This amazing building is standing on the same spot since before the birth of Christ. It is one of the rare testimonials to the glory of the Roman Empire from the period of the First Roman Imperator Augustus. While enjoying your tour you may notice that this was an enormous undertaking back in the day and it will give you chills just trying to imagine the number of people who passed through this building till now.
The name of this structure comes from Greek compound, meaning a temple dedicated to all Gods. A lot has been theorized on this subject, some even claimed that “Pantheon” was just a nickname that was derived either because its large number of statues dedicated to Gods or because of its resemblance to heavens. Till this day this question stays unsolved.
In 31 BC, Marcus Agrippa (a famous roman general and a very close friend of the first Roman Imperator Augustus, August) started an impressive building project: The Baths of Agrippa, The Basilica of Neptune and Pantheon. It has been theorized that the basilica and Pantheon were private property of Agrippa and that this might have been the reason why the original name of Pantheon was so easily forgotten.
The original shape of the temple is still a hot topic among the scholars, some claim that the original Agrippa’s structure was in the shape of the letter T with the entrance facing the south, while others prefer the version that the entrance was facing north like nowadays and the structure looked more like the one standing today. Different opinions result from the fact that Pantheon was destroyed in fire in 80AD and was rebuilt afterwards by Domitian and burned again in 110AD in a fire caused by a lightening. The temple was rebuilt again by the Imperator Hadrian. This is the reason for debate among the scholars, as to which work should be attributed to which Imperator.
In 609 the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the building to the Pope Boniface IV, who transformed it into a church which is nowadays called Santa Maria dei Martiri. On the one side, after Pantheon became a church its period of the degradation started, when it was stripped of all the ornaments, but on the other side this transformation was the only reason the building is preserved today and not stripped of building material like it happened to other ancient structures.
Ticket price for Pantheon in Rome
The entrance is FREE of charge.
Working hours of Pantheon in Rome
From Monday to Saturday working hours are: 8:30-19:30h.
On Sundays working hours are: 9:00-18:00h.
On holydays Pantheon is open from 9:00 to 13:00h.
-Because of the shape of the building (cylindrical base with semi sphere on top) the locals called it Ritonna, Rotonda (round) which is why the piazza in front of the temple got its name Piazza della Rotonda.
-Above the entrance to the building there is an inscription: M AGRIPPA L F COS TERTIVM FECIT, the shortened version of: Marcus Agrippa Lucii Filius Con sul tertium fecit, which means: Marcus Agrippa, the son of Lucius, made (this building) as a consul for the third time. It’s been suggested that even this sign that was long believed as a remaining of the original building is actually not original. Allegedly, it is not probable that Agrippa asked for an inscription like this, because this inscription was often used to honor him after his death.
-From the scarce literature about Pantheon preserved till today it’s interesting that even in the year 200 there were doubts about the original name of the building and its original purpose.
-The Pope Urban VIII ordered that bronze ceiling of Pantheon be melted down. Bronze was used for production of cannons that was used to fortify the castle Sant’ Angelo. It is speculated that a part of this bronze was used for the famous high altar of the Saint Peters Cathedral.
-Two kings of Italy were buried in Pantheon: Vittorio Emanuele II (in 1861 became the first king of the unified Italy, the first after the 6th century) and Umberto I (ruled from 1878 till his assassination in 1900).