Pantheon (Rome)

Pantheon (Rome)


Description of the Pantheon

 Piazza della Rotunda
Tel. 06-6830 0230
Bus: 116
Open: 8:30am- 7:30pm Mon- Sat
9am- 6pm Sun
Closed: Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25


The Pantheon (in ancient Greek: Πάνθεων, "[temple] of all the gods"), Pantheum in classical Latin, is a building of ancient Rome located in the Pigna district in the historic center, built as a temple dedicated to all the past deities, present and future. It was founded in 27 BC. from the harpinate Marco Vipsanio Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus. Agrippa dedicated it to the goddess Cybele and to all the gods. It was rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian presumably from 112-115 until 124 AD. approximately, after the fires of 80 and 110 AD they had damaged the previous construction of the Augustan age.

It is composed of a circular structure joined to a pronaos in Corinthian columns (eight at the front and two groups of four in the second and third row) that support a pediment. The large circular cell, known as the rotunda, is surrounded by thick masonry walls and eight large pillars on which the weight of the characteristic hemispherical dome in concrete is distributed, which houses at its apex a circular opening called oculus, which allows the illumination of the internal environment. The height of the building calculated at the oculus is equal to the diameter of the rotunda, a feature that reflects the classical criteria of balanced and harmonious architecture. Almost two millennia after its construction, the intrados dome of the Pantheon is still today one of the largest domes in the world, and specifically the largest built in Roman concrete.

At the beginning of the 7th century, the Pantheon was donated by Emperor Phocas to Pope Boniface IV and was converted into a Christian basilica called Santa Maria della Rotonda or Santa Maria ad Martyres, which allowed it to survive almost intact the looting inflicted by the popes on the buildings of classical Rome. It enjoys the rank of minor basilica and is the only basilica in Rome besides the patriarchal ones to still have a chapter. The inhabitants of Rome popularly called it la Rotonna ("la Rotonda"), from which the name of the square and the street in front of it also derive.

Currently owned by the Italian State, since December 2014 the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities has managed it through the Lazio Museum Complex, and since December 2019 through the State Museums Direction of Rome. In 2019 it registered 8 955 569 visitors, making it the most visited Italian state museum site.

Pantheon (Rome)


The word Pantheon is in effect a Greek loan that the Italian language has kept through Latin: in Greek τό πάνθειον is a noun adjective indicating "the totality of the gods" and, in most cases, it implies the noun ἱερόν (" temple"). Therefore, from the Greek τό Πάνθειον (ἱερόν) ("The temple of all the gods") comes the Latin cast Pantheon, used by Pliny the Elder, who gave the word to the Italian language.

Cassius Dio, a Roman senator who wrote in Greek, hypothesized that the name derives from the numerous statues of gods placed along the walls of the building or from the similarity of the dome to the celestial vault. His uncertainty suggests that the name Pantheon (or Pantheum) was just a nickname, not the official name of the building.

Indeed, the concept that there could be a temple dedicated to all the gods is debatable. The only "pantheon" actually recorded by the sources before that of Agrippa was in Antioch in Syria, although it was mentioned only by a source of the sixth century AD.

Ziegler tried to collect evidence regarding the existence of panthea, but his list consists only of simple dedications such as "to all the gods" or "the twelve gods", which are not necessarily citations of actual temples where the worship of all gods.


The Pantheon of Agrippa

The first Pantheon was built in 27-25 BC. by Marco Vipsanio Agrippa, friend and son-in-law of Augustus, as part of the monumentalization of the Campo Marzio, entrusting its construction to Lucio Cocceio Aucto. In fact, it stood between the Saepta Iulia and the basilica of Neptune, built at the expense of Agrippa himself on an area owned by him, in which the baths of Agrippa, the basilica of Neptune and the Pantheon itself were aligned from south to north. .

It seems likely that both the Pantheon and the basilica of Neptune were Agrippa's private sacra (private buildings for sacred use) and not aedes publicae (temples for public use). This less solemn function could help explain why the memory of the original name and its function were so quickly and easily lost (Ziolkowski speculates that it was originally the temple of Mars in Campus Martius).

The original dedication inscription of the building, reported on the subsequent reconstruction of the Hadrian period, reads: M AGRIPPA L F COS TERTIVM FECIT, that is:

"It was built by Marco Agrippa, son of Lucio, consul for the third time"

"Marcus Agrippa, Lucii filius, consul tertium fecit"

The third consulate of Agrippa dates back to the year 27 BC. However Cassius Dio lists it with the basilica of Neptune and the Laconian Gymnasium among the works of Agrippa completed in 25 BC.

