The Fake Dome of The Church of St. Ignatius

One of Rome’s lesser-known attractions, the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Chiesa di Sant'Ignazio di Loyola in Italian), lies just a block away from the Pantheon. This incredible 17th century baroque church has a towering façade that dominates the Piazza, and a lavishly decorated interior that’s considered one of the best in the entirety of Rome.

The first thing most visitors do when they step inside this church dedicated to the founder of the Jesuit order is look up at the sumptuous frescoes that decorate the huge ceiling. The grandiose fresco painted by Andrea Pozzo depicts the triumph of St. Ignatius and the apostolic goals of Jesuit missionaries, eager to expand the reach of Roman Catholicism across the world. The ceiling appears to be a high and vaulted decorated with statues and populated with flying figures. In reality the roof is flat. Pozzo gave the ceiling an illusion of height using anamorphic techniques. A marble disk set into the middle of the nave floor marks the ideal spot from which observers might fully experience the illusion.

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fake dome of Church of St. Ignatius

The fake dome and vaulted ceiling of Church of St. Ignatius in Rome. Photo: Fabianodp/


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