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All About Cupolas & Weathervanes

Roof top cupolas are small ornamental structures used on the top of buildings for both decoration and ventilation. Their origins are traced back to 8th century Middle Eastern and Indian architecture. The Moors later bought them to Europe through Spain. Cupolas gained popularity during the Renaissance where they served as belfries to house lights, much like a lighthouse. They became a common structure on churches.

Flag Weathervane and Cupola
House with Horse Weathervane and Cupola

Before the widespread use of ridge vents, a cupola was used to ventilate stables, barns, and houses. They still are used for this purpose today, but are mainly used as a roof decoration and are still an architectural feature on many horse barns, sheds, gazebos, businesses, government buildings, and homes. The raised roof part of a train caboose is also referred to as a cupola.

The word cupola comes from the Latin cupula, meaning “small cupo” or little dome. Cupolas are usually square in shape, but are also popular in round or hexagon shapes. Weathervanes are often added to the top of the cupola for a distinctive touch.

Van Dyke's offers a wide selection of weathervanes and mounting hardware. Choose from a classic wind direction models, a rooster or horse design to a more whimsical selections including birds, pigs, elk, angels, trains, and more.

Angel Weathervane
Horse Weathervane and Copper Cupola

Van Dyke's carries several styles of cupolas in both vinyl and wood including models with copper roofs. Cupolas are sized by measuring the length of the roof line. Then, multiply the number of feet by 1.25. For example a 24-foot roof line would require a 30-inch cupola.

Cupolas come in three sections for easy installation. Installing a cupola is a fairly easy project for someone with basic carpentry skills as demonstrated in the following video from Good Directions.
Red Barn Cupola