When you think of Rome, images of the Colosseum, and the Vatican come to mind. As old as these buildings may be, the oldest surviving Roman building that is still in use today is the Pantheon. Named from the Greek meaning 'to every god', it was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD.
At the top of the dome is a large opening, known as the oculus, which was the only source of light.
The front portico has three rows of 8 columns, each one with a diameter of 1.5m. Amazingly, each of these monolithic columns is cut from a single piece of marble.
The history of the Pantheon
The construction of the Pantheon was part of a program of construction that was undertaken by Augustus Caesar and his supporters. Together, they built more than twenty structures on the Campus Martius, including the Baths of Agrippa and the Saepta Julia.
The inscription across the front of the Pantheon says: M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT or in full,
"M[arcus] Agrippa L[ucii] f[ilius] co[n] s[ul] tertium fecit,"meaning "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made this building when consul for the third time."
However, archaeological excavations have shown that the Pantheon of Agrippa had been completely destroyed except for the facade, and Emperor Hadrian was responsible for rebuilding the Pantheon on the site of Agrippa's original temple.
The Pantheon now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and of several Italian Kings.
Its ecclasiastic interior design contrast with the temple's structural design, but the marble floor - which features a design consisting of a series of geometric patterns - is still the ancient Roman original.
The rotunda is perhaps the most striking element of the pantheons architecture. In fact it was the largest dome in the world until 1436 when the Florence Cathedral was constructed.
The stresses in the dome were found to be substantially reduced by the use of successively less dense aggregate stones, such as small pots or pieces of pumice, in higher layers of the dome.
Hidden chambers engineered within the rotunda form a sophisticated honeycomb structure. This reduced the weight of the roof, as did the elimination of the apex by means of the oculus. The top of the rotunda wall features a series of brick relieving arches, visible on the outside and built into the mass of the brickwork. The Pantheon is full of such devices – for example, there are relieving arches over the recesses inside – but all these arches were hidden by marble facing on the interior and possibly by stone revetment or stucco on the exterior.
These dimensions make more sense when expressed in ancient Roman units of measurement: The dome spans 150 Roman feet; the oculus is 30 Roman feet in diameter; the doorway is 40 Roman feet high.
The Pantheon still holds the record for the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is also substantially larger than earlier domes. Though often drawn as a free-standing building, there was a building at its rear into which it abutted. While this building helped buttress the rotunda, there was no interior passage from one to the other.
For related articles click onto:
AMSTERDAM: The Rembrandt Museum
ATHENS: How to get to Athens city from Athens International Airport?
ATHENS: The Arch of Hadrian
ATHENS: The Acropolis
ATHENS: The Caryatids
ATHENS: The Parthenon
ATHENS: Tower of the Winds
BATH: Roman Baths
ENGLAND: What is the Eden project?
ENGLAND: What is Stonehenge?
GREEK HISTORY: Who was Archimedes?
ITALIAN HISTORY: Who was Christopher Columbus?
LONDON: Big Ben
LONDON: Buckingham Palace
LONDON: Buckingham Palace
LONDON: The Eye of London
LONDON: The London Eye
LONDON: The Houses of Parliament
LONDON: The London Eye
LONDON: Tower Bridge
ITALY: Rome Pictures
Roman England: The Kings Bath
Rome: Gladiator Graveyard Discovered!
Rome: How to get to Villa Adriana from Rome
Rome: How to get to Villa D'Este from Rome
Rome: How to make Roman Bread - panis
Rome: Julius Caesar
Rome: Opening Times for Villa D'Este
Rome: Photographs of and around the Colosseum at Night
Rome: The Pantheon
ROME: The Pantheon
Rome: Villa Adriana - Tivoli
ROME: Villa d'Este
Rome: What did Gladiators Eat?
Rome: What did the Romans Eat?
ROME: What was a Gladiator?
Rome: Who were the Ancient Gladiators?
The History of the Olympic Games
The Houses of Parliament
The Island of Statues - Easter Island
The Olympic Games
The Olympic Medal
VALENCIA: The Turia River
Valencia - How to get to Valencia City from Valencia Airport
What is Stonehenge?
Where is Stonehenge?
Based on an article from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheon,_Rome and http://www.aviewoncities.com/rome/pantheon.htm
Photos are from my Roman holiday 2011 and http://scienceman2008.blogspot.co.uk/