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Rome Italy Pantheon - Everything you need 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!

pantheon in romeThe Pantheon is one of the best-preserved buildings from Ancient Rome you can visit in Rome.

I hope you enjoy my photos of the Pantheon here, but nothing can do it justice like seeing it in person.

All about the Pantheon in Rome

There is a lot to know about the Pantheon in Rome.

The history, the architecture, the outside, the inside, the art, what to see, do, eat nearby. 

On this page, you'll find an overview of the these topics, with more details on dedicated pages if you want to learn more.

What is the Pantheon?

The Pantheon is one of the most well-preserved buildings of Ancient Rome.

The word "pantheon" comes from the Greek πάνθεον which literally means "a temple for all the gods", from πᾶν or pan, meaning "all" and θεός or theos, meaning "god."

So it was once a pagan temple in Ancient Rome. Today it is a Catholic church and also a monument you can visit.

It is considered to be the forerunner for all modern places of worship.

Where in Rome is the Pantheon located?

The Pantheon is right in the center of Rome, just between the via del Corso and Piazza Navona on Piazza della Rotonda, very close to the Campo de Fiori neighborhood.

A heavenly spot

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.

You can easily fit a visit to the Pantheon into a stroll around the historic center of Rome, even if you have limited time.

Click here to see the pantheon's location in Rome on Google maps.

It will open in a separate window.

What's so special about the Pantheon in Rome?

The Pantheon is truly a wonder of Roman architecture. 

Here are just a few quick facts about the Pantheon that make it one of the most special monuments in Rome:

  1. The Pantheon's dome is exactly as high as it is wide (about 141 feet; or 43.2 m.) If completed, it would be a perfect sphere. The dome itself was meant 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, a volcanic stone that is extra light. The result is a dome that can literally stand the test of time.
  3. In fact, the Roman Pantheon has the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.
  4. The oculus (hole) in the top of the dome is 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. 
  5. 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.


Who built the Pantheon and when?

First pantheon under Emperor Augustus

The first version of the Rome Pantheon was built between 27 and 25 BCE by the consul Marcus Agrippa, Prefect of Rome's first emperor Octavian Augustus.

In 80 CE Agrippa's Pantheon burned to the ground.


Third Pantheon under Emperor Hadrian

The emperor Hadrian (CE 117-138) built the current version of the Pantheon to replace one that the Consul Agrippa built.

(You may also know Hadrian from his mausoleum, another of Rome's most impressive monuments from Ancient Rome, today known as Castel Sant'Angelo.)

The architect was likely Apollodoro of Damascus.

The Latin inscription on the pediment

Hadrian left 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."

What was the Pantheon used for in Ancient Rome?

In the ancient Roman world and through the first 2-3 centuries of the Roman Empire, Romans mostly worshipped pagan gods.

When the Pantheon was first built, it was a Roman temple dedicated to worshipping the planetary gods (the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars) in Ancient Rome.

In the early 4th century, Emperor Constantine made Christianity an official religion of the empire.

Subsequently, many buildings from Ancient Rome were converted to Christian churches.

The Pantheon was one such building.

In 609 CE, under Emperor Phocas, the Pantheon was turned into a church, Santa Maria ad Martyres, or Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs.

Probably one of the reasons we can see the structure of the Rome Pantheon so intact today is because it has been in continuous use since it was built.

Is the Pantheon still in use today?

Pantheon as a Catholic church

Today, the Roman Pantheon is still used as a church.

In fact, on occasion, you may not be able to visit it if there is a Mass or special service.

For example, on Pentecost, there is a Mass after which Rome's firemen drop thousands of pink rose petals through the oculus.

In recent years this has become so popular, it is nearly impossible to get inside for Mass unless you come at around 7 AM.

Also, there is a special midnight mass at Christmas.

A Roman friend of mine even got married inside the Pantheon.

The Pantheon as a mausoleum

The 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.

The Pantheon as monument / museum

Probably the most common use of the Pantheon today is as a "must-see" monument in Rome.

The building itself is worth visiting, inside and out.

But there is also beautiful art on the inside to enjoy.

How can you 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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