Originally, cupolas had functional purposes, such as to admit light and air or to provide a lookout position. In these cases, the entire main roof of a tower or spire might be referred to as a cupola. Cupolas differ from bell towers, steeples or campaniles in that they are details on a structure rather than being a structural part of a building.
A variation of a normal cupola is one that can be reached by climbing an internal stairway. This is often called a belvedere or widow’s walk.
Modern cupolas are mostly ornamental architectural features crowning the main roof, sometimes providing a position for a flag, religious symbol, weather vane, and so on.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Eleven Magazine announce the winner and runners-up in their Moontopia competition.
As January is the time for hitting the gym, Designing Buildings Wiki lists the best gym architecture in the world.
London is at the top of the list of global construction megacities, beating Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
What are the innovative business models of the future, and how to incentivise supply chains to work on a whole life basis?
One of the largest churches in the world, the monumental St. Peter's Basilica.
How thermal comfort is quantified and how it can affect wellbeing.
Snøhetta complete a treehouse cabin that allows guests to lie beneath the Northern Lights.
Christiania is an anarchist 'freetown' in Copenhagen where strange and experimental architecture has flourished.
“UK waste data needs improving” say BRE specialists, in this summary of their report into construction waste.
UandI announce new joint venture with US developer to work on office refurbishment projects.
Why buildings crack, how cracks are categorised and what can be done.
Inaugurated last week, the new Elbphilharmonie concert venue; a soaring new addition to Hamburg's skyline.