In architecture, a cupola (pron.: //) 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 often appear as small buildings in their own right. They often serve as a lantern, belfry, or belvedere above a main roof. In other cases they may crown a tower, spire, or turret. The chhatri, seen in Indian architecture, fits the definition of a cupola when it is used atop a larger structure.
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 square dome-like segment of a North American railroad train caboose is also called a cupola.
See also 
- "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. Cupola.com. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
- In Italian cupola simply means dome, and the ornamental top element is called lanterna.
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