Pantheon Rome Venice Florence Milan Verona Bologna Genoa Rome Colosseum Pantheon Trevi Fountain Piazza del Popolo Piazza Navona Piazza di Spagna Castel St.Angelo Victor Emmanuel Monument

Key attraction information

Built: 119-128 AD
Height: 143 m
Style: Roman

About

Pantheon has the largest freestanding dome in Europe. Inside there are tombs of Carracci, Rapheal and two kings of Italy, Victor Emmanuel II and his son Umberto I.

Pantheon is the best preserved of the remains of ancient Rome. It was built by Hadrian in 119-128 AD as a temple to the 12 most important classical deities, though the inscription on the pediment records an earlier Pantheon, built 100 years previously by Augustus’ General Marcus Agrippa – which confused historians for centuries. Its fine state of preservation is due to the building’s conversion to a Christian church in 608, when it was presented to the Pope by the Byzantine Emperor Phocas. The Pantheon has nevertheless suffered years – notably when the bronze cladding was stripped from the roof in 667, and when Pope Urban VIII allowed Bernini to remove the remaining bronze from the beams in the portico to melt down for his baldacchino in Saint Peter’s in the 1620s.  The simplicity of the Pantheon’s exterior is largely unchanged, and it still retains its original Roman bronze doors. The key to its extraordinary harmony is its dimensions. The radius of the interior dome is exactly equal to its height, so it could potentially accommodate a perfect circle. At the centre of the dome is a circular hole nine metres in diameter, the oculus, which is the only source of light and a symbolic link between the temple and the heavens. The building is still officially a church, but it’s easy to overlook this, in spite of all the paraphernalia added over the years and all the tombs of eminent Italians, including Raphael and the first king of united Italy, Vittorio Emanuele. Until the eighteenth century the portico was used as a market, and if you look at the columns you can see notches in the stonework which were used as supports for the stalls.

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