The Pantheon: Top Ten Things You Need to KnowNicola
Top Ten things to know about the Pantheon
Modern day architects still take inspiration from this mega wow building.. and here’s what you need to know.
1. The word Pantheon is Greek and means all of all the Gods, as the Pantheon was built as a temple to the 12 ancient Roman Gods.
2. It is the best preserved ancient Roman monument.
3. The dome: The dome of the Pantheon has a large hole in the middle, which is the eye of the Pantheon, or the ‘oculus’, and connects the Romans directly to the Gods. There are no windows inside the Pantheon, so the oculus is the window to the Gods, and likewise, the Gods are watching you.
4. The weight of the dome: The dome, made of concrete, is a feat of architectural genius. Roman engineers lightened the dome as much as possible by using pumice stone in the concrete mix nearer the top, where the thickness decreases. It’s breathtaking walking into the Pantheon and seeing the dome in it’s entirety, because from the outside it’s hard to get a full sense of its dimension.
5. The dimensions of the dome: It was the largest dome in the world for 1300 years and today remains the largest unsupported concrete dome in the world! The diameter is 43 metres (142ft). It is as tall as it is wide, and a perfect sphere. It is larger than Michelangelo’s dome of St Peters Basilica ad it makes the United States Capitol dome looks small in comparison, at 96 feet in diameter.
6. The first Pantheon was built in 27 BC by the Emperor Augustus and his right hand man Marcus Agrippa, but that burned down in the great fire of 80 AD and was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian, but that was struck by lightning and burned again in 110 AD. Therefore, the Pantheon as we know it today was built in 120 AD by Emperor Hadrian, an architect of sorts, who designed it together with Apollodorus of Damascus, a famous Greek architect of the day who ended up being executed by the Emperor, because of a disagreement about the design of the temple.
7. The Pantheon now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and Italian Kings and Queens, including Queen Margherita.
8. In the early 600’s, the Pantheon was transformed into a church and therefore escaped destruction in the middle Ages. Today as a church, it is dedicated to Mary and the Martyrs.
9. When Michelangelo first saw the Pantheon in the early 1500s, he proclaimed it as being of “angelic and not human design.”
10. It was inspirational to the master architects Bramante and Brunelleschi (Brunelleschi who built the next largest dome in the world, in Florence).
Bonus fact: The marble floor, which is beautifully designed with a geometric square and circular pattern, is the original ancient Roman floor.
Want to know more? Book a tour of ancient Rome
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