Don't miss this one! The Pantheon (pronounced PAN-tee-on) is one of Rome's most important treasures as it's the most well-preserved structure of its age in the city - possibly in the world. Designed by and constructed under Emperor Hadrian in the early 2nd century, it was originally a Roman temple dedicated to 'pan theos'- all the gods - and until the 15th century the dome was the largest ever built. The diameter and height of this 142-foot dome are exactly the same, and a 27" oculus (round opening at the center of the dome) is the only source of interior light.
The Pantheon was spared the building-over or tearing-down of other pre-Christian temples due to its conversion to a Christian church by Pope Boniface IV in AD 609. That still didn't save it from the plundering of bronze roof tiles by Constans II (who sent them to Constantinople) and bronze portico by Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family. Some of material from the portico is said to have been melted down to make cannon for Castel Sant'Angelo, and rest used by Bernini for his magnificant baldacchino in St. Peter's. As the famous saying goes, "What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did!"
Still an active Catholic church dedicated to - here we go again - St. Mary, it's officially known as St. Mary and the Martyrs. It's also a tomb for Italian Kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, painters Raphael and Annibale Carracci, composer Arcangelo Corelli, and architect Baldassare Peruzz.
Entrance is Free. As this is officially a place of worship, proper attire is recommended.
On the left side of the Pantheon as you enter from the main entrance is the tomb of the great Renaissance artist Raphael. Most likely you have seen some of his works during your tour of the Vatican Museums – he only has four rooms dedicated to his works (“The Raphael Rooms”) and his most famous work, The School of Athens draws crowds to view it.
Raphael died young – age 37 – after living a rather full and happy life as a celebrated court painter. Unlike his contemporary Michelangelo, Raphael did not hesitate to enjoy fine food, fine wine, and fine women; in fact, the Renaissance biographer Vasari claims that Raphael’s death was due to an excess of pleasure (I’ll let you figure out which pleasure). Raphael became ill but remained on this earth long enough to understand his plight, put his affairs in order, receive last rites, and dictate his will. One of the points in his will was that he requested to be buried in the Pantheon.
So here he lies in this glorious building that inspired another Renaissance artist and architect to complete the cathedral in Florence. His funeral was large and grand – he was a popular person in Rome and his death was seen as a huge loss. The inscription on his marble sarcophagus reads: Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die.
In Rome, the Pantheon, so great within and without, has overwhelmed me with admiration. Goethe, 1786
The Pantheon began in 27 BC as a temple to all the gods, later to become a secular monument, closed by the Christian emperors because it was a temple to other gods, only to return to church status and consecrated as a Christian church in AD 609. Pillaged by the Goths, then the Byzantines, it was later pillaged by the Catholic church – Pope Urban VIII took the bronze ceiling and had it melted down and turned into the baldacchino that is over the high altar in St. Peter’s Basilica and cannons for the Castel Sant’Angelo. Future popes made attempts to restore and upgrade the Pantheon.
The Pantheon is a perfectly proportioned building with the height and the diameter of the circular interior being the same measurement: 43.3 meters (142 feet). It is basically a sphere that sits inside a cylinder (think of it as a ball that perfectly fits into a can). At the top of the structure is a round opening to let in the natural light – the oculus – which also lets in the natural wet. On my visit to the Pantheon, I learned that the floor is sloped and there are drainage holes to allow the rain water to drain off the floor. It is a massive space once inside – there were many people there during my visit and yet it still seemed empty.
The method of constructing the dome of the Pantheon was lost when the Roman Empire fell, leaving architects to ponder how to create a similar dome – consider the plight of the Florentines who lived with a dome-less cathedral for more than 100 years until Brunelleschi visited Rome, studied the Pantheon, and returned to build the now famous double shelled dome on the Florence Cathedral.
The Pantheon’s interior is round with several recesses. It houses an altar and several tombs, including Vittorio Emanuele II, the first king of Italy, and the master painter Raphael, who requested to be buried in the Pantheon.
On the outside of the Pantheon, the portico is home to 16 huge Corinthian columns. Above the entrance to the portico are the following words: "M. AGRIPPA.L.F.COSTERTIUM.FECIT” which mean “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”. Agrippa didn’t really make the Pantheon but rather the earlier structure in that spot; Hadrian, when rebuilding the Pantheon after the earlier one burned down, had the inscription put on the building in honor of Marcus Agrippa.
