How often do you walk into a building and look at the ceiling? How often do you look up in general? No, I’m not criticizing you addiction to looking at our phones, but if that’s where you mind jumped to then maybe it’s worth thinking about.
Now, in this article I’m sharing what are probably the world’s most beautiful ceilings!
Sistine Chapel, Vatican
I’m starting with getting the obvious contender out of the way – Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. It’s breathtakingly beautiful, incredibly intricate, and ostensibly overhyped. I, personally, think it is appropriately hyped, but everyone wants to be a hipster about their ceilings and skip over one of the most beautiful chapels and ceilings in the world.
Solna Centrum Metro Station, Stockholm
I love the contrast of putting the Solna Centrum Metro Station ceiling immediately after the Sistine Chapel. These two could not be further apart in terms of style, but both are equally mind-blowing in their execution.
Artists Anders Åberg and Karl-Olov Björk painted the bedrock a dark red. Although it seems like a simple solution – it creates an amazing result. The entire Blue Line of the Stockholm metro is filled with stations that have been transformed to look amazing, and may people call the Stockholm Metro “the world’s longest art gallery.” I think this one station alone qualified that statement as true!
Shah Mosque, Isfahan
When the Persian capital was moved to Isfahan, Shah Abbas commissioned for many religious and civic buildings to be built. To work around the rather simple building materials available in 1598 (mud and brick), it was decided to cover everything in beautiful colored mosaic tiles.
The result is this incredible ceiling in the Shah Mosque in Isfahan.
Grand Central Station, New York
A lot of attention is given to the marble and the columns and the “grandness” of New York’s Grand Central Station, but I think that the station’s ceiling doesn’t get enough credit. It depicts images of zodiac symbols and was painted by the French artist Paul César Helleu. Over the years the image got dark from all the cigarette smoke (it used to be legal to smoke indoors), but in 1998 the ceiling was restored, and now you can look at it in all its glory.
Heydar Aliyev Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan
There are a lot of things named after Heydar Aliyev in Azerbaijan, but this auditorium has the best ceiling. It was opened in 2012 and uses clever architectural feats to make the walls and ceilings of the auditorium to seem like one, single, whole structure. It’s unclear where the walls end and the ceiling starts.
The auditorium’s shell is built with a steel frame that is then covered in thoughtfully arranged laminated white-oak. This makes a very architecturally complex and modern auditorium look very natural. As an added bonus – the room sounds great.
Ely Cathedral, Cambridgeshire
The timber lantern over the central tower of Ely Cathedral is one of the most impressive feats of engineering in medieval Britain. It was completed in 1334 and constructed primarily from just eight English oak trees.
San Pantalon, Dorsoduro, Venice
“Two ceilings from Italy?!” You might exclaim, but I’ll be quick to correct you by saying that the Vatican is its own country, so calm down – I’m not obsessed with Italy. That being said, Italian artists, architects, and painters really did know how to make an amazing-looking ceilings.
This entire ceiling is a 443 square-meter oil painting from the 17th century. It was completed by Gian Antonio Fumiani.
Haesley Nine Bridges Golf Club House, Yeoju-gun, South Korea
I have saved my personal favorite for last. This is a very fancy golf club with a very fancy ceiling. Like the Heydar Aliyev Centre, what I like about this ceiling is how it connects with the rest of the room.
This club house opened in 2010 and its lobby was designed by a Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban. A laminated timber “shell” is supported by large (three stories high!) columns that are also made out of timber. The pieces of wood for this building were cut using a digital printer to ensure that as little material is wasted as possible.
The high ceilings and spacious lobby allow for a lot of air to flow through the room. The sunlight that comes in through the ceiling bounces from the water in the pool. The wooden columns make it feel like a spacious forest. The whole layout of this lobby makes it feel airy, spacious, and very “natural”, even though it’s a very unnatural, thoughtfully constructed feat of architecture and interior design.