In architecture, a cupola // is a small, most often dome-like, structure on top of a building. Often used to provide a lookout or to admit light and air, it usually crowns a larger roof or dome.
Cupolas on the towers of Montefiascone Cathedral, Italy.
Cupolas were also used on some old barns for ventilation.
The cupola is a development during the Renaissance of the oculus, an ancient device found in Roman architecture, but being weatherproof was superior for the wetter climates of northern Europe. The chhatri, seen in Indian architecture, fits the definition of a cupola when it is used atop a larger structure.
Cupolas often appear as small buildings in their own right. They often serve as a belfry, belvedere, or roof lantern above a main roof. In other cases they may crown a spire, tower, or turret.  Barns often have cupolas for ventilation.
Some armored fighting vehicles have cupolas in the form of a raised dome or cylinder with armored glass to provide 360-degree vision around the vehicle.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cupolas.|
- "Glossary of Architectural Terms - C". Archiseek: Online Architecture Resources. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
- "cupola". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. Dictionary.com. 2010. Retrieved 17 March 2010.
- "Just what is a cupola anyway?". Cupola Consulting. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
- In Italian cupola simply means dome, and the ornamental top element is called lanterna.