Horse-drawn carriages line up outside the Pantheon in hopes of picking up a tourist to take for a ride (for a fee). It is a crowded piazza – and typically where there are lots of tourists, there are scammers and pickpockets. So be careful as you enjoy the Pantheon.
The Pantheon rents an audio guide for visitors; however, Hubby and I both downloaded the free Rick Steves’ audio guide from iTunes before we left, which gave us a good overview of the Pantheon starting with the outside and the moving into the interior. While not always a fan of Rick Steves, I do recommend his audio tours for the sights in Rome.
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 9 am - 6.30 pm and Sun: 9 am –1 pm.
this is the only complete structure that remains from Roman times and you wouldn't realise looking at it - it really has stood the test of time. The Pantheon, although still a funtioning place of worship doesn't really hold services these days - i don't really know how they could with all the tourists in the place, although as we went in February which is out of season the crowds were not too bad.
The dome has an opening which lets in light, but also lets in the rain and elements. The floor of the Pantheon slopes towards the door in order to let the rainwater drain out. There is an also an area directly underneath which has drainage grills.
You must have a look at the tomb of Raphael whilst there - you will see all the people gathered around it. There is also wonderful art and beautiful marble floors.
Watch out for all the gladiators outside touting for business - basically you pay them to have your picture taken with them.
The pantheon went some way to restoring my faith in life and interest in Rome after a very disappointing visit to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. There were lots of people here, too, but the pantheon is big enough to cope with them. Apparently the original temple on this sight was rectangular. The circular structure we see today results from restoration carried out during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian between 118 and 125 AD.
The building was apparently an amazing feat of engineering for its time and should not be able to even stand up at all. The pantheon is a temple to all gods. Inside under the statue of the Virgin Mary lies the grave of Raphael.
There is a hole in the centre of the pantheon's dome. Outside the pantheon was my favourite Roman fountain. The faces carved into it were wonderfully detailed and humorous.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
— from the Holy Bible, Acts 2:1–4
Founded in 1878, the monarchist organization, the National Institute of Honor Guards keeps watch over the royal tombs at the Pantheon. Italy’s first king, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I, as well as Umberto's queen, Margherita are entombed in the Pantheon. In addition the painters Raphael Sanzio da Urbino and Annibale Carracci, the composer Arcangelo Corelli, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi are also entombed here.
The Honor Guards are shown at the Pantheon on Pentecost. Following Mass, baskets of red rose petals are dropped through the Pantheon’s oculus to simulate the descent of the Holy Spirit. The floor becomes a carpet of red (see photo #4).
This is glorious ancient building is a Roman Catholic church, dedicated to Santa Maria ad Martyres, also known as Santa Maria dei Martiri, Our Lady and all Martyrs.
The next day, bursting with anticipation, boarded Tram No. 8 going to Largo Argentina. From there, the Pantheon, a temple consecrated to all the gods of ancient Rome, was a mere 10-minutes walk. There was no need for a map. You ask anyone the directions to the Pantheon and you’ll receive detailed instructions.
This is a huge structure with a canopy at the top and massive pillars in the forecourt standing to the north of Piazza della Rotonda. Somewhat in the middle of the city square is the Fontana del Pantheon, a fountain constructed by Giacomo Della Porta in 1575. An Egyptian obelisk was added to it in 1711. It’s hard to imagine that the Pantheon has withstood the ravages of time for over two centuries (re-built by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD) and the best part is entrance is free.
Once inside, you gaze awe-struck by the huge canopy with an oculus in the centre to let natural light in. The entire round structure has sculptures and paintings of a Christian nature. Straight ahead is an altar and quite a few benches. It’s only then that you realise you are standing in a place of worship, actually a Roman Catholic Church since the 7th century. In the centre is a cordoned off area with holes on the floor. The holes are the outlet for rain water to drain off. Of particular interest is the square design of the floor which is in sharp contrast to the circular nature of the structure.
