Monday, May 4, 2015

The Pantheon

Another one of the main attractions in Rome is the Pantheon, a beautiful temple built about 2000 years ago by the Emperor Hadrian, dedicated to all the pagan gods. The Pantheon is located in the middle of the city, off of the main shopping street called Via Corso, and admission is free.

We wandered through the gorgeous alleyways of the neighborhood known as Old Rome, and stopped to get gelato before arriving at the Pantheon at dusk. There was still a good crowd of visitors at this time of day, as well as some street performers and vendors, creating a lively atmosphere in the square in front of the Pantheon.

The architecture of the temple is astounding - the dome is enormous and perfectly round, with a circular opening at the top for rainwater to fall through. The opening also allows natural light to filter in during the day. It is the world's largest unenforced concrete dome!

It is still used as a church. I cannot imagine how amazing it would be a local and to go to church regularly in the Pantheon.

I wish I could have gone during rainy weather to watch the rain fall through the opening at the top of the dome (known as an oculus). The Romans were quite advanced engineers and built a drainage system underneath the Pantheon to capture the rainwater.

It had rained earlier that day so I could still see the last of the puddles of rain on the ground directly underneath the oculus.

Another interesting fact about the Pantheon is that it holds the remains of the famous artist Raphael, in a sarcophagus in one of the alcoves. Two kings of Italy are also buried in this space.

By the time we left the building, it was already nightfall. The square outside was as lively as ever, with a guitar player serenading the crowd. The Pantheon is a very interesting historically and architecturally, and additionally it is free, so I would highly recommend that any visitor to Rome drop by to take a look.

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