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Pantheon - TravelStorys

Rome's Centro Storico

Location Trip Time Travel Type
Italy 20 minutes


You are standing in front of the most influential building in western architecture - The Pantheon. The Pantheon is in the center of the "Centro Storico." This building is the most complete building remaining from Ancient Rome - which spanned from about 600 B.C. to about 600 A.D. The Pantheon as you see it before you, was completed in 120 A.D. by Roman Emperor Hadrian. The original purpose of the building is not known. But its name provides clues. Pan meaning all, Theo meaning god. It may have been a temple to honor all the gods. As impressive as this structure is, there were bigger, more elaborate temples in ancient Rome. The emperor Hadrian had coins made that celebrated his most important works. Although many other temples are represented on the coins, the Pantheon was not considered impressive enough to make the cut. The Pantheon is special because it's the most intact building to survive from Ancient Rome. Many other temples from the period were burnt down in city fires, or were pillaged for building materials after the decline of the Roman Empire. The recycled materials were used in churches or fancy houses. Many Roman Renaissance palaces contain columns that were stolen from ancient temples. The Pantheon survives, firstly, because of its concrete roof. It has a monolithic dome roof - holding the record for largest concrete dome in the world until a larger one was built in Paris in about 1950 - The dome protected it from fires. Secondly, shortly after the decline of Ancient Rome, the emperor gave the Pantheon to the church. Its early conversion into a Christian church protected it from pillaging. This is not to say that the Pantheon is completely original. Over the years parts of the building were damaged or removed. For example, if you look at the colors of the sixteen columns on the porch, you will see that those in the back are pink. Those in the front should be gray. But look at the front most eastern column. It's pink! This column was replaced during the renaissance. The 17th century artist and architect, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, oversaw the project. He was careful to blend the repairs into the overall architecture but still distinguish them from the original, ancient building. Although much restored, most of the interior of the Pantheon is still original. The bronze doors, although not original, are still ancient. They are recycled from another third century building. Side note: Check out the Egyptian obelisk on the fountain. This obelisk has a twin brother located on Bernini's sculpture in the Piazza della Minerva.

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