The Pantheon

Prestige issue 257-258,Dec. 2014-Jan.2015

The splendor of ancient art

Le panthéon

© Prestige

The facade of the Pantheon supports the largest dome of antiquity. 19 centuries later, it holds the world record vaults scope. The Latin inscription says: “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the third time, built it.” In the middle of the Piazza della Rotonda, the Obelisk overcoming the Fountain Renaissance.
 

Part of the Historic Centre of Rome, the Pantheon, located at Piazza della Rotonda, was originally a religious building dedicated to all the gods of antiquity, especially to Mars and Venus. Built on the orders of Agrippa in the year 27 BC., whose name is engraved on the entrance portico, it was completely destroyed by two fires in the years 80 and 110 and completely rebuilt during the reign of Hadrian around 125 AD. Considered as the most perfect of surviving monuments, the Pantheon plunges visitors into the splendor and glory of ancient Rome. It becomes, in the year 609, a church dedicated to St Mary the Martyrs, welcoming every year millions of tourists.

Majestic architecture

The Pantheon is the largest monument of antiquity remained virtually intact to this day thanks to its continuous maintenance over the centuries. It dazzles tourists with its exceptional architecture. Indeed, while all the ancient temples have a circular plan, the Pantheon is surrounded by a rectangular colonnade, with a circular layout. Its Portico, with 16 marble columns with granite capitals all coming from Egyptian quarries, supporting a bronze covered ceiling weighing 225.000kg brought by Pope Urban VIII to build the canopy of the Basilica St. Pierre. A lead replaced the cover. However, the bronze doors are the only ones that have remained intact since their first construction.

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At the top level of the circular wall, XVIIIth century decor of fake windows enhances the beauty of the construction.

In the center of the Place de la Rotonde,

A beautiful Renaissance fountain

is topped by an obelisk, dating back to Ramses II.

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Details of the Fountain

Inside the Pantheon,

A pure wonder

During the visit of the interior of this majestic building, the visitor is dazzled by the huge and artistic work of the place. The vault that is in a perfect sphere of 43 meters in diameter and a height equal to its diameter, is ribbed on the ceiling by 140 panels–hollow partitions- arranged in five rows with the objective to reduce the dome and the material. The weight of the dome is supported by eight massive pillars. In the center, a cap that shows the sky to allow prayer to go more freely. The sky was regarded as the image of the universe under the control of Rome. A gigantic construction due to the expertise of Roman architects who used the most advanced techniques of the time, and who have demonstrated an exceptional genius. Over 19 centuries later, the dome holds the world record for longevity. The Emperor Phocas offer, in 609, the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV who dedicated it to the Virgin. The building is St. Mary Martyrs church to welcome the remains of kings and characters as Raphael, one of the most popular artists of all time.

At the Pantheon are resting

Umberto and Margherita of Savoy,

The painter Raphael and many others.

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The tomb of Umberto II.
 
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The 8m diameter hole is the only source of direct light. The panels of the dome offer a wonderful design.