10 Astonishing Ceilings You Can See Up Close

By Google Arts & Culture

Israeli Lounge Ceiling Panels (1972) by Shraga WeilThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

There are a lot of beautiful and sophisticated ceilings in buildings all around the world, but they're normally so high up that you can't see the elaborate details and embellishments. Plus, there's only so long you can look up before you're neck starts to ache.

Here are 10 impressive ceilings that you can admire up close, without the crick.

Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, Weißer SaalCharlottenburg Palace

1. Charlottenburg Palace, Hann Trier

Berlin's Schloss Charlottenburg was a monument to Baroque and Rococo architecture and art, styles which favor complex, ostentatious design with lots of passion and flair.

Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, Neuer Flügel, Weißer Saal, Deckengemälde von Antoine Pesne, „Hochzeit des Peleus und der Thetis“ (1742) by Antoine PesneCharlottenburg Palace

Its luscious ceiling painting, done by Antoine Pesne (1683 - 1757), was destroyed during World War Two. After a contentious public selection process, the artist Hann Trier was chosen to paint replacement ceiling works in 1972.

Berlin, Schloss Charlottenburg, Neuer Flügel, Weißer Saal, Deckengemälde (1972) by Hann TrierCharlottenburg Palace

Trier's ceiling pays tribute to the original Baroque style with its curls, flourishes, and golden detailing. The artist brings his own 20th century flair to the work with marble patterning and a modern color palette.

As well as being a productive collision of past and present styles, Trier's ceiling is a technical marvel. In some places he painted with a sponge, and he created this 'rib-like' pattern by painting with both hands at once! Learn more here.

Quire Ceiling (1904) by William Blake RichmondSt. Paul's Cathedral

2. Quire Ceiling, by William Blake Richmond

In the mid-19th century, Queen Victoria suggested that St Paul's Cathedral in London could do with a makeover.

The resulting design by William Blake Richmond is made up of millions of tesserae of glass and gold leaf, and depicts classical cultures and traditional Christian iconography. Zoom in and see the story of creation in mosaic.

Sala di Amore e Psiche - Ceiling (1524/1534) by Giulio RomanoPalazzo Te

3. Sala di Amore e Psiche, by Giulio Romano

The ceiling of the Chamber of Cupid and Psyche in Palazzo Te in Mantua, Italy, is named after the dramatic love story from the 2nd-century book Metamorphoses.

You can also spot scenes from other mythological tales, such as Bacchus and Ariadne, and Venus and Adonis. And don't worry — the ceiling only appears as if it is falling thanks to the geometric variations of its design.

Zucchi ceiling in the Adam Library, Kenwood House Zucchi ceiling in the Adam Library, Kenwood House (c.1769) by Antonio ZucchiOriginal Source: KENWOOD

4. Zucchi Ceiling, by Antonio Zucchi

Situated in the Adam Library of Kenwood House in London, the pale pink and blue design of this ceiling incorporates 13 classical oil paintings by Antonio Zucchi and intricate plasterwork by Joseph Rose.

Zoom in and look out for festoons, demi-boys, swans and vases among the filigree.

Quranic Calligraphy, Fresco, Walls and Dome, Wazir Khan Mosque by Walled City of Lahore AuthorityWalled City of Lahore Authority

5. Wazir Khan Mosque

The interior of the Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan is intricately decorated with Mughal-era frescoes and faience tile work — a type of fine tin-glazed pottery on delicate pale buff earthenware — known as kashi-kari.

The Mosque is considered to be the most ornately decorated Mughal-era mosque!

Ceiling of the Hungarian State Opera (1884) by Károly LotzHungarian State Opera

6. Ceiling of the Hungarian State Opera, by Károly Lotz

This ceiling, known as the Apotheosis of Music, sits amidst the fusion of neo-Renaissance and Baroque styles in the Hungarian State Opera House, and details the Greek Gods on Mount Olympus.

If you look closely you can see Apollo playing the lute surrounded by the gods, graces, muses and demons.

The ceiling panels of Burgtheater's state staircase Volksgartenseite (1886/1887)Burgtheater

7. The Burgtheatre's State Staircase

The panels of this ceiling comprise early work by Gustav and Ernst Klimt and Frank Matsch — a turning point in the young artists' careers. The artwork portrays the history of the theater: on the right you can see the evolution of the theatre itself and three classical playwrights.

On the left, the themes of music, dance and plays.

Marc Chagall’s Ceiling for the Paris Opéra Marc Chagall’s Ceiling for the Paris Opéra (1963-01-01/1964-09-23) by Marc ChagallOpéra national de Paris

8. The Ceiling of the Paris Opera, by Marc Chagall

This circular design from the ceiling of the Paris Opera consists of 12 canvas panels and a round central panel, awash with Marc Chagall's colorful painting.

The designs represent different composers and their works. See if you can recognise Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, Mozart's The Magic Flute and Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette

Israeli Lounge Ceiling Panels (1972) by Shraga WeilThe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

9. Israeli Lounge Ceiling Panels, by Shraga Weil

This vivid, abstract mural painted by Israeli artist Shraga Weil, located in the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, is made up of 40 wooden ceiling panels decorated with acrylic paints and 22-carat gold leaf.

Look closely to see the illustrations of musical events described in the Old Testament and images from the present era.

Hintze Hall ceiling (1881)The Natural History Museum

10. Hintze Hall Ceiling

Dating back to 1881, the ceiling panels of the Natural History Museum's Hintze Hall are hand-illustrated with a huge array of plant species.

If you zoom in you can see varieties such as lemon and pear trees, tobacco plants and rhodendrons — among many, many more. How many types can you spot?

Carnegie Hall's Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage Ceiling and Famous Circle of Lights (1891) by William Burnet TuthillCarnegie Hall

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