Roof lantern

As a lantern (from the Greek lampter for "Chandelier, torch " ) is called (open or with windows ) on a building or part of a building, a round, square or polygonal tower-like attachment.

Lantern as dome cap

In older domed lantern is an openwork structure above the dome eye. Much like a Oculus (example: Rome, Pantheon ) was a lantern of illumination of the dome interior and of the underlying space part. The incident by a lantern daylight is subdued than in an open oculus, but it offers in contrast to this is also a protection against the weather.

In the ancient architecture is not occurring, and rarely found in the medieval Romanesque and Gothic architecture ( exceptions: Baptisteries of Lenno, Lomello and Florence, Cologne, St. Apostles; Palermo, Cathedral, Ely Cathedral, St- Michel d' Entraigues; Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie ), forms the lantern at churches and official buildings of the Renaissance and Baroque almost always represents the completion of a dome or a Vierungsgewölbes and often represents an important source of daylight

On the other hand, at least no longer used since the 18th century, most dome lights (eg Aachen Cathedral, Cathedral of Perigueux, Abbey church of Souillac, Sacré- Cœur de Montmartre) for exposure of the interior, but are first and foremost as a representative and the building to see überhöhende ' jewelry items.

Lantern to the exposure of the Interior (San Louis of the French, Rome)

Light from the outside ( Baptistery of San Giovanni, Florence)

Lantern as tower attachment

Also openwork towers on towers are called lantern, although it did not serve the exposure of the lower position building. The dome over the lanterns often comparatively large tower lanterns had in antiquity and the Middle Ages warning functions ( lighthouses ) or guard functions ( church, town hall and towers ). Become functionless In later times, the act - now that has grown smaller - lanterns since the late Renaissance (see below) and Baroque architecture as pure decoration.


The origin of all architecture lanterns located in the ancient lighthouses (eg: Pharos of Alexandria, Hercules Tower in A Coruña), in their lanterns every evening on a - possibly amplified by mirrors - beacon was lit.

While the tradition of the construction of lighthouses in the Mediterranean in the Islamic period gradually disappeared, she was in northern Europe almost uninterruptedly until well into the 20th century.


Long time before the start of lanterns as an architectural element in the Christian European architecture they can be found as an attachment on minarets in their architecture - were deliberately modeled in part on ancient lighthouses - especially in the north of Africa.

Already some of the early minarets of Islamic art have lantern -like turrets (eg: Kairouan, Samarra ). Under the Almohads they flourished: With a lantern as the upper tower completed in the 12th century, the Great Mosque of Taza, the Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh and the Giralda, the former minaret as the cathedral of Seville is called. However, their actual or symbolic function is unclear: Shelter and / or sound amplifier for the muezzin or a pure - but pointing in the sky - architecture element? Minarets, however, were used as watchtowers - so the lanterns could have served as a shelter for the person or watchman.

Also on pure - but representative - functional buildings of the Islamic world lanterns are also fragmented (eg: Seville, Torre del Oro ).


Accomplished most Romanesque or Gothic spiers of central and northern Europe, mostly in semi - or steep-roofed or - partially broken - pointed helmets, so there are in Italy, some towers, stepped back with platforms and on completion of lantern -like essays, which probably also a wake function approached (eg: Trani Cathedral Campanile; Modena, Cathedral Campanile; Salerno Cathedral Campanile; Cefalù, Cathedral facade towers). This - encountered more in the south of Italy and Sicily, that is, near the Mediterranean and the Islamic culture area - but architectural tradition ends with the flowering of the Renaissance. A nice example of a late Gothic tower lantern can be found on the north tower of the Cathedral of Rodez ( 1513-1526 ).

Builders and architects of the Renaissance waived - a deliberate echo of the ancient world - largely on the Towers of all types (except Dijon, Saint -Michel ).

Only since the late Renaissance, in the age of ATTACHING back to medieval thought and construction Counter-Reformation, church towers are built and finished with domes or caps, on which sit small lanterns again; However, the domes or hoods have now only a supporting or mediating function and are only rarely or not at all in the interior of the - exposed lanterns - a total now useless and mostly decorative or representative intentioned. Probably they are the towers of the given by Philip II commissioned the Church of San Lorenzo de El Escorial (1563-1584), which justify this new tradition, which asserts itself more and more in the Baroque period (eg: Zaragoza, Basilica del Pilar; pilgrimage church of the Fourteen Saints ).

Large baroque steeple lanterns without intermediate coupling can be found in London (eg: St Paul 's Cathedral, St Mary- le- beach ), and later also in the - of many building traditions largely untouched - north of Germany (examples: Dresden Hofkirche, Hamburg, St. Michaelis ).


In the city-states of northern Italy, but also in other cities of Europe, the secular rulers were often in competition with the clergy - a fact which is also reflected in the architecture, because often enough kindled an inner-city battle for the highest and most beautiful tower. On or adjacent to Palazzi of Fine towers were built, many of which are in the center of a dealing platform and lantern -like essays have (eg: Volterra, Florence, Siena, Modena, Ferrara). Since most of the towers were used as watchtowers, it is quite likely that these lanterns were used as shelters for the tower guards, who for the ringing of - located on or inside the lanterns - warning bells were responsible.


In two of the 15 surviving medieval towers in San Gimignano ( Italy) have been preserved stone lantern -like essays. Whether the other towers were built without lanterns or whether they - now destroyed - wore wooden towers, is one outstanding issue. Anyway, these turrets are likely to have had similar security features as the same time established church tower and town hall lanterns.

Clock towers

On many built by the British in the home country as well as in their (former) colonial empire clock towers (English Clock Tower ) of the 19th and early 20th century can be found lantern essays (Examples: London, "Big Ben", Belfast, ' Albert Memorial Clock Tower "; Montreal, " Clock Tower "; Mumbai, " Rajabai Tower " and others). Also, the " Torre Monumental" called Clock Tower in Buenos Aires is a British gift. With their representative or sovereign implications lanterns underline the grand symbolism of the clock towers.



Also on some skyscrapers from the first half of the 20th century, whose graded in height architecture is based on ancient lighthouses or minarets, tower-like towers were built, which are called lanterns (eg: Singer Building, New York, Wrigley Building, Chicago; Woolworth Building, New York, Metropolitan Life Tower, New York). With the increasing dominance of the so-called " International Style " in the high-rise architecture of the second half of the 20th century the roofs of skyscrapers remained flat with no attachments (eg: MetLife Building, New York, John Hancock Center, Chicago; World Trade Center, New York).

Eastern Bloc countries

The socialist classicism, that is, the Stalinist- dominated high-rise architecture of the postwar period (eg: Lomonosov University in Moscow, the Palace of Culture in Warsaw Palace of Culture in Riga and others) builds in its form language turn out to U.S. models the first half of the 20th century. On top of the buildings lantern essays are consistently representative intentioned (see " Seven Sisters (Moscow )").

Modern lantern essays

Also around the turn of the millennium lanterns were built as building towers; some function as light every evening game ( eg: Cologne, doctors house on Neumarkt ). In this context, the headlamp games on the Eiffel Tower or high-rise buildings are to be mentioned.

Light as pillars essay

In medieval Europe often encountered (especially in Aquitaine ) were lanterns as statements of - mostly located in cemeteries - freestanding columns or pillars ( dead lights, lanterns dead ). With the advent of the Renaissance, however, ended this - rather the folk and superstition arrested - tradition.