The Pantheon

shutterstock_145179031The Pantheon is an ancient Roman building located in Rome, Italy. It is considered as one of the best preserved of ancient Roman buildings. It was first built around 126 AD, a strong testament to its durability. Its dome is still considered as the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome, even after almost 2,000 years.

The Pantheon History

The Pantheon was first commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, a Roman statesman and general, to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Actium. It was built in the Campus Martius, which was then on the outskirts of Rome. It would become the temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. But the original Pantheon of Agrippa was completely destroyed by a huge fire in 80AD, except for its facade. It was Emperor Hadrian who was responsible for rebuilding Agrippa’s original temple sometime in 126 AD and which is now in its current state.

Although Hadrian built the current Pantheon, it was not his architects who had designed the building. It is believed that Emperor Trajan’s architect, Apollodorus of Damascus, designed the existing structure. It was only finished by Hadrian’s architects.

By 609AD, the Pantheon was given by the Byzantine emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface IV, who then converted it into a Christian church. This act helped save the Pantheon from the abandonment and destruction that happened to a majority of ancient Rome’s structures. By the Renaissance period, the Pantheon was used as a tomb. Currently, it is being used as a church, with masses celebrated regularly.

Pantheon Features

The Pantheon features a circular building with a portico made up of large granite Corinthian columns supporting a pediment above. The vestibule then leads the porch to the rotunda, which is housed under the building’s coffered concrete dome. The dome features an oculus, or a central opening that lets the light into the building’s interior. Over two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon still holds the distinction of having the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle is the same, 43.3 meters or 142 feet.

The Pantheon is considered as one of the best preserved of all the ancient Roman buildings. Its design is also very influential in Western architecture. Many other buildings, especially those built in the 19th and 20th centuries show some similarities to the outlined design of the Pantheon. Numerous public and government buildings in the US, along with universities, libraries and city halls, echo its portico and dome design.

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