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The Pantheon is the most well-preserved building from ancient Rome. I visited the Pantheon on the first night I was in Rome. It is still my favorite photo I have EVER taken (hint it’s the one below). I came back to it a day or two later to see the interior of the building and was truly impressed.
Visiting the Roman Pantheon
You don’t need a whole lot of time here, about an hour will do. The hop on hop off bus tour thru the Omnia card gets you close to the Pantheon, it’s just a short walk away from a few of their stops. There is no entrance fee to get in, perfect for you budget travelers! There is the option to pickup an audio guide or book a tour if you so wish. Recently they also released an app, which looks like a great way to explore the building!
Fast Facts about the Pantheon
Now that I’ve covered the basics of what you need to know in order to visit the Pantheon, here’s some interesting facts about the ancient wonder.
1. The name “Pantheon” is from the Ancient Greek “Pantheion” (Πάνθειον) meaning “of, relating to, or common to all the gods.”
History of the Pantheon
2. It was completed in c. 126 AD in the reign of Hadrian.
3. The dome is a creation by Roman architects and is virtually intact.
4. Due to a lack of written records, many unknowns surround the present-day Pantheon, including who designed it and how long its construction took.
5. The purpose of the building is not known. However, the name, porch and pediment decoration suggest a temple. It may have been where the emperor could make public appearances.
The Building of the Pantheon
6. It was built on the same site of two earlier Pantheon buildings, one commissioned by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa (27-25 BC) which was destroyed by fire in 80 AD. The second by Domitian, which was struck by lightning in 110 AD and again burned down.
7. The dome is concrete and the external surface was originally covered in sheets of bronze.
8. At the top of the dome there is an opening, also know as an Oculus, which is 8.8 meters or about 29 feet in diameter.
9. It maybe the first building from Classical architecture where the interior is deliberately made to outshine the exterior.
10. The ancient floor has a concave center which is convex at the sides with a drainage system for the removal of rain water.
11. The Pantheon is dedicated to Marcus Agrippa and the inscription reads:
M. AGRIPPA L.F. COS TERTIUM FECIT
which translates to (Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, three-time consul, made this).
12. Below the main inscription is a smaller one indicating the restorations carried out by Septimius Severus and Caracalla in 202 AD and reads:
pantheum vetustate corruptum cum omni cultu restituerunt
(with every refinement they restored the Pantheum, worn by age).
13. The tomb of Raphael is seen above, made in honor of his work as a painter and architect. After Raphael’s death in 1520, the artist’s body was immediately transferred here.
14. In 609, Pope Boniface IV got permission from Byzantine emperor Phocas to convert the Pantheon into a Christian church, known as Sancta Maria ad Martyres (St. Mary and the Martyrs).
15. It was the first Roman pagan temple to be consecrated as a Christian church. The conversion played a key role in the Pantheon’s survival, as the papacy had the resources to repair and maintain it.
A Roman Legend
17. Since the French Revolution, when the church of Sainte-Geneviève in Paris was deconsecrated and turned into the secular monument called the Panthéon of Paris, the generic term pantheon has sometimes been applied to other buildings in which illustrious dead are honoured or buried.