Most of the exhibits have numbers. These are for the convenience of those who wish to pay for an audio guide. They punch in the number and listen to the commentary pertaining to that particular exhibit. The centre of attraction, undoubtedly, is the marble sarcophagus of Raphael Sanzio, painter and architect par excellence, a person who transcends definition. In his grave is inscribed these immortal words written by Pietro Bembo:
"Ille hic est Raffael, timuit quo sospite vinci, rerum magna parens et moriente mori."
This would mean, "Here lies that famous Raphael by whom Nature feared to be conquered while he lived, and when he was dying, feared herself to die."
Timings: 9 am - 6.30 pm (Mon–Sat); 9 am –1 pm (Sun)
First Written: Aug. 28, 2012
“Walking around it today, it is still possible to experience something of the variety of architectural forms and settings, and the skillful way in which Hadrian and his architect have contrived the meetings of the axes, the surprises that await the turning of a corner, and the vistas that open to view.”
— from “History of Architecture” by Sir Banister Fletcher (1866-1953), he is talking about the Pantheon, the main historic attraction of Piazza della Rotonda
The large square that stretches out in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda . The grand and ancient monument that dominates the square so fully it has given the piazza’s name.
This piazza is the heart of the Centro Storico (historic district) of the city. With its active cafes, bars and restaurants, which encircle the square and its fountain, this piazza is a popular meeting place, for locals and tourists alike; the lively atmosphere continues into the night.
We not only have to thank Pope Gregory XIII for the calendar we use everyday, but also for the elegant, 16th-century, marble fountain, designed by Giacomo della Porta for this pope, that stands at the square’s center. The obelisk at the fountain’s center was found in the Iseo Campense and was placed here in 1711 on the order of Pope Clemens XI; the architect Filippo Barigioni decorated the obelisk’s pedestal with dolphins (see photo #4) and the coats of arms of Clement XI.
One of the city’s best hotels, Albergo del Senato, fronts onto this piazza (see von.otter’s Rome hotel tips for additional information and photos).
The Pantheon ("to every god") is a building, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD.
The Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I as well as the famous Renaissance painter Raphael and his fiancée are buried in the Pantheon. It is a wonderful example of second century Roman architecture. It boasts mathematical genius and simple geometry that today still impresses architects and amazes the eyes of casual viewers.
Opening hours: Mon – Sat: 9 am - 6.30 pm and Sun: 9 am –1 pm.
You can watch my 1 min 14 sec Video Rome Pantheon out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
I thought it could be a lie, but it isn't. Of course it’s old. Two thousand years…? With such architecture?
Let me collect some details from internet:
"The portico consists of three rows of eight columns, 14 m (46 feet) high of Egyptian granite with Corinthian capitals. They support an entablature facing the square, which bears the famous inscription in Latin, attributing the construction to Agrippa, although the extant temple was rebuilt later by Hadrian.
The dome has a span of 43.2 m (142 feet), the largest dome until Brunelleschi's dome at the Florence Cathedral of 1420-36.
The interior volume is a cylinder above which springs the half sphere of the dome. A whole sphere can be inscribed in the interior volume, with the diameter at the floor of the cylinder of 43.3 m (143 feet) equaling the interior height.
Five rows of twenty-eight square coffers of diminishing size radiate from the central unglazed oculus with a diameter of 8.7 m (29 feet) at the top of the dome.
The dome is constructed of stepped rings of solid concrete with less and less density as lighter aggregate (pumice) is used, diminishing in thickness to about 1.2 m (4 feet) at the edge of the oculus. The dome rests on a cylinder of masonry walls 6 m (20 feet). Hidden voids and the interior recesses hollow out this construction, so that it works less as a solid mass and more like three continuous arcades which correspond to the three tiers of relieving arches visible on the building exterior. Originally, these exterior walls were faced with colored marbles."
Watching such an harmonious building...would you believe?
Albergo Del Senato Rome
5 Reviews and 1440 Opinions The Pantheon is my favorite building in Rome and might be my favorite building in the world. The...
Campo De' Fiori Rome
5 Reviews and 894 Opinions It has been completely renovated but still with a very traditional elegant decor. I am not sure if...
Hotel Lancelot Rome
5 Reviews and 793 Opinions This Christmas, for the first time ever, we were away for the holidays. The family arrived at...
see all Rome member meetings