Monday, October 09, 2006

Pantheon in Rome

Pantheon in Rome - Inside

This view over the Pantheon is part of one of the panoramic images found on the Tour of Rome. There are over 100 images taken from around Rome linked to an interactive map.

Full 360° panorama of the Pantheon

The Pantheon survives virtually intact from ancient Roman times. It was originally dedicated to ‘all the gods’ – pan theon. The area in which it stands was a favorite Roman promenade filled with gardens and temples. The Pantheon we see today is the result of a building programme by Emperor Hadrian in 128 AD.

The survival of the Pantheon is credited, among other things, to two strokegs of fortune. It was the first pagan temple to be converted into a church, in 609, and in 734 pope Gregory III lined the roof with lead thus helping preserve it. However, the Pantheon, now dedicated to S Maria ad Martyres, did not survive unscathed and in 667 the Byzantine Emperor Constans II nicked all the bronze he could find in Rome including that lining the Pantheon to be melted down for coins in Constantinople.

However, when possible the popes always took care of this earliest church in Rome. The interior is stunning. Sunlight (and rain) pours through the oculus in the centre of a dome slightly larger than that at St. Peter’s. The interior is lined with lush marble and almost entirely intact in it’s original form except for the statues that used to line the alcoves. The bronze doors into the Pantheon were rebuilt by pope Pius IV in 1563, but later Bernini pillaged the bronze from the roof (again) to make the baldacchino at St Peter’s and 80 cannons for Pope Urban to install in Castel Sant’Angelo.

The Pantheon in Rome is hugely popular with tourists. Come here any time after 10am and you are likely not to be able to see the floor for the people, which is a shame as the marble floor is well worth it. In fact, all you will be able to see are groups of 100 or so people weaving their way among each other as they follow guides holding up umbrellas or poles with emblems on the top of them. Every so often a voice forlornly calls out in six or so languages urging people to be quiet. So if you actually want to see the Pantheon properly, then you have to get there when it opens.

Thus the part of the panoramic shown here was taken at around 8:30 in the morning when the place was relatively quiet and before trying to get quickly to St Peter’s for the same reason. The full panoramic image shown on the Rome tour by For better appreciation of this image go to the collection on Flickr.

For more articles on Rome see the Rome Index or select one of the labels at the bottom.

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