The dome that doesn’t exist: the secret of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola

October 16, 2023
The dome that doesn’t exist: the secret of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola

Estimated Reading Time: 2min 45 sec

The city of Rome is home to numerous churches, each one unique and worthy of a visit. However, there is only one with a dome that doesn’t exist. Do you want to know more of the church that appears to have a dome, but actually does not have one at all? Read on or… ask us to take you there with one of our TOURS and show you the optical illusion of the Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola. The only place in Rome where you can witness a dome, that doesn’t exist; a spectacular optical illusion.

Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola: The Dome is Only an Illusion

The Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola is a beautiful example of Italian Baroque, both in its architectural structure and decorations. This wonderful church has a unique feature. The dome was never actually constructed, but thanks to an optical illusion, it gives the impression of having one.

Why The Fake Dome?

The church is located in Campo Marzio. It was built in the 17th century, but as the construction was nearing completion, it became evident that there were no longer sufficient financial resources to finish the work with a dome. The task of remedying this conspicuous absence was entrusted to a Jesuit friar and painter, Andrea del Pozzo. He  devised a pictorial stratagem to evoke the vaulted ceiling. How did he do it?

Sant'Ignazio False Dome text

Sant’Ignazio – The False Dome

How did they realize the optical illusion?

Andrea del Pozzo  placed a perspective painting on canvas above the ceiling, which, when viewed from a specific point, creates the illusion of three dimensions. To admire this spectacular optical illusion, one must move toward the altar and stand on the golden circle located in the marble floor of the central nave. It is from here, and only from here, that when you raise your eyes to the ceiling, the deception is truly remarkable.

Come to Rome and take one of our TOURS. We’ll take you to see the only church in Rome that seems to have a dome, but does not have one! Come and #feeltheessence.