The Pantheon is an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman gods and embodies the greatness of the Roman Empire. It is assumed that it was built in A.D. 2 on another temple, built-in 27 B.C. by Marcus Agrippa. Nowadays, this ancient crowning glory can be found at Piazza della Rotonda.
The Pantheon is a large rotunda covered with a hemispherical dome diameter of 45 meters (147,6 ft). Architects had done an excellent job and achieved a harmonious balance between building height and diameter. Due to engineering calculations, the dome does not press down on the visitors with its mass and solemnly towers over them like the sky.
The height of the building is almost equal to its diameter and amounts to 42 meters (137,8 ft). Air and light penetrate inside the Pantheon through the oculus in the center of the dome with a diameter of 9 meters (29,5 ft), called “the Eye of the Pantheon”, the main feature of the temple.
The inside surface of the Roman dome is decorated with 140 coffers. A series of these recessed panels have decorative and constructive value, significantly reducing the weight of the arch.
It has been calculated that the dome’s weight is 5000 metric tons. But gradually, with the increasing height of the dome, its thickness and weight are reduced. For example, the thickness of the concrete mass at the bottom is 6 meters (19,7 ft), and near “the Eye of the Pantheon,” it is only 1,5 meters (4,9 ft).
The greatness of the temple is emphasized by a portico of sixteen granite Corinthian columns at the entrance. A Roman portal, dating from the Roman era, leads you inside. The walls, holding the dome, are faced with marble and divided into two tiers from the inside. The lower tier, in its turn, consists of 7 identical niches, to facilitate the construction.
Pantheon is one of the few buildings of ancient Rome which has survived unchanged. All the time, it has attracted the attention of artists, scientists, and the simple public. Michelangelo considered it to be a divine creation. Raphael wanted to be buried in the temple, which, in his mind, was a place where people and goods were united. So the great artist was buried in the Pantheon.
In addition to Raphael Santi, the Roman Pantheon houses the tombs of several other notable individuals:
These tombs highlight the Pantheon’s significance as a resting place for prominent figures in Italian history, art, and culture.
From an architectural viewpoint, the Pantheon is almost the only monumental structure, which harmoniously combines grandiosity and elegance. Its image had a considerable influence on the architecture of that time and future as well.
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Despite past centuries with their gains and losses, the Pantheon, as before, is absolute proof of the greatness of the Roman Empire.
A ticket to visit the Pantheon is not required because the entrance is free. Opening hours are from 9 am to 7 pm daily.
Not many tourists go to the temple in the first hour after opening – this is the time, when we recommend our readers to visit the place.
Visiting the Roman Pantheon offers a unique opportunity to witness an architectural masterpiece with an unparalleled historical legacy, connecting you to the ancient world and the fascinating stories of those who shaped it.
Using an audio guide inside the Pantheon can be a great idea for those who want to learn more about the building’s history, architecture, and significance in-depth. An audio guide can provide fascinating insights and details that may not be immediately apparent during your visit.
Additionally, using an audio guide allows you to explore the Pantheon at your own pace and focus on the aspects that interest you the most. If you appreciate a deeper understanding of the sites you visit, an audio guide is a valuable resource to enhance your Pantheon experience.
Read also What to See in 3 Days in Rome?
There are many important sights near the Pantheon, and here is a list of the top 5 that I recommend visiting first:
Accommodation in Rome near the Pantheon area is an excellent opportunity to reach all the main attractions in Rome by walk.
With the help of the particular filter, you can choose the best hotel near the Pantheon by yourself. My list of the hotels I would stay in is following:
The Pantheon in Rome and the Pantheon in Paris are both iconic structures with their own distinct histories and architectural styles. While they share a name and a connection to the concept of a temple dedicated to all gods, the two buildings have very different purposes and designs.
The Roman Pantheon, constructed by Emperor Hadrian in 126 CE, is an ancient temple that has been converted into a Christian church. It is an outstanding example of Roman engineering, boasting the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The oculus, a 9-meter (30-foot) opening at the dome’s apex, serves as the building’s only source of natural light. In addition, the Pantheon in Rome is known for its perfect proportions, as the dome’s diameter is equal to the height from the floor to the oculus. As a result, a perfect sphere could fit within the interior of the building.
In contrast, the Parisian Pantheon was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, by King Louis XV in the 18th century. The construction began in 1758 and was completed in 1790. Designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot, it was later repurposed as a mausoleum to honor French national heroes and distinguished citizens during the French Revolution. The Parisian Pantheon features a neo-classical façade with a Greek-cross plan, incorporating Gothic elements such as ribbed vaults and flying buttresses. Its architectural design reflects the Enlightenment’s interest in rationality and harmony.
While both Pantheons serve as the final resting places for notable individuals, the Roman Pantheon houses the remains of Italian kings, artists, and composers. In contrast, the Parisian Pantheon is home to famous French figures like Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Marie Curie.
In summary, the Pantheon in Rome is a marvel of ancient Roman architecture and engineering, while the Pantheon in Paris is a testament to French Enlightenment ideals and national pride. Despite their shared name, these two buildings embody distinct historical periods and architectural styles, offering unique insights into the societies that created them.
Author: Artur Jakucewicz Rome Holiday Planning Expert
I have lived in Rome for over 10 years and am glad to share my experience and knowledge. I love ancient history and architecture — author of travel guides in Italy for independent travelers.
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