A cupola ('kju: [email protected]@/) is a tiny, usually dome-like, tall structure on top of a building in architecture. It generally caps a bigger roof or dome and serves as a lookout or admits light and air. It is also called a weathervane.
A cupola is so named because the shell casing used to make the cupola was shaped like a small dish. This shell was then filled with molten metal and allowed to cool, thereby forming a solid piece that looked like a small cupola. Today, cupolas are made from other materials as well; for example, glass or metal can be used instead. However, this original material choice still makes the cupola a popular design feature for buildings worldwide.
Cupolas come in many shapes and sizes. They can be flat or domed, but they typically have a height to width ratio of about 3:1. There are two main types of cupolas: open and closed. Open cupolas allow light and air to pass through them, while closed cupolas do not admit any light inside them. Closed cupolas are often used as security cameras since people cannot see inside them. Security guards can monitor an entire building's population from a single spot if each room has its own camera mounted inside a closed cupola.
Cupolas are commonly found on public buildings such as libraries, museums, and government offices.
A cupola is a miniature dome in architecture that commonly resembles an upturned cup and is situated on a circular, polygonal, or square base, on small pillars, or in a glassed-in lantern. It is used to adorn the top of a tower, roof, or bigger dome. The interior vault of a dome is also referred to as a cupola. The word comes from Latin capsula, meaning "little box". In Christian churches, a cupola is usually associated with a church bell. The term is also applied to similar structures used for decoration in other contexts, such as tents, boats, and carts.
Cupolas are often quite large by comparison with other architectural features on a building. They serve as landmarks, giving a view of far away places. They also act as weathercocks, turning in the direction of the wind when not directly exposed to it. This ability to turn with the wind helps ships navigate over long distances.
The first documented use of the term "cupola" was in 1556 by Giorgio Vasari in his book L'Architettura (The Architecture), where he described a large dome on the cathedral of Florence. Cupolas appear frequently in early European drawings and paintings of cathedrals, but not many buildings outside Italy still use them today. The largest preserved cupola in North America is on the Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Rochester, New York.
The word comes from the Greek kupolos meaning "dome". It was first used in English in 1666 by John Evelyn in his book Acetaria: A Discourse of Wine.
Cupolas are most often found on churches but can also be seen on libraries, museums, and other types of buildings devoted to culture. They are most common on religious structures because they provide a lookout point for priests or monks who could warn parishioners of danger (such as soldiers with guns) from above. They are also used as telescopes in astronomy laboratories.
People sometimes make mistakes when trying to identify architectural features, including styles. Trying to identify which buildings have cupolas from a distance is difficult because they look like many other shapes and sizes of roofs. If you get closer you may see signs saying DANGER! KEEP OUT OF REACHING POSITION! This warning means that you should not try to climb up onto the roof of the building.
The police or firefighters might use a ladder to go on top of the building if there is no other way around it.