Pantheon in Rome
Located in its historical center, the Pantheon is the most complete ancient building in the city of Rome. It is also one of the best preserved of all the Roman buildings. Built more than 1800 years ago, it still stands as an example of the great Roman Empire. Even today, its dome is the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.
The Roman general Marcus Agrippa first commissioned the Pantheon in 27 BC, but it burned down around 80 AD. Emperor Domitian rebuilt it, but it again burned down after being struck by lightning 30 years later. The emperor Hadrian rebuilt the present Pantheon around 126 AD. It is interesting to note that the inscription from the original dedication by Marcus Agrippa continues to remain above the entrance portico.
Originally, the Pantheon was built as a temple for all the pagan gods. Statues of the various gods were housed in niches along the walls. However, in 608 AD, it was consecrated as a Christian church that was dedicated to Mary and the martyrs and it remains an active church today.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Pantheon is its extraordinary construction. It is a perfect hemisphere that is about 142 feet (43 meters) high and 142 feet in diameter. To avoid any problems due to the massive weight of the dome, the thickness of the walls was gradually decreased as the dome’s height increased. At the top is the oculus, an opening in the dome that lets light in. It is lined with the original bronze, and is the main source of light for the whole building. The original bronze doors also remain, as well as the ancient Roman marble floor.
In addition to being one of the most interesting active Christian churches in Rome, the Pantheon is also a national Mausoleum. It is the burial site of the Italian Royal Family as well as great Renaissance artists such as Raffaello.
It is also interesting to note that, in the 16th century, Michelangelo studied the Pantheon before he started designing St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. It has also served as an inspiration for buildings such as the California state capitol in Sacramento and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Today, the area around this architectural masterpiece is known as the Piazza della Rotonda. It is one of the most popular areas in the city, with numerous nightlife destinations such as restaurants, gelaterias and bars.
Nearly 2000 years after it was built, the Pantheon is still a place of worship. Due to the care that it has received, the Pantheon of today allows us to have a glimpse into the unique and beautiful world of Roman architecture not seen anywhere else in the world.