From the remains found about 2.50 meters below the building at the end of the 19th century, it is known that this first temple was rectangular in plan (43.76 × 19.82 meters) with a transversely arranged cell, wider than long (as the temple of Concordia in the Roman Forum and the small temple of Veiove on the Campidoglio), built in blocks of travertine covered with marble slabs. The building faced south, in the opposite direction to Hadrian's reconstruction, preceded by a pronaos on the long side measuring 21.26 meters in width. In front of it there was a circular uncovered area, a sort of square that separated the temple from the basilica of Neptune, enclosed by a wall in reticulated work and with a floor in travertine slabs. On top of these slabs, others of marble were then laid, perhaps during the Domitian restoration.

However, Agrippa's building had the central axis that coincided with that of the more recent building and the width of the cell was equal to the internal diameter of the rotunda. The entire depth of the Augustan building also coincides with the depth of the Hadrianic pronaos.

The only source that describes what the decorations of Agrippa's Pantheon were is Pliny the Elder, who saw it in person. In fact, in his Naturalis Historia he reports that the capitals were made of Syracusan bronze and that the decoration included caryatids and pedimental statues. The caryatids, placed on the columns of the temple, were sculpted by the neo-attic artist Diogenes of Athens.

The temple overlooked a square (now occupied by the Hadrianic rotunda) limited on the opposite side by the basilica of Neptune.

Cassio Dione Cocceiano states that the "Pantheon" had this name perhaps because it housed the statues of many divinities or more likely because the dome of the building recalled the celestial vault (and therefore the seven planetary divinities), and that Agrippa's intention was that of creating a dynastic place of worship, dedicated to the protector gods of the gens Iulia (Mars and Venus), and where a statue of Octavian Augustus was placed, from which the building would have derived its name. Since the emperor was opposed to both, Agrippa had a statue of the Divine Julius (i.e. of the deified Caesar) placed inside and, outside, in the pronaos, one of Octavian and one of himself, in celebration of their friendship. and their zeal for the public good.

Destroyed by fire in 80, it was restored under Domitian, but suffered a second destruction in 110 AD. under Trajan due to lightning.


Pantheon (Rome)

The Hadrian's Pantheon

There is the (erroneous) opinion that under Hadrian the building was entirely rebuilt [26] between 112-115 and 124, while a previous hypothesis placed the reconstruction between 118 and 128. It can be hypothesized that the temple was it was dedicated by the emperor during his stay in the capital between 125 and 127.

The brick stamps (annual trademarks on bricks) belong to the years 115-127. But only as slight corrections in the upper part of the walls. Most (98%) of the brick stamps belong to the years 30-15 BC. and therefore Adriano did not rebuild but only made small adjustments. Here are the other versions about the rebuilding of the Pantheon, always wrong. According to some, the project, drawn up immediately after the destruction of the previous building in the Trajan era, would be attributable to the architect Apollodorus of Damascus. It is also possible, according to considerations on the irregularities and peculiarities of the construction, that the construction was begun under Trajan, resumed on his death by Hadrian, interrupted for some time, then completed with some changes to the initial project, in particular related to the reduction of the height of the columns of the pronaos from 50 to 40 feet.

The building consists of a pronaos connected to a large round cell by means of an intermediate rectangular structure. Compared to the previous building, the orientation was reversed, facing north. The large pronaos and the connecting structure with the cell (forepart) occupied the entire space of the previous temple, while the rotunda was built almost making it coincide with the fenced circular Augustan square that divided the Pantheon from the basilica of Neptune. The temple was preceded by a square with arcades on three sides and paved with travertine slabs.

The rotunda was erected on a sturdy foundation formed by a concrete ring 7.3 m thick and 4.5 m deep.

Chronologically, first the circular cell was built, then the forepart and, finally, the pronaos.

The pronaos
The octastyle pronaos (16 columns, 8 gray granite columns from the island of Elba and 8 pink granite columns from the Mons Claudianus quarry in Egypt), measures 34.20 × 15.62 m and was raised by 1, 32 m above the level of the square which was accessed by means of five steps. The total height of the order is 14.15 m and the stems have a diameter of 1.48 m at the base.

On the façade the frieze bears the inscription of Agrippa in bronze letters, while a second inscription, in smaller characters, relating to a modest restoration carried out in 202 AD. by Septimius Severus and Caracalla, it was engraved on the architrave under the first one. The pediment must have been decorated with bronze figures, fixed on the bottom with pins whose seats are visible in the marble of the pediment.

