When visiting Rome, a must-see attraction is the Pantheon. The magnificent Pantheon was built by Marcus Agrippa, the son in law of the first roman emperor, Emperor Augustus, at 27 BC, who did not only build this temple, he also built two other buildings before the Pantheon, and on the exact site. In 126 AD emperor Hadrian rebuilt the Pantheon leaving only the portico in front of the building as it is since the time Agrippa built originally. This building that used to function as a temple for all gods in ancient Rome is the most preserved and complete Roman building till this day. Along with lots of other functions throughout the years, in the 7th century Pope Boniface IV turned the Pantheon into a roman catholic church and it got the name “Piazzalla Rotondo”.
The essential guide for the Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon in Rome is circular, with a large dome. This giant dome is 142 feet, which makes it bigger than the White House dome! It’s considered the largest unreinforced solid concrete dome in the world till this day. The second biggest dome in Italy is the monumental dome at the Temple of Mercury in Baiae. The famous portico on the front of the building includes eight Corinthian columns. The original bronze doors were melted down by the Pope and were used to create Borromini and Bernini’s Baldacchino. You can visit Saint Peter’s to see it!
The hole in the top of the Pantheon, the oculus, is the source of light in the interior of the Pantheon, so try to visit the interior in the day hours, when the light is still bright. This beautiful opening is essential for architectural reasons, holds the ceiling and prevents the dome from collapsing. To make your visit more exciting, you should try and visit the Pantheon in a rainy day and watch the rain pour through this hole in the dome. Don’t worry you will not drown inside, the ground is designed to drain the water through small holes dedicated for the rain.
Another interesting fact about the Pantheon is that it contains the tombs of the famous painter Raphael Sanzio da Urbino and Baldassare Peruzzi, a famous architect that was inspired by the Pantheon while designing the Cathedral of Florence’s dome. For art and architecture lovers this is the place to go! You will appreciate the floor with the original geometric patterns.
The opening hours of the Pantheon are 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM Monday to Saturday, on Sundays the opening times are from 9 AM to 6 PM, admission is free. Around the Pantheon you’ll find a square full of cafés and restaurants, the atmosphere is just amazing!