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Visiting the Pantheon, Rome, Italy

Updated on August 27, 2016
bdegiulio profile image

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures, experiences, and makes the world a better, more tolerant place.

The Pantheon
The Pantheon | Source
The Pantheon from the streets of Rome.
The Pantheon from the streets of Rome. | Source

As one of the oldest and most recognized monuments in all of Italy, the Pantheon is a must see destination on any visit to Rome. In almost continuous use for over two thousand years this architectural marvel of ancient Rome has withstood centuries of earthquakes, war, and looting.

Originally constructed in 27 BC as a temple to the Roman Gods the building was torn down and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around 120 AD after a fire damaged the original building. The rebuilt structure is the same one that you will see today when you visit the Pantheon.

Pantheon
Pantheon | Source
The Oculus with the honeycomb structure of the walls.
The Oculus with the honeycomb structure of the walls. | Source

The Structure

The Pantheon was the largest dome ever constructed until Filippo Brunelleschi's dome at the Cathedral of Florence, otherwise known as the Duomo, was completed in 1436. The dome of the Pantheon is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, which is quite amazing considering that it is two thousand years old.

The interior of the Pantheon forms a perfect sphere with the distance from the floor to the top of the dome, 142 feet, being exactly equal to its diameter. The honeycomb structure of the rotunda combined with the use of pumice in the concrete helped to reduce the weight of the roof as did the elimination of the apex which was replaced by an oculus.

The oculus is the thirty foot hole in the roof of the Pantheon and is the only source of outside light. Due to this opening, rain will occasionally come in and that is why the floor is sloped toward the center where drains are located. The thickness of the dome at the oculus is only about 4 feet compared with an amazing 21 feet at its base.

The roof of the Pantheon
The roof of the Pantheon | Source
The Bronze Doors
The Bronze Doors | Source

The Portico

The massive grey granite columns supporting the portico weigh sixty tons each. They are thirty nine feet tall, five feet in diameter and made from Egyptian stone. The columns were transported by wooden sleds from their quarry to the Nile River. From there they made their way by barge to Alexandria where they were shipped across the Mediterranean to the ancient port city of Ostia. From Ostia the columns came up the Tiber River to Rome on barges.

The large bronze doors that lead to the inner chamber of the Pantheon were at one time plated with gold. Although the current bronze doors, which measure twenty two feet high are considered to be ancient they are not the original doors of the Pantheon. The bronze doors that presently adorn the Pantheon were made too small for the door frames and have been in place since about the 15th century.

Columns and Portico
Columns and Portico | Source

Piazza della Rotonda

The Pantheon stands guard to the Piazza della Rotonda. This open square is a hub of activity and a gathering point for visitors and locals alike.

There are numerous cafes, bars and restaurants in the piazza and it makes for a great location to sit and relax while in the shadow of one of Rome’s greatest monuments. While the Piazza della Rotonda is considered a “touristy” spot, it is still a must visit and the perfect spot to study and gaze at this archaeological wonder of ancient Rome.

Piazza della Rotonda
Piazza della Rotonda | Source

The Interior

The interior of the Pantheon is circular with the diameter across the room measuring 142 feet, the same distance as the height from the floor to the oculus. In the 6th century the Vatican began using the Pantheon as a church and to this day masses are still held here. The Pantheon is also a popular venue for weddings and if you happen onto one while you’re visiting, it will be quite the spectacle to witness. The interior walls of the Pantheon contain a number of high altars, apses and tombs. Some of Rome’s most notable citizens are buried here including two Kings; Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I. The famous painter Raphael and composer Arcangelo Corelli are also entombed here. The walls of the Pantheon contain a number of paintings the most famous of which is the “Annunciation” by Melozzo da Forli.

Interior
Interior | Source

While many of the restaurants and bars outside the Pantheon on the Piazza della Rotonda are considered touristy this is still a great spot to spend some time. We did find a particularly good restaurant called “The Miscellanea”, that is located near the Pantheon that was a great spot for lunch. The place is recommended by Rick Steves and seemed to cater to the local lunch crowd which is usually a good sign. They had a great menu and the prices were very reasonable. Stop in if you’re looking a bite to eat after spending some time in the Pantheon.

Ciao for now.

Lunch is served!
Lunch is served! | Source
Miscellania, great place for lunch.
Miscellania, great place for lunch. | Source
show route and directions
A markerThe Pantheon -
Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Rome, Italy
get directions

B markerPiazza Novana -
Piazza Navona, 00186 Rome, Italy
get directions

© 2012 Bill De Giulio

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    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Evan, enjoy Rome. It's one of the world's great cities. I've always said that Rome is like one big archaeological site, everywhere you look there is something amazing and historical. Ciao!

