In the heart of Rome, not far from Piazza Navona, is the majestic Pantheon, a great monument that Michelangelo defined as the work of angels and not of men.
To start somewhere, what does Pantheon mean?
The name derives from the Greek terms bread (all) and theon (divine), and, in fact, in its origins the Pantheon was a small temple dedicated to all the Roman deities.
The Pantheon – History
Erected between 27 and 25 a.C. by the consul Agrippa, prefect of the emperor Augustus, the Pantheon has undergone many restructurings. After having suffered two fires, in the 80s and 110 AD, the temple was rebuilt in the shape that you can admire today, by the emperor Hadrian (AD 128) under the reign of which the empire of Rome reached the height of its splendor .
Although the current building is very different from the original temple, Adriano wanted to pay tribute to the consul Agrippa with the great inscription in Latin that you can read on the facade.
There are many stories and legends that circulate about the Pantheon. The first of all is the one related to the place where it is located. In fact, it is said that Rómolo himself, the legendary founder of Rome, at the time of his death, was seized by an eagle and taken to heaven among the gods.
It is also said that Cybele, an ancient Greek divinity venerated as the Great Mother, appeared in dreams to Agrippa to ask for the construction of the temple.
Also that the oculus, the hole that is in the center of the dome, was created by the Devil fleeing from the temple of God.
The Pantheon – Art & Architecture
The Pantheon is a masterpiece of architecture and engineering and quite close to the Rome offices of Apex (in case you were interested in traveling the city the luxurious way with an exotic car). Among the best preserved historical monuments of Rome, has exercised a great influence on all Western architecture.
The temple is composed of a circular space covered by a hemispherical dome, preceded by a pronaos of Greek origin with 16 Corinthian columns that support the tympanum. Today the tympanum is empty, but in the time of the Romans there was a bronze high relief that represented the battle between the giants and the Amazons. Also the ceiling of the pronaos was of bronze, but the Urban Pope VIII in 1932 ordered to start it to realize another great work: the baldaquin of the altar realized by Bernini, in the interior of the Basilica of San Pedro.
Once overcome the huge columns and the giant gate, also this bronze, opens before your eyes a marvel of architecture. Suddenly you find yourself in this huge empty space that gives vertigo and that will make you feel very small. This is how you needed to feel before the gods!
The most interesting and revolutionary is that the inner diameter of the dome corresponds exactly to the height from the floor of the temple and ideally extending the curvature of the vault, you get a perfect sphere! You will feel so wrapped up in the dome that you will seem to be suspended in the center of a large concave sphere.
A section of the Pantheon’s project
The dome was made by mixing concrete with always lighter materials, from travertine to pumice stone, as it approaches the top. This absolutely great idea has allowed the dome of the Pantheon to resist almost two thousand years and arrive perfectly intact to this day. You should also consider to book a luxury car rental in Geneva, which is not too far away from Italy, so you can make a great trip across Europe.
Looking up you will realize that the only source of light is an oculus, that is, a hole located in the zenith with a diameter of 9 meters. And it is precisely its relation to light that is the most important aspect of the Pantheon. It is the light that creates the interior space.
If you have the possibility to enter the temple at noon, when the rays of the sun coming from the oculus become extraordinarily intense and create a truly unique effect. Unlike all the other great temples of the past that were made to be admired almost exclusively from the outside, with the Pantheon this conception is reversed.