Pantheon of Rome!

So back to mamma mia Italia ciao the outer neighbors as far in the south part of France. I have been there a bit mostly in Rome and Carpi, Bologna, Modena, Milan areas over the years. I like to go back there and mention something big that I had just briefly stated in previous posts on Italy.

I like to tell you the fascinating story of the Pantheon of Rome, and from a historical architectural look as my favorite. It is at a very nice area to walk in Rome too; we came there by bus after leaving my car in the apartment in Nomentano.

The Pantheon is an ancient religious edifice located in Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, built on the order of Agrippa in the 1C B.C., damaged by several fires, and entirely rebuilt under Hadrian at the beginning of the 2C.  Originally, the Pantheon was a temple dedicated to all the deities of the ancient religion. It was converted into a Church in the 7C and is now the Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyrs. It is the largest ancient Roman monument that has reached us practically intact, due to its uninterrupted use until today. It gave the name to a neighborhood in Rome.

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The Pantheon supports the largest dome of all antiquity with 150 Roman feet or 43.30 meters in diameter inside (or 43.44 m3), which remains the world’s largest unreinforced concrete building. After almost two millennia, this remarkable construction has no sign of weakness in its structure despite the deliberate mutilation and repeated terrestrial movements!

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A bit more on the history and architecture of the Pantheon of Rome, fascinating!

The original Pantheon was built in 27 B.C., at the beginning of the reign of Augustus, by Agrippa, the companion of Augustus, who thus participated in the policy of embellishment of the city, encouraged by Augustus. He built the pantheon and the Baths of Agrippa on the margins of the urban part of Rome, near the field of Mars, a region conducive to major urban developments.

Agrippa’s Pantheon was destroyed by a new fire in 110, under Trajan. It was completely rebuilt during the reign of the emperor Hadrian, around the year 125, as revealed by the dates printed in the bricks, between 123 and 125. It can be assumed that Hadrian inaugurated it during his extended stay in Rome between 125 and 128. He even used it occasionally as a court, making justice in the company of a few senators.

The temple housed many statues, including those of Ares (Mars), father of Romulus, that of Aphrodite (Venus), ancestral deity of the people Iulia, as well as that of the Divine Julius Caesar; The entrance was thus kept on both sides by the statues of Augustus and Agrippa, both consuls in 27 B.C., which apparently respected the Republican parity of powers and confirmed Agrippa’s ascension as the potential heir to Augustus.

After the impetus provided by Nero’s innovative projects, followed by the colossal achievements of the Flavians and Trajan, the Romans mastered the techniques of the art of building’s, as evidenced by the vast domes of the Domus Aurea of Nero and the thermal Baths of Baiae: that of the so-called Temple of Venus has a diameter of 26 meters, that of the Temple of Diane reaches 29.5 meters and that of the Temple of Apollo, near Baiae, comes to a diameter of 38 meters. They all preceded Hadrian’s reign.

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The reconstruction of the Pantheon retained the north-south axis of the building, but reversed the direction of the entrance and directed it northward. The pronaos and the transitional building with the rotunda occupied the location of the old building, and the rotunda fills the space between the ancient entrance and the Basilica of Neptune. The new temple was surrounded by a portico on three sides about 60 by 120 meters, and preceded by a paved travertine courtyard. The pronaos, which measures 33.1 meters wide for 15.6 meters deep, was raised by a podium of 1.3 meters and accessible by a staircase of five steps. Over the centuries, the surrounding soil has risen, and the place that surrounds the Pantheon now reaches the level of the podium.

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The Pantheon façade portico has 16 Corinthian columns monoliths of granite, with marble marquees, arranged on three rows: eight columns on the facade followed by two rows of four columns. The outer columns are in light grey granite, the four inner columns are in darker pink granite. They all come from the quarries of Egypt. The drums of 12.5 meters in height for a diameter at the base of 1.5 meters weigh about 69 tons. Architectural Innovation to note, the barrel of the columns is not fluted, but smooth. Two columns were removed in the Middle Ages to the left and replaced by columns of the Baths of Nero in the 17C.  Between the pronaos and the Rotunda an intermediate building, as large as the pronaos that it extends, is 34 meters, but higher than it, culminates at the same level as the Rotunda. It forms the bottom of the pronaos and connects the pronaos to the cella, delivering passage from one to the other through its central portal. The present bronze doors, different in proportion to the entrance, come from another ancient edifice, and are the largest that ancient times bequeathed to us. The white marble veneers that covered the outer walls and decorated them with fluted pilasters are partially in place. The Pantheon is therefore articulated in three architectural blocks with differentiated volumes, pronaos in prism, cubical transition building and circular rotunda.

The rotunda is a perfectly circular wall of 58 meters in outer diameter that forms a double wall of almost 7 meters thick. It is based on a powerful foundation, 7.30 meters wide and 4.5 meters deep. Its inner part, with a radius of 21.7 meters equal to its interior height, ensures a double role: it forms the decor of the cella, and it supports the weight of the dome. This inner wall is divided into two horizontal levels: the upper level, delimited by two circular cornices, is a transition décor, alternating with false square windows, marble slabs of color and porphyry rectangles. This decoration was made in 1747, and  replaces the original Roman decoration. The paving of the floor, perfectly restored, is in marquetry of slabs of colored stones.

Internally, the Dome fits in a perfect sphere of 150 Roman feet, or 43.30 meters in diameter, with an equal height of 43.30 meters. This theoretical sphere is therefore tangent to the surface of the soil. It is ribbed by 140 stucco boxes, arranged on five rows of concentric rings of pozzolan and limestone concrete and of decreasing size that leave the top cap free. This cap is pierced with a central oculus of 8.7 meters in diameter.

The Byzantines took control of Rome in the 6C. Obviously the Pantheon, a once public monument, remained imperial property, since in 609 the Byzantine Emperor Phokas donated it to Pope Boniface IV. He consecrated it as a Christian Church to the Virgin Mary and to the Martyrs (St. Mary to the Martyrs), a title the Pantheon still bears today.

The Church of the Pantheon was the subject of a struggle of influence between the Papacy and the city of Rome. With the formation of the Kingdom of Italy, the House of Savoy obtained from the Pope to be awarded the Church so that the kings were buried there, making this place a modern Pantheon, hence its present name while the Italians colloquially called it the Rotunda or Ritonna. The Roman question was decided in the aftermath of the Latran Agreements in 1929, the Church now assuming the title of Basilica Palatine and becoming the official Church of all Italians. Today, the Pantheon is a tourist crossroads in the heart of the old quarters of Rome, and overlooks Piazza della Rotonda (Rotunda square). The obelisk of the Pantheon that rises from 1578 on the fountain comes from the nearby Egyptian sanctuary.

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The Pantheon, the best preserved model of Roman monumental architecture, had a huge influence on European and American architects from the Renaissance to the 19C. Numerous public halls, universities and libraries have imitated its composition of a portico with a pediment and a dome.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and it is a must while in Rome are

Tourist office of Rome on the Pantheon

A nice Rome portal on the Pantheon

Museums of Rome on the Pantheon

There you another wonderful place to visit in nice Rome, a favorite spot so plan ahead. the Pantheon is a must I say!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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One Comment to “Pantheon of Rome!”

  1. A marvel to behold. We were lucky enough to visit Rome in October and the Pantheon was empty so we were able to have a good look and take our time.

    Liked by 1 person

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