    • Evan Smiley profile image

      Evan Smiley 3 years ago from Oklahoma City

      Wow, I didn't even notice this was your hub, Bill! Sorry for the repeat enthusiasm about my Rome trip! But thanks again for the hub! So interesting.

    • Evan Smiley profile image

      Evan Smiley 3 years ago from Oklahoma City

      This was so fascinating! I am studying abroad in Rome this summer and I've bee doing as much research as possible!! Thanks for the hub! Very helpful!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Vanderleelie, Thank you for stopping by to visit the Pantheon. It really is an architectural marvel. Many thanks for the vote and share, have a great day.

    • Vanderleelie profile image

      Vanderleelie 4 years ago from New Brunswick, Canada

      I enjoyed reading this hub about the Pantheon, and have to marvel at the architectural features of the building. The roof construction actually looks very contemporary from the exterior! Voted up and shared.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Thelma. Glad you enjoyed the hub and that it brought back good memories. Rome certainly is an amazing place. Many thanks for the visit. Ciao :)

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

      I was there ages ago. That was before the Millennium. I had a very exiting week with my friend seeing those awesome places in Rome like the Pantheon. The pizza where we bought was very delicious. Eating at the reataurants in Rome is very expensive but if you eat where the locals are eating, it´s not only cheap but yummy. I wish I can go back there someday. Thanks for reminding me those awesome moments. Ciao;-)

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Jack. There is a lot to love about Rome. One of my favorite cities also. Thanks for stopping by.

    • jackb3 profile image

      John Patrick Baumann 4 years ago from St. Louis

      Roma is one of my favorite European cities, great job on the hub! Look forward to more

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      La bella Italia...here we come!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Sign us up.... I'm on my way to read about Latina and Amaseno.

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      So do I! I wish I could live there! Who knows, maybe we'll all have coffee together in some Italian bar in Rome lol

      P.S. I wrote two hubs on places to visit in Italy - Latina and Amaseno. You may want to check out the photo gallery!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi vox. We really enjoyed our time in Rome and the Pantheon is an amazing example of Roman ingenuity an architecture. There is so much to see and experience in Rome. We hope to return soon. Ciao!

    • vox vocis profile image

      Jasmine 5 years ago

      I've been there :) Hopefully, I'll visit the place many more times! Rome is the most beautiful city in the whole world!

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Dawn. Its been fun writing them.

    • Dawnrichard profile image

      Dawnrichard 5 years ago

      I always love your hubs.

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Dawn, glad you enjoyed it. There is so much to see and write about just in Rome. More to come....... Thanks for reading.

    • Dawnrichard profile image

      Dawnrichard 5 years ago

      Awesome hub dear...Please keep writing some more. You inspiring me to write such a nice one like yours.

      Dawnrichard

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Thank you. Rome is amazing and the Pantheon is certainly a must see if you go. One of the best things about a visit to Italy is the food. I hope you g et there one day. Thanks for the vote up and for reading.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Very inspiring hub and I hope I can visit this place one day. I really enjoy all the pictures here. The pizza looks so delicious, LOL. Thanks for share with us. Voted up and awesome!

      Prasetio

    • bdegiulio profile image
      Author

      Bill De Giulio 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Natashalh, Robie and Media Magnate, thank you all for the nice comments. Rome is one of my favorite places on earth. Media Magnate - how lucky are you to have been married there. You are right, it is never enough. We've been twice and are going back in September. Robie, wish I knew about that espresso bar, maybe next time. And Natashlh, hopefully you will get there one day soon. If you are like me you will be planning your second trip before your first one is complete. Thanks again.

    • Media Magnate Mom profile image

      Media Magnate Mom 5 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Italy is so fabulous! I was married there, my son was baptized there and we get back there every few years -- but it's never enough. Your hub takes me back in spirit, but is there a way to transport me physically?!? ;) Awesome and voted up!

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      Nice!! I've been at the Pantheon many times, and reading your hub made me want to go back. There is a bar very close to it that makes the best espresso coffee and the best "granita al caffe' con panna", it's like an espresso snowball with whipped cream. Just delicious!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      Super awesome pictures and information! I have never been to Italy, but I will definitely go one day. Thanks for the hub to tide me over until then.