Rome Italy Pantheon - 6 things to know

When you come upon the Rome Italy pantheon for the first time, it will stop you in your tracks. It does this to me every time I see it, and I live here! I hope you enjoy my photos of the pantheon here, but nothing can do it justice like seeing it in person. It's an amazing, breath-taking structure that just sits right in the center of Rome for all to see. How nice is that?

6 things to know about the pantheon:

Rome Italy pantheon - wait, there's more

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What is the pantheon – The Rome Italy Pantheon is one of the most well-preserved buildings of Ancient Rome. It also has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, and is considered to be the forerunner for all modern places of worship.

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Where is the pantheon – it is right in the center of downtown Rome, just between the via del Corso and piazza Navona on piazza della Rotonda. (According to Roman legend, the exact location it was built on is the place where the founder of Rome, Romulus, was seized by an eagle when he died, and carried away into the skies with the gods.)

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What is special about the pantheon in Rome – OK this one deserves a list:

  1. The dome is as high as it is wide (about 141 feet; or 43.2m.) If completed, it would be a perfect sphere. (This was supposedly done to represent the vault of heaven.)
  2. The Romans did a really incredible job constructing this…how do you make a dome with concrete bricks so that it does not collapse?The answer is, you don’t. As the layers of concrete blocks go up higher and higher, they get lighter and lighter. At the very top, the bricks are made of pumice, which are extra light. The result is a dome that can literally stand the test of time.
  3. There is an oculus (hole) in the top of the dome. It’s about 9 meters (30 feet) in diameter and is the only source of light, other than the doorway, for the Roman pantheon. If you could spend the day inside the pantheon, you would see all the sides lit up by the sunlight coming in and sweeping along the circumference of the interior. When it rains, the rain comes into the pantheon via the oculus, and the rainwater is drained away using the ancient drainage system still in place today.

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Who built the pantheon and when – The first version of the Rome Italy Pantheon was built between 27 and 25 B.C. by the consul Agrippa, Prefect of the Emperor Augustus. In 80 A.D. the pantheon burned to the ground. The emperor Hadrian (A.D 117-138) built the current version of the Pantheon to replace one that Agrippa built. 

Hadrian chose the Latin inscription on the façade (which we see today). It reads: “M. AGRIPPA. L. F. COSTERTIUM. FECIT”, which, translated, means "It was built by Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, consul for the third time."

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What was the pantheon used for in Ancient Rome? Is it still in use today? – the word “pantheon” comes from Greek, and means “all the things you believe in” Literally, pan, "everything" and theon, "divine". Originally, the Pantheon was a Roman temple dedicated to worshipping the planetary gods (the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars) in Roman times. Around the 7th century A.D., the pantheon was turned into a church. In fact, it has been in continuous use since it was first built, which is probably one of the reasons it is so intact.

Today, the Roman pantheon is also a mausoleum. It houses the tombs of the Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I as well as the Renaissance painter Raphael.

It is also still used as a church, and services are held there on occasion. A Roman friend of mine even got married there.

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How can I visit the pantheon and how much does it cost – The Roman pantheon is open Mon – Sat: 9 am - 7.30 pm and Sun: 9 am –6 pm. There is no cost. Tel: +39 06 68300230.

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This is a rare photo of the pantheon with snow. I took it in February 2012 when Rome had a huge, unusual snowfall that paralyzed the city for days.

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