14 Sep Historical Roofs: Famous Tombs
In the past couple weeks we’ve looked at a couple beautiful roofs in Buddhist culture, as well as some stunning roofs in Europe on buildings made for religious purposes. With October and Halloween season around the bend, we thought it would be fitting to get ourselves prepared by taking a look at two gorgeously crafted tombs. While these final resting places were made by two very different cultures in different parts of the world, the similarities between them are hard to miss…
Taj Mahal in India
The Taj Mahal in Uttar Pradesh is one of the most famous structures in the world, and is the shining center of Muslim art and culture in India. However, it was originally built under the order of the Shah Jahan, the Persian emperor of the Mughal empire, as a tomb for the princess, Mumtaz Mahal, his greatest love. Construction of the Taj Mahal took 21 years, from 1632 to 1653. The construction required the employment of 20,000 artisans from around the world to create what would become known as the peak of Mughal architecture. The final cost of the tomb would equate to $827 million in America, today. The most famous thing about it’s design is the giant onion dome (or amrud, in Arabic) which encapsulates the actual tomb. It stands 115 feet high, and rests on a base which adds another 27 feet. What’s particularly impressive about this is that the dome is almost entirely made of white marble with precious stones inlaid into the design. The very top the dome is decorated with an intricate lotus flower design, and topped with a gilded gold finial that points to heaven. The Taj Mahal’s construction was the cultural landmark of Shah Jahan’s reign. Fitting, as he would be buried there, next to princess Mahal, after his death.
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
Contrary to popular perception, St. Peter’s Basilica is not a cathedral, as there is no ordained priest assigned there. It is actually a tomb, an architectural marvel constructed on the final resting place of St. Peter. It is widely considered to be one of the greatest buildings in Roman Catholic history. The construction of the current basilica featured seven principle architects in a project that spanned over 120 years. It would be impossible to calculate the exact cost, but historians acknowledge that construction costs would exceed well over $1 billion by today’s standards. At the center of it, an elliptical dome stands nearly 394 feet tall, and only took 22 months to build. The interior of the dome is made from a concrete mix that was developed by the Romans, with volcanic rock mixed in to make it lighter. The outer dome was primarily made from a heavier concrete that was laid in a herringbone pattern, where the pieces fit in an inverted “v” design in order to prevent pressure. After the main body of the dome was done, it was fitted with three iron hoops and covered with thin slabs of travertine to protect it from the elements and eventual wear-and-tear. The dome is such an achievement because it is an almost perfect catenary curve, in which all parts are supporting each other’s weight with only two points of support suspended in perfect equilibrium. Atop it stands a large Catholic cross that, just like the Taj Mahal, points to heaven.