The Pantheon

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by mlmeredith on August 10, 2007

Of all the sights in Rome, I think the one that most impressed me was the Pantheon. This has to be one of the great spiritual buildings I’ve ever encountered. It was built as a Roman temple, and later became a Catholic Church (Chiesa di Santa Maria ad Martyres). There are a lot of different theories regarding why it was did not suffer the fate of so many pagan temples (demolished for their marble or just collapsed from disuse). But no one can truly explain how it escaped the looting and neglect. We can be sure however that its evolution into a church guaranteed its preservation for perhaps all time.

It’s believed that it was originally built by Agrippa at about 27 BC, then later rebuilt after 118 AD by Hadrian. The name Pantheon comes from the fact that it was to be a temple honoring the pantheon of the gods, a multi-use temple if you will.

You enter through huge bronze doors into a great circular room. Almost immediately, your eyes are drawn up to the inside of the concrete dome and the open oculus at the top that provides natural light to the building. Yes, the dome is concrete. Didn’t know that they could use concrete 2000 years ago, right? Now consider this, experts today believe that were they to try to duplicate the size and breadth of the dome using today’s concrete construction, it would likely collapse under its own weight! Yet the Pantheon endures.

At night the plaza in front of the building is a popular site for vendors, musicians and people-watchers.

Don’t miss it! The Pantheon is open from 8:30am to 7:30pm Monday to Saturday, from 9am to 6pm on Sunday, and 9am to 1pm on holidays that fall on weekdays except for Christmas Day, New Year's Day and May 1, when it is closed.

There is no charge for admission.

If you’re curious, there is even a live web cam perched on a building looking down on the portico and the plaza in front:
Piazza della Rotonda
Rome, Italy, 00186
+39 0668300230

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