In a close view the domes and towers of Basilica Sacré Coeur crowd on top of each other.
From a little further away the building shows its familiar silhouette with stepped roofs leading up through four small domes with pepper pot towers to the high central dome.
Most of the domes which are landmarks on the Paris skyline have a more rounded form. The dome of the seventeenth century Église Val de Grace is ringed by small dormer windows with a tempting viewing gallery (not open to the public) on top…
yet from inside you see a ring of clerestory window around a central vault.
I’ve not been inside the Pantheon since the renovation of the dome was completed, so I’m not sure how inside and outside views fit together. There must be some fascinating stairways and round galleries that the public never sees here.
The dome at Les Invalides was something of an afterthought. The original hospital and retirement home for wounded soldiers, commissioned by Louis XIV in 1670, included a chapel which the residents were obliged to attend. After the inauguration of the hospital Louis decided that the chapel wasn’t appropriate for royal visits and commissioned a separate royal chapel at the back of the main building.
A simple, round topped dome wasn’t grand enough for le Roi-Soleil. His gold trimmed dome was crowned with a sizeable spire so it could’t be overlooked.