"The most incredible building in Rome" Pantheon Tip by jungles

Pantheon, Rome: 272 reviews and 577 photos

  Dome and Oculus
by jungles

No other ancient Roman building standing today remains in such beautiful condition as the Pantheon. Though the incription on the front states that it was built by Marcus Agrippa, that original building from 26 B.C. was made of wood and burned down completely; what you see today is the reconstruction built under the emperor Hadrian around 125 A.D., who retained the original inscription. It was originally a temple to all the gods, until 609 A.D. when the emperor Phocas donated it to the Pope and it became the Church of Saint Mary and all the Martyrs. It still functions as a church under that name today, and services are still occasionally held inside. Most of the time, though, it is open to the public, and entrance is free, so be sure not to miss it.

The construction of the building is a marvel; its walls are more than six feet thick, which was necessary to support the massive dome above them. The hole in the ceiling, called an oculus, was also a necessity to keep the roof from caving in, though it had religious meaning as a symbol of the sun as well. The oculus remains completely open to the sky, so every time is rains in Rome it rains inside the Pantheon as well, which is an amazing sight to see. The marble floors have ancient drain holes strategically placed to catch the water, and the floor also slopes at an angle so that the water flows towards the drains. Not only was it the largest dome in the ancient world, it continued to be the world's largest concrete span until it was finally outdone by the CNIT building in Paris, in 1958.

Several famous people are buried inside the Pantheon, including the Renaissance painter Rafael and the King Vittorio Emmanuele II.

Address: Piazza della Rotunda
Directions: From Piazza Venezia walk north up Via del Corso. After a few blocks you will see signs pointing to the left for the Pantheon.
Phone: 0039 06 68300230
Website: http://www.museionline.info/roma-musei-e-monumenti/pantheon

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Jun 8, 2006
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