Monday, July 30, 2012

Pantheon ~ Piazza della Rotonda ~ Rome, Italy

It was lunchtime on a hot Roman day and we were looking for a place to enjoy a lunch.  The square in front of the Pantheon has several cafés around the perimeter of it and we chose the one right on the corner so we could get a front row seat to look at this magnificent historical engineering feat. 
The massive columns and the front of the Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon in Rome, Italy
We’d gone inside the Pantheon the night before when it was getting dark so we needed to come back to get the daylight photos and I was so glad we did.  It isn’t a building that gives a flashy ‘wow’ factor but in a very quiet way, displays a protecting shield to an incredible treasure.  The familiar portico and 14 meter columns of the Pantheon exude history. 

The open doors of the Pantheon welcome us inside
Great front doors to the Pantheon in Rome
The Pantheon was built by Hadrian in 120AD and still has the original bronze doors of that day.  These incredible large doors are over 2000 years old!  Other bronze that was originally put inside was stripped away to make canons in the sixteenth century but that pilfering left no damage to the structure. 
We look up thru the opening in the dome of the Pantheon
The oculus of the Pantheon in Rome
Noontime during the summer solstice the sun would shine straight down through the nine meter opening of this oculus and reach the floor.  That would be an incredible sunbeam to see!  If you were to stand beneath and look up during a rainy time, you’d feel the raindrops.  It really is open, although I couldn’t test that so we have to believe.
We see the round room filled with people in the Pantheon
The interior of the Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The size of the interior of the Pantheon is 43 meters in diameter and is a full circle.  The dome was made of concrete and was the largest existing dome for over 1000 years and is still the largest of a non-reinforced dome in the world.  The Pantheon was never destroyed throughout history, which is unusual for most structures from this era, it has most certainly stood the test of time.
Statues are in enclaves in the walls of the Pantheon
Sculptures within the Pantheon in Rome
Once the Pantheon became a Roman Catholic Church in 609, the statues of the Roman gods were replaced with religious art and sculptures.  Many of them were done by the master artists of that day who have since been buried here.  Raphael was one of those and his tomb is displayed inside.
There are several of these statues on display within the Pantheon
Statues over the pulpit in the Pantheon, Rome, Italy
The Pantheon is still used as a church and mass is celebrated there.  There are several chapels and many sat in chairs during our visit although there was no service being held. Special occasions and weddings are also held in the Pantheon, now that would be a very special place for a very special day.
The lights come on in the Piazza della Rotonda and night falls.
Piazza della Rotonda in Rome, Italy
As on all of our days in Rome, we wandered until well after dark and enjoyed the lights of the piazzas and the fountains and the sculptures and the cafés and the people……ok, enough said, you know what I mean.  This was an amazing city!  Belissimo...  Ciao Roma !
To see some of the other sights on our visit to Rome, click here for more.


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