10 Amazing Ceilings

1King's College Chapel at the University of Cambrigde

At a charity event held at the University of Cambridge, a Paris-based, digital projection artist, Miguel Chevalier, turned the university's 16th-century King's College Chapel into a stunning backdrop for his hypnotizing light show. As each speaker at the "Dear World… Yours, Cambridge" event spoke, the chapel was filled with projections that artfully illustrated their points.

The projections, specially designed for the famous chapel's interior, either emphasized or hid the building's extraordinary architecture. The chapel is one of the best examples of Perpendicular Gothic design in the world, so its ornate decorations were worth seeing even before they served as a backdrop for Chevalier's artistry.

2Bridal Chamber at the Ducal Palace

The Camera degli Sposi ("bridal chamber")—also known as the Camera picta ("painted chamber")—is a room frescoed with illusionistic paintings by Andrea Mantegna in the Ducal Palace in Mantua, Italy. It was painted between 1465 and 1474 and commissioned by Ludovico III Gonzaga and is notable for the use of trompe l'oeil details and its di sotto in sù ceiling.

Mantegna's playful ceiling presents an oculus that opens into a blue sky, with foreshortened putti playfully frolicking around a balustrade.

The Palazzo Ducale di Mantova ("Ducal Palace") was built between the 14th and the 17th-century by the Gonzaga family as their royal residence.

3Starbucks Concept Store In Amsterdam

In 2012, coffee giant Starbucks opened a new concept store in a former bank building on Rembrandtplein in the heart of Amsterdam. The cafe is located in the basement of the building in what used to be an underground bank vault and is unlike a standard Starbucks. It is built from a combination of recycled and local materials—the benches, tables, and the fascinating ceiling art consists of 1,876 pieces of individually sawn wooden blocks made from repurposed Dutch oak, and the walls are lined with wooden gingerbread molds, bicycle inner tubes, and antique Delft tiles. It was designed by Liz Muller, Starbucks Concept Director, who brought on 35 local artists and craftspeople to transform the historic space into the hip coffee shop.

4The Dome of Light at the Formosa Boulevard Station in Kaohsiung, Taiwan

Half metro station, half kaleidoscope, this dazzling "Dome of Light" is said to be the largest glass work in the world. The dome, consisting of 4,500 panels, was made by Narcissus Quagliata, an Italian designer who subtitled it "Wind, Fire, and Time." Given the ecclesiastical appearance of this art installation, it should come as no surprise that it's been proposed as a venue for mass weddings.

5Heaven of Delight at the Royal Palace in Brussels

At first glance, "Heaven of Delight" looks like a beautiful painting, but in reality, it's made out of 1,600,000 jewel scarab wing cases.

During the 19th century, it was customary for the king of Belgium to give space in the Royal Palace to contemporary artists. (This tradition died with King Leopold II in 1909.) Fortunately, Queen Paola is an art enthusiast and decided to revive the custom by commissioning artwork by artist Jan Fabre.

With the help of 29 young artists, Fabre created "Heaven of Delight," a fresco in the Hall of Mirrors, out of the glowing shells of jewel scarabs. It contains various shapes that glow in a greenish-blue light, depending on the angle from which they are viewed.

Jewel beetles are not a protected species, so it was easy for Jan Favreau to gather them from countries like Thailand, where they are eaten as a delicacy, and use them for his art.

6The shell grotto in the Palazzo Borromeo on Isola Bella, Italy

Of the many sights to see on Isola Bella, one of the most wondrous of all is the shell grotto in the Palazzo Borromeo. The stately palace dominates one side of the island while its elaborate, ten-tiered, Baroque-style gardens fill the opposite side. Connecting the two areas is the shell grotto.

The series of six rooms were conceived in 1685, by Vitaliano the Sixth, with the aid of the architect Filippo Cagnulo. It took 100 years to complete them.

The rooms provide a refuge from the summer heat in the cavern-like coolness. Every inch of space, including ceilings, floors, and archways, is covered in a mosaic of black and white shells and pebbles.

7Fringe ceiling at the Monsoon Club in Washington, DC

London and Mumbai-based architects (Christopher Lee, Kapil Gupta) have completed "The Monsoon Club" a multi-purpose performance space at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.

This terrace gallery art installation features a three-dimensional carpet that has been suspended over the main space, creating a dynamic and intimate atmosphere for the venue. It was designed for the Maximum India Festival in 2011.

8Mirrored ceiling in Bella Italia Winery in Germany

Experience the warmth of Sicily and the best of Italian wine in this wine store and restaurant in Stuttgart, Germany. Occupying the ground floor of a five-story brick house in rustic Wilhelminian style, Bella Italia Weine does not give much away from the outside. But step inside the restaurant, and you will be overwhelmed your own reflection from the more than 90 different mirrors on the ceiling. (If only the wicked Queen from Snow White had known of Bella's existence!)

German architects Gunter Fleitz and Peter Ippolito from the Ippolito Fleitz Group designed the restaurant's eccentric interiors.

9Sheikh Lutf Allah Mosque in Isfahan, Iran

Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque was completed in 1619 after nearly 20 years and stands as a magnificent and detailed public work. However, when it was originally built it was a private and luxurious place of worship for Shah Abbas I and the women of his court.

Lavished with elaborate calligraphy of Quranic verses and multi-colored mosaics, the mosque is fit for a king. Every tile was laid with precision, and the main dome is dominated by a peacock that changes color and shape as light bounces off of the mosque's interior.

10Toledo Metro Station in Naples, Italy

If you are looking for an excuse to travel to Naples, we can offer the perfect one—Metro Napoli's Art Stations. The Art Stations program has been going on for some time with artists, designers, and architects including Alessandro Mendini, Anish Kapoor, Gae Aulenti Jannis Kounellis, Karim Rashid, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Sol LeWitt contributing.

One of the coolest is the 13th Art Station of the Naples Metro system, the Toledo Metro Station that opened in September 2012. It was designed by the Spanish firm of architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca.