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The Pantheon (Rome, Italy)
Member Name: JJJJ
The Pantheon (Rome, Italy)
Date: 27/05/09, updated on 29/05/09 (695 review reads)
Advantages: The dome is immense
Disadvantages: Can get very busy
I didn't actually plan to visit the Pantheon during my recent trip to Rome, but merely stumbled across it by mistake whilst walking across the ancient city in a mapless attempt to locate the famous Trevi Fountain. I'm very glad I ended up at the Pantheon however, as it turned out to be arguably the most impressive of all the historical sites that I visited.
Built in the year 126 (making it 1,883 years old), the Pantheon in its present form replaced an older building which was erected on the same site in 83BC. The word 'Pantheon' means every god, and the structure was originally built to celebrate all the gods of ancient Rome. There has been some debate in regard to who actually designed the present building - some scolars claim it to be Apollodorus of Damascus, whilst others credit it to Emperor Hadrian's architects - either way, the Pantheon is an incredible piece of architecture, and in my opinion much more beautiful when viewed from the inside.
On the way in, visitors must pass through giant sixty-tonne granite columns, quarried from Egypt's Eastern Mountains and floated down the River Nile on huge barges to their present location. No photo can really do justice to the scale of these stone wonders, and standing underneath them is quite an experience.
There is no entry fee to the Pantheon, so you can wander straight in off the street and take a look around. There's an instantly noticeable temperature change from the hot streets of Rome to the cool interior of the Pantheon - and it's quite a relief. During my visit, the building was absolutely packed - and that wasn't even in high tourist season. I thought it was quite amusing in the film Angels & Demons where Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) goes into the Pantheon in search of his next clue, and there's only about thirty people in there - yeah right! Anyway, once inside, the scale of the place is instantly apparent - look up and you'll see the largest un-reinforced concrete dome in the world (5,000 tonnes) - it's an amazing sight, and quite surreal. In the centre of the dome, 142 feet above the ground, is a huge circular hole known as the 'The Great Eye' which represents the buildings only source of light. On a sunny day, a visible sun-ray shines through the eye, making the setting even more magical.
The Pantheon has had many uses over the centuries; firstly (as mentioned in my second paragraph) as a temple to all gods. Secondly, in medieval times, as a Christian church, and finally, in the Renaissance to the present day, as a tomb. There are a number of important historical figures buried in the building, with probably the most recogniseable of all being the high Renaissance painter and architect Raphael (1483 - 1520) - although its amazing to consider that even he was buried there over 1,000 years after the buildings construction.
If you ever get a chance to visit Rome, the Pantheon will make for an interesting visit - a venue steeped in history, and one of the world's most important historical sites... plus it's free!
Summary: Important historical venue
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