Inside, four rows of two columns (placed in correspondence with the first, third, sixth and eighth columns of the first row) divide the space into three naves: the larger central one leads to the large access door of the cell, while the two lateral ones they end in large niches that were supposed to house the statues of Augustus and Agrippa transferred here from the Augustan building.

The shafts of the columns were in gray granite (eight on the façade) or pink (eight, distributed in the two rows behind them), coming from the Egyptian quarries of Aswan, and the shafts of the arcades of the square were also in gray granite, although of smaller dimensions. The Corinthian capitals, the bases and the elements of the entablature were in Pentelic white marble, coming from Greece. The last column on the eastern side of the pronaos, already missing from the 15th century, was replaced by a gray granite shaft under Pope Alexander VII and the column at the eastern end of the façade was also replaced under Pope Urban VIII with a red granite shaft. : the original alternation of colors in the columns has therefore been altered over time. The new columns both came from the Neronian Baths.

The tympanum (which is not calibrated according to the Greek canonical proportion) has become smooth due to the loss of the bronze decoration, of which, however, the holes for the supports that supported it can still be seen. From the position of the remaining holes, it is believed that the decoration may have represented an eagle with a crown.

The double sloping roof is supported by wooden trusses, supported by block walls with arches resting on the rows of internal columns. The bronze roof of the wooden truss of the pronaos was removed in 1625 (or in 1632) under Pope Urban VIII for the construction of 80 cannons of Castel Sant'Angelo and perhaps in a minimal part for the construction of the Baldacchino di San Pietro, the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini: for this "recycling" the famous pasquinata "Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini" was written.


The pronaos is paved with colored marble slabs which are arranged according to a geometric pattern of circles and squares. The sides of the pronaos are also covered in marble.

The forepart
The intermediate structure that connects the pronaos to the cell is a brickwork forepart (bricks), consisting of two massive pillars that lean against the rotunda, connected by a vault that continued seamlessly with the original suspended bronze vault of the central part of the pronaos. Access stairs to the upper part of the rotunda are inserted in the pillars. The wall is covered with Pentelic marble slabs and decorated on the outside and on the sides of the cell door by an order of pilasters that continue the order of the pronaos. Between the pilasters there are decorative panels with garlands, priestly symbols and sacrificial instruments.

On the outside, the structure has the same height as the cylinder of the rotunda and, like this one, must have had a stucco and plaster coating, which later disappeared.

On the façade a brick pediment repeats that of the pronaos at a greater height, and relates to the divisions of the string course cornices on the rotunda, which continue seamlessly on the outer walls of the rectangular structure above the order of pilasters. The pediment, hidden by the pronaos, however, had to be visible only from a great distance.

The difference in level between the two pediments has led to the hypothesis that the pronaos of the building was originally planned to be larger, with column shafts of 50 feet (14.80 m) instead of 40 feet (11.84 m) , but that the Egyptian granite quarries, already exploited for the shafts of the monumental northern entrance of the Trajan's Forum, were not able to provide other monolithic shafts of such exceptional dimensions and that the project therefore had to be reduced and modified.

The bronze door, the oldest and most impressive of those still in use in Rome, measures 4.45m wide by 7.53m high.

The outside of the roundabout
The outside of the rotunda hides the dome for a third, building a cylindrical body which is nothing more than the vertical continuation of the drum. Between the dome and the external wall is thus enclosed a large cavity where a double system of windowed rooms has been obtained, organized on an annular corridor, which also has the function of lightening the weight of the vaults.

The external body of the rotunda, excluding the dome, was not visible in ancient times, as it was hidden by the presence of other adjoining buildings; for this reason it has no particular decorations, apart from three cornices with shelves at different heights: in correspondence with the entablature of the first internal order, along the line of the dome and on the crown.

Each of these three bands also correspond to different materials used in the building, which are gradually lighter; in more detail, from bottom to top, the following were used:
Band I: layers of concrete alternating with travertine and tuff flakes;
Band II: layers of concrete alternating with tuff and brick flakes;
III band: layers of concrete with only brick flakes.

Pantheon (Rome)

The interior of the rotunda
"I wanted this sanctuary of all gods to represent the terrestrial globe and the celestial sphere, a globe within which the seeds of eternal fire are contained, all contained in the hollow sphere"
(Marguerite Yourcenar, Memoirs of Hadrian)

The internal space of the round cell consists of a cylinder covered by a hemisphere. The cylinder has a height equal to the radius (21.72 m) and the total height of the interior is equal to the diameter (43.44 m; 43.30 m).

