I noticed this time I went to Stockholm, many of the traditional buildings has this green-sea color at the top of their roofs. For example, this is a common color in the towers of the buildings.

I am seeing also that buildings in Norway are painted with the same color, like the Trondheim cathedral.

Is there any historical reason for this? Any reference about this architecture feature?

  • Probably copper. You'll see this in Vancouver too. – hippietrail Oct 30 '14 at 9:23

It comes down to a couple of reasons, for convenience and well, other:

Copper is often used in roofing, both being an economical long term solution and looking good. It's also very malleable and easily shaped for domes and curves.

When properly designed and installed, a copper roof provides an economical, long-term roofing solution. Tests on European copper roofs from the 18th century showed that, in theory, copper roofs can last one thousand years

Then why green? From the introduction of that article:

Copper’s most famous trait is its display from a bright metallic colour to iridescent brown to near black and finally to a greenish verdigris patina. Architects describe the array of browns as russet, chocolate, plum, mahogany, and ebony. The metal’s distinctive green patina has long been coveted by architects and designers.

This suggests that it's a building convenience, cost-saving, and trendy measure, copied and shared between architects and builders throughout Europe.

One final coincidence is that 2 Kings 19:26 mentions 'the grass on the housetops', and perhaps it's a pleasant coincidence to have a green-topped building.

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    Great answer. This (Norwegian) newspaper article explains how they got the roof green after doing some restoration. Directly translated: "We have used urine from cows and horses which we smeared on the copper, and thus we get the green color in a relatively short time [...]" – Stewie Griffin Oct 30 '14 at 9:04
  • @JoeBlow these weren't exactly built in the modern economy...they're old. – Mark Mayo Oct 30 '14 at 11:24
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    yes, but it's just a silly comment on wikipedia. it's almost impossible to CU now with the cost. you have to just go with lead. ("just") the price exploded a few yrs back. Robert's linked article is about modern use of copper – Fattie Oct 30 '14 at 11:50
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    Could also add that Sweden had several copper mines, and from the copper they made enormous "coins" , which actually were suited to be used as roofing-tiles as they were. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_copper_currency_in_Sweden – Baard Kopperud Jul 29 '17 at 3:46
  • Note that using heavy metals like copper and lead in roofs can pollute the ground and surface water if used on a large scale. Heavy metals are quite toxic. – RHA Jan 9 '19 at 18:39

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