The Pantheon in Rome was built on the Mars field and remains to be one of the best preserved buildings from ancient Rome. The main reason for it to be so well-maintained is that it was very early transformed into a catholic church.
As soon as one enters the building, one will notice the bright ray of light shining through the Opaion, the circular hole of the dome. This ray of light is the only source of light in the interior room. The rain dropping through the 9 m wide Opaion is drained off into the ground through 22 inconspicuous drains.
On the ruins of the temple that date back to the year 27 AD, emperor Hadrian had built the Pantheon in the period from 118 to 125 AD. The inscriptions of the old temple are discernible up to this very day. First, it exclusively functioned as a sacred edifice for all gods. The term “pantheon” is derived from ancient Greek and is linguistically a blend of two words: pan = all and theoi = gods. In 608 AD the pantheon was given to Pope Bonifatius IV. by the east Roman emperor Phokas. The Pope had the edifice sanctified as a church bearing the name Sancta Maria ad Martyres in the year after. The church was dedicated to all martyrs. This dedication is said to be the origin of the all saints holiday that was celebrated in 835 AD for the first time.
From the 16th century onwards, many important public figures were buried in the pantheon. From 1870 on, even Italian kings were interred here. Among many others, Viktor Emanuel II. and Margherita of Savoyen-Aosta have their tomb here, too. Even the famous Renaissance painter, Raffael, was laid to rest in the pantheon.
The pantheon has immensely influenced the history of architecture since the Early Modern Age. In the period from Renaissance up into the 19th century, it used to be the domed structure other famous buildings were constructed after, such as the St. Peter's Basilica or the Sainte-Geneviève church in Paris, which is nowadays known as the Panthéon of Paris.
How to get there
You can get here by taking the bus line 119, getting off at the stop “Pantheon“.