The Pantheon

Pantheon in Rome, Italy

©Esme_Vos/flickr

The Pantheon might be one of the most astonishing buildings in the world. It’s certainly not one of the largest and then the look and feel of anything of course depends on personal taste. However, the mere fact that the Pantheon has been built 2000 years ago and in terms of construction still holds some world records, it’s more than amazing.

The History of the Pantheon

The inside of the Pantheon in Rome, Italy

Eustaquio Santimano/flickr

The Pantheon’s original purpose was a place for the gods. The name “Pantheon” in Greek basically means all gods (pan=all and Theos = God). People have interpreted many other meanings into the name, but what’s the most astonishing is that throughout history, religious buildings had always been destroyed during some wars. In the case of the Pantheon, the catholic church accepted the holy structure as a building for the one god and actually made a resting place for their popes out of it.

The Pantheon was originally built by Agrippa, the son-in-law of Augustus Ocatvian. A reference of this is given on the front side of the building with the words “”M. AGRIPPA L. F. COS. TERTIUM FECIT””, which basically means Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius who was in his third consulate. The original building was constructed in 27 B.C. In the first century A.D. there had been many fires in the ancient city of Rome and the original Pantheon burned down several times until finally the emperor Hadrian rebuilt the Pantheon in 123 A.D. The exact date of the latest version of the Pantheon had been unknown until the French archaeologist, George Chedanne discovered that all new bricks in the walls actually had the years stamped into them.

What we see today is exactly what Hadrian had built back then and although the cone, which is the largest of its kind has no steal reinforcements, the cone miraculously still stands. Several cracks in the dome had been discovered recently, but the Pantheon has stood tall for almost 2000 years as we see it today and the bigger threat to it are fumes and acid rain.

Even today, engineers are wondering how it is possible to build a dome without any iron reinforcements and would never dare to build anything like it by todays safety standards.

Visiting the Pantheon

When you go visit the Pantheon today, you’ll be amazed at the sheer size of the building and the perfect spherical inner space. from top to bottom you could fit a huge ball inside. If you look to the top, there is an opening where the rain can fall in. Also, the Pantheon is free to enter, and you will never be alone inside. It closes rather early at 6:30pm on most days except Sunday (1pm).

Opening Hours:  Mon – Sat: 9 am – 6.30 pm and Sun: 9 am –1 pm

Admission: FREE

How to get there: Easy, you can simply walk from anywhere in the city center. The Pantheon is located between the Piazza Navona and the Fontana di Trevi.

Tips: Don’t grab lunch or coffee there, it’s extremely expensive and just one or two side streets away, it will be much cheaper. Also, if you go thereafter 6pm, the square in front of the Pantheon turns into a lively outdoor hangout where young locals as well as tourist enjoy some drinks.

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