Pantheon

Pantheon

Not far away from Piazza Navona one finds Pantheon, the temple of all gods and burial chamber for kings Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and the famous Renaissance painter Raphael. Pantheon is the best preserved of ancient Rome’s great monuments. Originally the temple was dedicated to all classical pagan gods - hence the name Pantheon, a derivation of the Greek words pan (all) and Theos (god). It was designed as a square structure and built by Marcus Agrippa. Its current round form and the dome date back to around 120 AD when the emperor Hadrian rebuilt the structure. Magnificent dome of the temple deserves detailed description as it is a true engineering masterpiece, Romans’ greatest architectural achievement, the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built with the central opening (oculus) to the sky. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 meters. Standing under the dome of Pantheon one can feel the true unity with the Universe. The light pours through oculus in the shape of a large pillar and one can literally touch and feel it. The best time for observing the light pillar is summer midday when the sun is especially high in the sky. Though Okoguide’s photographer was charmed by Pantheon at different times of the day and in different weather of spring and autumn Rome. Oculus gives extraordinary feelings: one can see the stars, birds on the background of blue or dark-blue sky and touch the rain.

According to a legend in order to build the dome, they filled the sphere with soil and in the process; they put scattered coins in there. Once the dome was completed, they told people there were coins in the soil and if they helped to remove it, any coin they found was theirs to keep. Later in the history Pantheon stood empty but on 13 May 609 the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the building to Pope Boniface IV, who converted it into a Christian church and consecrated it to Santa Maria ad Martyres, now known as Santa Maria dei Martiri. From then on that day was celebrated as All Saints’ Day. In the middle of the VIII century the date was moved to 1 November by Pope Gregory III due to the consecration of one of the chapels of St Peter’s Basilica.

Tourists can always find horsed chariots near Pantheon and take a ride. Except early morning, there are always a lot of people on the square, sitting on the steps of the fountain, taking pictures, eating sandwiches or having breakfast/ lunch/ dinner in one of the restaurants around. Lucky ones might see the process of movie making. Okoguide’s photographer happened to see the shooting area of The Third Person movie starring Adrien Brody, Liam Neeson, Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde.

Address: Piazza della Rotonda
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9 am – 7.30 pm, Sun 9 am – 6 pm, closed on 1 January, 1 May and 25 December
Coordinates: 41.898644, 12.476823