On the lower level there are six large stylistic niches (ie with two columns on the front), with an alternately rectangular (actually trapezoidal) and semicircular plan, plus the entrance niche and the apse. This first level is framed by an architectural order with columns at the opening of the niches and pilasters in the intermediate sections of the wall, which support a continuous entablature. Only the apse opposite the entrance is flanked by two columns protruding from the wall. The continuous entablature of the body of the rotunda continues in the apse; on it stands the apsidal basin with a semi-dome.

Between the pilasters, in the spaces between the niches, there are eight small aedicules on a high base, with alternately triangular and curvilinear pediments. The walls are covered with colored marble slabs.

The upper order, in opus sectile, had an order of porphyry pilasters framing windows and a cladding in colored marble slabs. The windows overlook the first internal lightening annular corridor. The original Roman decoration of this band was replaced by the architect Paolo Posi in 1747 on the recommendation of Pope Benedict XIV. In the south-western sector a part of the original Roman aspect of this level was restored in the thirties of the twentieth century, but in a not entirely precise way.

The floor of the rotunda is not the original one, because it was redone in 1873, but the effect is that of the Hadrian period, it is slightly convex towards the sides, with the highest part (shifted about 2 meters to the north-west from the center) raised by about 30 cm, while it is concave in the center to ensure that the rain that falls inside the temple through the oculus placed on the top of the dome, flows towards the 22 drainage holes located in the center of the rotunda. There are some legends according to which rain does not enter the oculus, due to a system of air currents, but they are obviously false.

The floor covering is in slabs with a pattern of squares in which smaller circles or squares are alternately inscribed. The materials used are porphyry, antique yellow, granite and pavonazzetto.

The dome
The dome, with a diameter of 43.44 m (43.30 m according to Cinti & al. And Coarelli), and weighing more than 5,000 tons, is the archetype of the domes built in the following centuries in Europe and in the Mediterranean, both in Christian churches and in Muslim mosques. As for the diameter, today, if we do not consider the roof of the CNIT (Center des nouvelles industries et technologies) in Paris as a dome (in reality it is a cross vault), the dome of the Pantheon is still the largest dome. to the world, surpassing both the dome of San Pietro (diameter 42.52 m) and the dome of Brunelleschi in Florence (minor diagonal 41.47 m) and the dome of Santa Sofia in Constantinople (greater diameter 31.24 m). Among the concrete domes, that of the Pantheon is still unsurpassed in diameter.

Inside it is decorated with five orders of twenty-eight drawers; twenty-eight was a number that the ancients considered perfect, since it is obtained from the sum 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 and that seven is a number that indicates perfection, since seven planets are visible to the naked eye. The caissons are of decreasing size proceeding upwards, and are absent in the wide smooth band near the zenith oculus, which measures 9 m in diameter. The oculus, which gives light to the dome, is surrounded by a frame of bronze-banded tiles fixed to the dome, which perhaps continued internally up to the highest row of caissons. A Roman tradition has it that rain does not penetrate into the Pantheon due to the so-called "chimney effect": in reality it is a legend linked to the past, when the myriad of candles that were lit in the church produced a current of hot air that rose towards the high and that meeting with the rain nebulized it, thus canceling the perception of the entry of water.


The realization was made possible thanks to a series of expedients that contribute to the lightening of the structure: from the use of drawers to the use of increasingly lighter materials towards the top. In the layer closest to the cylindrical drum there are layers of concrete with brick flakes, climbing up there is concrete with tuff flakes, while in the upper part, near the oculus, there is concrete mixed with volcanic lapilli. The dome was built in a single cast on a huge wooden rib.

On the outside, the dome is hidden below by an elevation of the rotunda wall, and is therefore divided into seven superimposed rings, the lower of which still retains the marble slab cladding. The remainder was covered with gilt bronze tiles, removed by the Byzantine Emperor Constant II in 655, with the exception of those surrounding the oculus, still in situ. In the 8th century Pope Gregory III restored the roof with lead plates. Restoration work on the roof was then carried out by the popes Niccolò V and Gregorio XVI. The thickness of the masonry tapers upwards (from 5.90 m below to 1.50 m in correspondence with the part around the central oculus).

