Michelangelo’s painted ceiling in the Sistine Chapel in Rome may be the most lauded in the ceiling world, but it’s far from the only one worth straining your neck to see.
The editors and members of travel website VirtualTourist.com have compiled a list of the World’s Top 10 Greatest Ceilings, apart from the Sistine Chapel. Reuters has not endorsed this list.
1. Bellagio Hotel; Las Vegas, Nevada
The coloured disks that float on the ceiling of the Bellagio may look like multi-coloured jellyfish, but they are in fact thousands of hand-blown glass flowers. Like the town itself, it has to be seen to be believed.
2. Debre Berhan Selassie Church; Gonder, Ethiopia
You’d never guess by looking at the outside of this small, relatively simple church that such stunning artwork graces the inside. It’s said that none of the 104 winged cherubs that dot the ceiling are alike.
3. Grand Central Station; New York City, New York
Once covered in black grime, this ceiling was restored in the 1990s as part of the station’s renovation and now depicts several signs of the zodiac in beautiful sea-green and gold hues. There’s even a little patch that was left dirty just to show the difference between the “before” and “after”.
4. Galeries Lafayette Department Store; Paris, France
The glass domed ceiling at the famed department store attracts as many tourists as shoppers. Unveiled in 1912, the dome is overshadowed only by the view from the store’s terrace.
5. Khai Dinh Tomb; Hue, Vietnam
It took 11 years to complete, but the results are pretty astounding with the ceiling featuring nine hand-painted dragons in fine, fleeting clouds.
6. Sant’Ignazio Church; Rome, Italy
It’s almost impossible to believe when looking at this multi-dimensional painting that the surface is actually flat. Perhaps one of the most incredible examples of “Trick of the Eye” paintings ever completed, it’s a clear rival with its more famous nearby neighbour — the Sistine Chapel
7. Sagrada Familia; Barcelona, Spain
No one could ever say this building was constructed too hastily. Started in the 1800s and still unfinished, the imposing forest-like ceiling is as original as the rest of the Gaudi-designed church.
8. Central Rotunda, Griffith Park Observatory; Los Angeles, California
Designed by Hollywood art director turned muralist Hugo Ballin, the subtle, circular painting depicts the signs of the zodiac and other celestial objects. An interesting side note: Ballin was a sketch artist on the film The Wizard of Oz, which might explain the ceiling’s whimsical look.
9. Macy’s Department Store; Chicago, Illinois
This genuine Tiffany ceiling is so incredible it’s enough to distract even the most ardent shopaholic. Over 100 years old, it’s composed of more than 1.6 million pieces of glass and is considered by many to be one of the best examples of Tiffany craftsmanship ever constructed.
10. Opera Garnier; Paris, France
Although the primary function of the building is to provide a stage for the city’s extraordinary ballet company, Marc Chagall’s ceiling mural is a show in itself. Thought to be somewhat incongruous with the building’s architecture, it was the source of much controversy when it was added in 1964.