The Pantheon — one of the most famous monuments anywhere in Rome — is unlike any structure in the world because of its circular shape.
The dome is not completely closed — there is an opening on top, the oculus, a point of much curiosity. A lot of people wonder about what happens when it rains – does water get in? The answer is... yes! Holes in the floor let the water drain down so puddles don’t form.
Credits foto: http://www.pantheonroma.com
The word Pantheon is Greek, also used by Romans to mean temple of all gods, as it was dedicated to many divinities.
Built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus, it was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian after several fires. The facade bears the inscription "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the Third Time, built this."
Credits @eliskavrbova on Instagram
In 609 AD, it became a Christian basilica named Santa Maria ad Martyres.
The many stories surrounding the Pantheon are little known.
- The dome is 43.4 meters high (over 132 feet) and wide 43.4 meters wide. It is counted among the largest in the world, alongside the dome of St Peter's and Brunelleschi's dome in Florence.
- It weighs 5,000 tons. What keeps it up? Concrete, tuff stone, and pumice are used in different compositions, gradually becoming lighter as they move up to the peak. It’s an architectural and engineering masterpiece, and all the more amazing considering the era it was built in.
- The granite for the columns came from Egypt, and the marble blocks on the capitals from Greece. The entire Empire contributed to building it!
- At one point the dome was covered with golden tiles, later removed. Pope Barberini took off the bronze that covered the pronao to make the canopy over the altar in St. Peter’s (made by Bernini).
- There were two bell towers for a couple centuries, made by Bernini, but they were unpopular and were removed in 1883.
- Over the centuries, many buildings have been inspired by the Pantheon, including the British Museum and the library of Columbia University in New York.
- On one special day a year, the sunrays at noon cross the Pantheon to fall on the entrance door.
- Many illustrious people are buried here, the most famous of whom are Raphael, the King of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II, his son and wife, Queen Margherita (yes, the very one who gave her name to the classic Pizza Margherita!).
- During Pentecost, thousands of red rose petals are rained from the dome on worshippers to mark the descent of the Holy Spirit.
- In 2015, almost 7 million people visited the Pantheon, inspiring Minister Francheschini to consider charging an entrance fee.
- Last time the New Zealand All Blacks Rugby team played in Italy, they visited the Pantheon and shot a #mannequinchallenge video!!!
- In 1975 a group of American students got to climb to the top of the dome!
As it’s a church, mass is celebrated here on Sunday morning and other religious holidays like Christmas, Epiphany, and All Saints’ Day. Tourists are requested to respect the religion in their dress and behavior.
This is the official App to visit the Pantheon:
Address: Piazza della Rotonda 00186 Rome (close to our hotel!)
Weekdays: 09:00am to 7:15pm
Sunday: 9:00am to 5:45pm
Public holidays: 9:00am - 12:45pm