Pantheon (Rome)


To resist all types of thrust, the internal structure of the central construction (round and dome) must simultaneously compensate for the vertical thrust at the top of the vault and the forces that are discharged at the base of the dome. The Roman builders solved these problems mainly in two ways: the search for the most suitable materials and the control of the orientation of the thrusts.

The choice of construction materials
The massive use of concrete (opus caementicium) cast between brick faces (opus latericium), makes the building a coherent block whose rigidity ensures good resistance to deformation forces. Depending on the elevation of the building, the concrete used includes a different granular aggregate, suitable for strength or lightness requirements.

Starting from the bottom, there are five different types of concrete: the wall of the rotunda, up to the first external frame, is made up of concrete in which tuff and travertine flakes are visible; between the first and second frame, the concrete is composed of tuff and bricks. The wall above the second cornice and the first ring of the dome is made of concrete with crushed bricks, while the second ring of the dome is constructed of concrete containing tuff and crushed bricks. The dome cap was made with great care, as it was built with concrete containing granular pumice and tuff, with progressively decreasing thickness, from 5.90 m at the base up to only 1.5 m at the level of the oculus, covered then with a 15 cm layer of sealant coating.

The mortar of Roman concrete is a mixture of sand and lime. Over time, it tends to calcify more and more, which ensures an excellent seal over the centuries.

The reorientation of the thrusts
The static thrusts are manifold: the base of the dome (4 in the figure on the side) tends to push the wall that supports it outwards. This cylinder is not full, but hollowed out by the 7 exedras (3 in the figure on the side) and by the entrance and also by the empty sections of the upper level. The weight of the dome is thus supported by the eight massive masonry pillars that separate these empty spaces.

It was therefore necessary both to compensate for the centrifugal thrusts and to orient the vertical thrusts on the eight pillars. To achieve these results, the manufacturers adopted multiple solutions:
the external wall (1 in the figure on the side) exceeds the foot of the dome by 8.40 m (5 in the figure on the side) and acts as a buttress;
at the base of the dome there is a series of seven concrete rings arranged in steps (6 in the figure on the side), visible from the outside, which increase the vertical thrust component compared to the horizontal centrifugal one;
the thickness of the rotunda includes large bipedal unloading arches (square bricks with two feet on each side), which direct the thrust on the pillars of the rotunda; other brick arches included in the rotunda wall, but visible from the outside following the disappearance of the plaster, redirect the thrusts towards the pillars;
The bearing part of the cylindrical wall is reinforced by a series of small radial arches between the upper levels of the inner wall and the outer wall.

The characteristics of the architecture
The construction of the Pantheon was an engineering masterpiece, where the architectural idea was perfectly interpreted with an empirical technical approach (the subsidence and cracks that occurred immediately after construction were promptly remedied). The perfectly spherical spatiality gives the observer a feeling of extraordinary harmony, "motionless and enveloping", thanks also to the balanced relationships between the various members, with articulated effects of light and shadow in the coffers, niches and aedicules.

The insertion of a large round room behind the pronaos of a classical temple is unprecedented in the ancient world, at least judging from the architecture that has come down to us or that we know from literary sources. There is perhaps a precedent in Rome of a circular building with a pronaos, dating back to the late Republican era, albeit on an extremely modest scale: the temple B of Largo di Torre Argentina. The merger between a classicist model (the colonnaded pronaos) and a building with a new, typically Roman spatiality (the rotunda), was a sort of compromise between the spatiality of Greek architecture (attentive essentially to the exterior of the buildings) and that of Roman architecture (centered on interior spaces). This aroused various criticisms, but it was "an obvious tribute to the dominant classicism of the culture of Rome", which persisted in the following centuries as well.


The model of the circular space covered with a hemispherical dome ending at the top with an oculus (circular opening) was already applied in a type of thermal room called laconicum, such as in the great imperial thermal rooms of Baia (the so-called "temple of Mercury "it was a circular room of 21.55 m in diameter built between the first century BC and the first century AD, covered by a hemispherical vault made for the first time in concrete, used as a pool for therapeutic diving) and Rome, or in a circular caenatio , as was the main hall of the central body of the Domus Aurea. However, the use of this type of roof for a Templar building was a novelty.

The surprise effect in crossing the cell door must have been remarkable and seems to be characteristic of the architecture of the Hadrianic period, also found in many parts of his private villa in Tivoli.

A further novelty was the introduction of smooth monolithic shafts of colored marble for the columns of a temple, in place of the traditional fluted shafts in white marble.

