There’s a great chance that you’re reading this sitting or laying under a roof. Roofs are an integral part of architecture, but most of us simply don’t pay any attention to them. However, once you start looking closely, you’ll notice how different roofs look in different parts of the world.

In this post we’ll be looking at some of the most intriguing and beautiful roof styles you can find around the world.

  1. Tata-Somba House – Togo, Africa

Africa’s mud houses are a pretty remarkable site, thanks in no small part to their distinctly-shaped roofs. The traditional Tata-Somba houses are particularly interesting because of the simple utility they provide to the Tammari people that inhabit them.

A Tata-Somba house usually has a basement for livestock and drying areas for grain on the roof. There are thatch coverings between these areas to protect those underneath from the brutal African sun.

2. Angel Roofs – East Anglia, UK

Angel roofs are known as such because they are predominantly adorned with carved images of – you guessed it – angels. These roofs are a product of 14th century English architecture, an era in which the English were practically unrivaled in their sophistication. Angel roofs are beautiful to behold, and just as complex to build.

They’re a testament to the carpentry skills of 14th century English builders and can be found in churches located in East Anglia (Norfolk and Suffolk).

3. Hospices – Beaune, Burgundy, France

The Burgundy region in France is famous for its wine, but for architects there’s another great attraction here. The roofs of Hospices in Beaune have a special geometric pattern which is absolutely enchanting to look at. If you’re visiting this area you simply cannot help but notice them.

These roofs belong to hospices (hospitals and healthcare facilities) that date back to the 15th century, so they’ve got plenty of history as well.

4. Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia

This iconic opera house took 14 years to complete at a cost of around 102 million Australian dollars, more than 13 times its original budget. But the result is an architectural masterpiece that is globally recognized.

A major part of this building’s appeal is of course its beautiful, curvaceous roof. The roof consists of separate ‘shells’ that are precast concrete panels covered by a staggering million-plus Swedish tiles.

5. St. Basil’s Cathedral – Moscow, Russia

The colorful onion-like domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral in Russia have become synonymous with the country’s traditional architecture. The roofs actually serve an important purpose. Moscow tends to get a lot of snow during winter, and the unique roofing element was made to prevent snow from piling up.

It’s quite amazing to see a functional design become symbolic – it is now said to represent a burning candle.

6. The Igloo – Canada

You might think spending a night in an Igloo in Canada’s extreme (low) temperatures would be unpleasant, to say the least. However, this structure made completely out of ice and snow is able to keep its occupants in warm comfort.

Igloos feature a domed roof not just because it makes them look really cute, but also to retain the body heat of the persons inside. This heat is circulated inside the igloo, producing a temperature difference of about 50 degrees between the inside and outside. Quite an impressive feat of engineering.

7. Duomo Di Milano – Milan, Italy

The Duomo Di Milano is a perfect representation of gothic architectural design. With countless spires (most spired building across Europe) pointing towards the sky, this massive structure looks like it could last a millennium.


8. Fale – Samoa

Traditional Samoan houses or ‘Fale’ as they’re called, feature long wooden poles with a dome-shaped thatched roof on the top. These buildings are particularly striking to look at as the expansive roof absolutely dominates the structure.

Fale come in all sizes – small and large. Interestingly, there are no walls inside the Samoan Fale, which promotes social connection between the occupants. These houses may appear simple at first, but notice closely and you’ll see complex woven patterns which can take months to complete.

9. Turf House – Iceland

The turf house was a common Icelandic tradition until the mid 20th century. Until then, Icelanders belonging to all social classes lived in turf houses.

The turf house was built because of an abundance of available turf. More importantly, the thick turf walls and roof were designed to keep the house’s occupants warm. The turf helps to insulate the house against the brutal, long winters of Iceland.

These days, turf houses have been abandoned due to modern amenities such as central heating, and also because of the high maintenance costs. Still, there are quite a few remaining turf houses which have been maintained to conserve the heritage of the country.

10. Grand Palace – Bangkok, Thailand

The Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand spans about 2.35 million square feet and features some spectacularly beautiful buildings. But none of the buildings is as striking to behold as the Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat (throne hall).

The roof of this building is full of detail featuring symbolism of Thai culture and history. Needless to say, the king of Thailand has quite an impressive home.


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