The Pantheon holds the title as one of the best preserved among Roman monuments. Its name is derived from the Greek words "pan" and "teon", which, combined, means "to all gods". As the name implies, the Pantheon was built as a temple to the pagan gods of ancient Rome. The original temple was built by Marcus Agrippa, a statesman and general, in 27 BC, but it burnt down and was rebuilt in 80 AD by Domitian, the Roman Emperor from 81 AD to 96 AD. It burnt down again after 3 decades, when it was hit by lightning. It was, again, rebuilt around 126 AD, this time by Emperor Hadrian. Hadrian's Pantheon is the present Pantheon, even though across its front is inscribed the words, "M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIUM.FECIT". Translated into English, it reads, "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, having been consul three times, built it".
Its architect is unknown, but the Pantheon's architecture is known as one of its most remarkable features. The portico has grey granite columns. Each column is 11 m. tall and has a 1.5 m. diameter. Behind these columns are walls with niches, believed to have been made for the effigies of the emperors Julius Caesar and Augustus Caesar, Marcus Agrippa, a group of three deities known as the Capitoline Triad, or other deities. The doors to the interior of the dome are bronze but were once gilded. They are not the original Pantheon doors, though.
Pantheon - RomeThere is an oculus, or circular window, at the apex of the dome, and progressing towards this oculus are five rows of twenty-eight coffers. Its symbolic meaning is apparently unknown.
Pope Boniface IV, who inherited the building from Byzantine Emperor Phocas in 609, turned it into a Christian Church. During the Renaissance period, it started being used as a tomb. Among the famous people buried in the Pantheon are the painter Raphael, the architect Baldassare Peruzzi, King Vittorio Emanuele II, King Umberto I and Umberto I's queen, Margherita.
Today, the Pantheon is still used as a Catholic church, where masses and important Catholic events and weddings are held. It is also a tourist spot whose geometry and architecture leave its visitors in wonder and delight.
Address Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma, Italy
Opening hours Monday-Saturday: 8.30 am - 7.30 pm; Sunday: 9.00 am - 6.00 pm; Midweek Holidays: 9.00 am - 1.00 pm Closed: January 1, May 1, December 25