The next story
Sources inform us of a restoration under Antoninus Pius, while the inscription engraved on the entablature of the front recalls other restorations under Septimius Severus (in 202), mostly of marginal significance.

The building was saved from the destructions of the early Middle Ages because as early as 608 the Byzantine emperor Phocas had donated it to Pope Boniface IV (608-615), who transformed it in 609 into a Christian church with the name of Sancta Maria ad Martyres, consecrating it with a solemn procession of clergy and people. The title comes from the relics of anonymous Christian martyrs that were translated from the catacombs into the Pantheon's basement.
«This marvelous temple, according to common sentiment, [...] Panteon said to itself, because it was dedicated to all the Gods imagined by the Gentiles. In the upper part […] the statues of the celestial Gods were placed, and in the lower part the terrestrial ones, being in the middle that of Cybele; it is in the lower part, which is now covered by the floor, the statues of the penates were distributed. […] Bonifazio IV. to erase that nonsense, and filthy superstitions, the an. 607. purging him of every Gentile falsehood, consecrating to the true God in honor of the ss. Virgin, and of all the holy martyrs; therefore he had 18 carts of ss bones transported from various cemeteries. Martyrs, and had them placed under the high altar; hence it was said s. Maria ad Martyres "

(Giuseppe Vasi, Educational itinerary to rediscover the ancient and modern magnificence of Rome, 1763)

It was the first case of a pagan temple transposed to Christian worship. This fact makes it the only building in ancient Rome to have remained practically intact and continuously in use for religious purposes since its foundation.

The gilded bronze tiles that covered the dome on the outside were removed by order of Constant II, emperor of the East in 663 and replaced with a lead covering in 735. After the year 1000 the church took the name of Santa Maria Rotunda , from which the name of the square in front derives. Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447) had it restored, also freeing it from the shops that had been built around it over the years.

The bronze of the Pantheon
«The apse is in the collected mystery
A reddish shade
occupies the space. At the bottom, the metal shines, huge.
The four columns rise glittering in the shadows
that in the pagan bronze twisted Bernini in coils ».

In August 1625 the news spread among the Romans that Pope Urban VIII Barberini decided to cast the bronze joints of the beams of the Pantheon to make cannons for Castel Sant'Angelo.

"But the People, who curiously went to see such a work being undone, and could not help but feel sorry, and regret that such a beautiful and truly eternal antiquity, was now undone"

Particularly indignant was the Roman bourgeoisie who saw in the action of the pope an overwhelming of traditional law which entrusted the custody of the ancient Roman monuments directly to the people who, feeling diminished in their dignity, thus appealed to the pope because "to many good and pious people I deeply regret that that most holy temple ... Your Beatitude has ruined and un-embellished to convert those metals into artillery. Conciossiacosaché the riches of the Church did not begin with those metals, nor the authority of the popes with the force of arms and artillery ». Carlo Maderno was appointed director of the deprecated works on the Pantheon, which lasted until 1632, with assistant Francesco Castelli who will take the nickname of Borromini.

Thus began to circulate in those days a pasquinata, which remained famous for its icastic laconicity, attributed to Carlo Castelli or even to the Pope's doctor Giulio Mancini, known as a passionate lover of classical art:

"What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did"

"Quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini"


Pope Urban, warned of popular discontent, did not desist from his project and had the bronze of the Pantheon brought to the papal foundries and at the same time spread the word, through the notices posted on the walls of the city, that the bronze would be used above all for the twisted columns of the Bernini, for the canopy of the altar in St. Peter's Basilica and, to a lesser extent, for the cannons. The text of the notice, reproduced in the portico of the Pantheon, reads as follows: «URBANUS VIII PONT. MAX. VETUSTAS AHENEI LACUNARIS RELIQUIAS IN VATICANAS COLUMNAS ET BELLICA TORMENTA CONFLAVIT UT DECORA INUTILIA ET IPSI PROPE FAMAE UNKNOWN FIERENT IN VATICAN TEMPLUS APOSTOLIC SEPULCHRI ORNAMENTA IN HADRIANA ARCEXXE SECURITY PUBLIC. IX In fact, from the papers of the Archivio della Fabbrica di San Pietro we learn that almost all of the bronze of the beams (98.2%) was used for cannons and only the remaining 1.8% was delivered to Bernini who, however, distrusting the validity of the alloy used by the Romans, he returned it to the papal foundries. After all Bernini did not need the bronze of the Pantheon as he did not lack copper, taken from the roof of the dome of St. Peter's, nor the tin which, coming from the Cornish mines, was landed in Livorno and not in the nearest Civitavecchia where he was It is forbidden to dock with English Protestant ships.

