With a history of nearly 2000 years, the Pantheon is the best preserved Roman structure in the world. Once a Roman temple, the Pantheon is now a Catholic church, and one of the main attractions of Rome.
Although the inscription on the frontispiece shows that it was built by Marcus Agrippa, the Roman consul, Agrippa’s temple was erected in fact during the reign of Augustus, between 27 and 25 BC, and it was destroyed in a fire in 80 AD. The facade was the only part to be saved, that was later used to rebuild the new temple.
The Pantheon was rebuilt by the emperor Domitian, but it was damaged again by a fire in 110. According to tradition, the current structure was built between the years 118 and 125 AD, during the reign of Hadrian.
In 609, Pope Boniface IV converted the Pantheon into a Christian church and dedicated it to Saint Mary and the Martyrs. Around that time, the church was known as Santa Maria della Rotonda or Santa Maria ad Martyres.
Two kings of Italy are buried in the Pantheon – Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, as well as the painters Raphael and Annibale Carracci, the composer Arcangelo Corelli, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi.
The Pantheon became state property in December 2014, and is now managed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism through the Direction of the National Museums of Rome. The structure is still a church, and masses are celebrated there every Sunday.
The Pantheon consists of a pronaos connected to a large round cell known as the Rotunda. The portico stands on massive granite columns with Corinthian capitals, quarried in Egypt at Mons Claudianus. The interior of the pronaos has four pink columns, creating three aisles.
At 43 meters wide and 43 meters high, the Pantheon’s dome is a perfect sphere resting on a cylinder. The oculus, the only source of natural light in the Pantheon, is a round opening in the center of the dome, with a diameter of about 8 meters.
HOW TO GET THERE
Two Metro stations are located at the same distance from the Pantheon, about 1.3 kilometers away – Spagna and Barberini, both on the Metro Line A. The closest bus stop is Rinascimento, located about 350 meters away, on the bus Lines 30, 70, 81, 87, 492 and 628.
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