The Pantheon (from Greek: “temple of all the gods”) is a former Roman temple turning Christian church and is located right in the middle of Rome city center, on Piazza della Rotonda. It is build on the site of an earlier temple commissioned by a Roman general, Marcus Agrippa (27 BC – 14 AD). It was completed by the emperor Hadrian about 126 AD and he chose to keep the inscription from Agrippa’s former temple that burned to the ground (source: Wikipedia). The inscription is clearly visible on the magnificent building today.
On the outside the Pantheon is 16 columns, 12 meters tall, hauled from a quarry around 4000 km away in Egypt. The interior is even more magnificent with an oculus, a 8.7 meter wide “skylight” which is the Pantheon’s only source of light (source: Mission Rome).
The dome in the Pantheon, which is considered the Romans’ most important architectural achievements, was for a long time the largest dome in the world. It harmonious appearance is due to a precisely calibrated symmetry – its diameter is exactly equal to the building’s interior height of 43.4 meters.The oculus, which symbolically connected the temple with the gods, plays a vital structural role by absorbing and redistributing the dome’s huge tensile forces (source: Wikipedia).
To sum it all up, the building is a magnificent sight both from the outside and from the inside. Entrance is free unless you want a guided tour, and the line even in peak season is not that bad.
Around the Piazza della Rotonda there are plenty of restaurants offering great view of the church. The prices here are a bit steeper than the ones in the narrow alleys, but the location still became our definite favorite while in Rome. We could sit here for hours just looking at the awesome building as well as just looking at all the people passing by. We were not at all envious of all the tour-groups wandering around in 35-40 Celsius in matching scarfs, listening for a guide for several hours. Some of them looked quite desperate to get away from it all.