In the same period, two bell towers were added to the sides of the pediment, the work of Gian Lorenzo Bernini since then the subject of much heated criticism, soon known with the derogatory "donkey ears"; they were eliminated in 1883 on the initiative of the then Minister of Education Guido Baccelli in the context of an extensive cycle of rehabilitation works which also saw the demolition of the buildings leaning against the monument and the restoration of the inscription in bronze letters on the front of the temple.

In 1786 Goethe visited the Pantheon obtaining a great emotional effect so much to write:

"Here the grandeur of the Rotonda, both outside and inside, has aroused in me a joyful sense of reverence."
(Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Journey to Italy)

The illustrious burials
Already in the fifteenth century, the Pantheon was enriched with frescoes: perhaps the best known is the Annunciation by Melozzo da Forlì, located in the first chapel to the right of those who enter. The church was then officially chosen as the seat of the Pontifical Distinguished Academy of Fine Arts and Literature of the Virtuosi al Pantheon, the academic front of the professional association of artists which would later become the National Academy of San Luca. Starting from the Renaissance in the Pantheon, as in all churches, burials were made, in particular of illustrious artists. Even today, among others, the tombs of the painters Raffaello Sanzio and Annibale Carracci, of the architect Baldassarre Peruzzi and of the musician Arcangelo Corelli are preserved.

The tombs of the kings of Italy
The Pantheon preserves the tombs of the two first kings of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I. The tomb of Vittorio Emanuele II is located in the central chapel on the right. In reality, the destination of the king's body in the Pantheon was the subject of heated discussion: many, in fact, wanted it to be interred in the Basilica of Superga, the traditional burial place of the Savoy. In the end, however, the will of the Prime Minister Agostino Depretis and the Minister of the Interior Francesco Crispi prevailed. The king's body was exhibited in the Pantheon on January 17, 1878; on February 16 the solemn state funeral was held at the Pantheon: on this occasion the building was solemnly decorated. The gigantic funerary plaque, with the epigraph "Vittorio Emanuele II - Father of the Fatherland" on it, which was temporarily superimposed on the frieze, was cast by Alessandro Nelli's foundry with the bronze of the cannons that had been snatched from the Austrians during the wars of 1848 , of 1849 and 1859.

The presence of the sovereign's tomb made the building one of the greatest shrines of the House of Savoy; at the same time it is linked to the future construction of the Vittoriano and therefore made the Pantheon one of the symbols of the Third Rome. As a memorial to the House of Savoy in 1882, protests arose immediately to prevent the body of Giuseppe Garibaldi from being buried in the Pantheon. Exactly on the opposite side of the Pantheon stands the tomb of King Umberto I and his consort, Queen Margherita. The tomb was designed by Giuseppe Sacconi, the same architect of the Vittoriano and the Expiatory Chapel of Monza or the memorial to Umberto I built in the place of the king's murder. The Pantheon tomb consists of a porphyry urn with four leonine protomes. The royal tombs are kept in order by volunteers from monarchical organizations. The honor guard service is rendered by the volunteers of the National Institute for the honor guard at the royal tombs of the Pantheon.


Pipe organ
The pipe organ of the Pantheon was conceived and built in 1926 by Giovanni Tamburini, of the homonymous firm Tamburini, on the occasion of the restoration of 1925-1933, and was inaugurated on 23 September of that same year. The instrument is equipped with a pneumatic wind chest with conical valves, called "double compartment", and is suitable for the interpretation of romantic music.

It is an electrically-driven instrument with ten real stops, placed above a double-compartment wind-chest and operated by both keyboards and the console pedal. The set of canes is placed in an expressive box inside the niche behind the statue of Sant'Erasio, to the left of the main apse. Also due to the humidity of the monument, it needed a radical restoration, which would bring it back to its original efficiency, for the full service of the liturgy and the numerous musical initiatives that the basilica promotes and hosts every year.

