdoor structures. They have a long architectural history. Famous cupolas still standing today include:
Olavinlinna Castle, Finland
Olavinlinna was founded in 1475 by Erik Axelsson Tott, a Danish knight. It was built in a quiet area on a rocky islet between two waterways where it could defend against the Russian enemy as they threatened the Swedish border. The builders were attacked as soon as they began to erect the castle, so a wooden fortification had to be built first to protect them. The castle played an important role in many attacks, including a war in 1495, and the Great Northern War in 1714. The Russians took control of the castle in 1743 until it was deserted in 1809. At that point the castle was deserted and became a tourist attraction. Today it is one of the most famous sights in Finland.
St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
One of the largest churches in the world is St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Italy. It is also one of the most holy Catholic sites, named for Saint Peter who was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. The dome is 452 feet high above the pavement. It is believed that his tomb is ensconced below the altar. Designed by such Renaissance geniuses as Donato Bramante, Michelangelo, Carlo Maderno and Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1506 and 1626, St. Peter's draws thousands of tourists throughout the year. The dome of the structure is a height of 448 ft. off the ground, making it the tallest dome in the world.
Plans for Sacre-Coeur in Paris, France began in December 1870 after the country's military defeat by Prussia. The church was to be dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Plans were chosen in 1874 and the first stone was laid the following year. The Basilica, or dome, was inaugurated in 1891 before it was built. Work was complete by 1914. The outer dome is 83 meters high and the inner dome is 55 meters high. It is second only to the Eiffel Tower in height and provides views of the entire city of Paris. Visitors can access the Dome from the outside of the Basilica by walking 300 steps to the top.