The Pantheon as a model
«The most beautiful remnant of Roman antiquity is undoubtedly the Pantheon. This temple has suffered so little that it appears to us as the Romans must have seen in their time "
(Stendhal, Roman walks)

As the best preserved example of Roman monumental architecture, the Pantheon had enormous influence on European and American architects (one example above all, Andrea Palladio with the famous Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza), from the Renaissance to the 19th century, with Neoclassicism. Numerous churches, civic halls, universities and libraries echo its structure with portico and dome. There are many famous buildings influenced by the Pantheon: in Italy we note the famous Pantheon of the monumental cemetery of Staglieno in Genoa, the façade of the Teatro Massimo in Palermo, the church of San Carlo al Corso in Milan, the basilica of San Francesco di Paola in Naples, the church of San Simeon Piccolo in Venice, the Cisternone in Livorno, the Canovian Temple in Possagno, the church of the Gran Madre di Dio and the Bela Rosin mausoleum in Turin. Abroad the Pantheon of Soufflot in Paris and, in the Anglo-Saxon countries, the rotunda of the British Museum, the villa of Monticello and the rotunda of the University of Virginia commissioned by Thomas Jefferson through the Palladian reinterpretation of the Pantheon, the Low Memorial Library of Columbia University of New York and Pope's Jefferson Memorial in Washington Also of note is the Church of the Holy Trinity (Trefaldighetskyrkan) in Karlskrona, southern Sweden.

However, the fundamental structure in the broad sense (building with a central plan with a dome with the addition of a facade inspired by the Greek temple and overlooking a square built specifically for the building) has been found, starting from Renaissance architecture, in countless buildings, first of all the Basilica of San Pietro.

People entombed in the Pantheon in Rome
The following people were buried inside the Pantheon:
Jacopo Barozzi from Vignola
Annibale Carracci (in the third aedicule, to the right of the tomb of Raffaello Sanzio),
Arcangelo Corelli (opposite the altar on the right),
John of Udine
Queen Margherita of Savoy (second chapel),
Perin del Vaga (near the altar),
Baldassarre Peruzzi,
Raffaello Sanzio (third newsstand),
Maria Antonietta di Bibbiena (in the third shrine, remembered with a plaque to the right of the tomb of Raffaello Sanzio),
King Umberto I of Savoy (second chapel),
Flaminio Vacca (near the altar),
King Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy (sixth chapel),
Taddeo Zuccari (near the altar),
Ercole Consalvi cardinal, his heart is buried under the bust that portrays him.

Archaeological excavations
1881-82, Excavations of the Palombella
1892-93, Investigations carried out by the Royal Ministry of Education. Reliefs and drawings by the architect Pier Olinto Armanini and an architectural model by the French architect Georges Chedanne
1996-97, Superintendence of cultural heritage of Rome


Popular legends and curiosities

A legend of medieval origin is linked to the moat that runs around the temple. It seems that the famous magician Pietro Barliario had secured the possession of the command book, delivered to him by the devil behind the sale of the soul. Except that, repented, he used his magical arts to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Santiago de Compostela and finally to the Pantheon in one day. Here he ran into the devil who asked for his soul as agreed; but Bailardo gave the devil a handful of nuts and quickly took refuge in the church, starting to pray sincerely repentant. So he was saved; the angry devil circled the temple several times, thus venting his fury, and such was the anger with which he ran that he dug the moat still visible today.
The weight of each building stone of the Pantheon reaches up to 90 tons. They are marble slabs that more than 2000 years ago came from Egypt for the erection of the new Roman temple.
The building was architecturally conceived to have a single oculus-shaped window on the dome almost 9 meters in diameter. From the lighting point of view, this opening towards the outside allows the light to fall overhead and therefore a skilful play of chiaroscuro inside. Over the centuries, many legends, astrological studies and curiosities have arisen around the oculus of the Pantheon. It is said that in ancient times the rain could not enter the building, due to the heat and fumes of the candles that illuminated the interior. This eventuality cannot be proven by reliable sources and therefore remains a hypothesis cloaked in legend. Even today, abundant water enters the Pantheon on rainy days, which is why the floor was designed with 22 holes to allow rain to filter through. Thanks to the presence of the oculus, astronomical phenomena can be observed inside the architectural building, so much so that it has been defined by some as "a solar temple". In fact, on 21 April, the Christmas of Rome, at noon, a ray of sunlight penetrates the oculus inside and hits the access portal. According to a medieval legend, the oculus of the Pantheon was created by the devil fleeing the temple of God. Another legend has it that before the oculus was actually an opening intended to house the large bronze pine cone, currently located in the Vatican. in the homonymous courtyard.
With its internal diameter of 44.30 m, the dome of the Pantheon is still the largest hemispherical dome ever built in unreinforced concrete. It was the work of the reconstruction that in 128 A.D. the building underwent under the government of the emperor Hadrian.