The Pantheon in Rome is one of the most fascinating examples of ancient architecture. It undeniably belongs on any Rome bucketlist. This masterpiece was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian and completed in 126 AD. The Pantheon features a stunning concrete dome that is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Here are some more fascinating facts about this architectural masterpiece!

photo of people walking in front of pantheon in Italy. Facts about the pantheon in rome.
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History and Facts About the Pantheon in Rome

The Pantheon is one of the most famous buildings in Rome and indeed in the world. It is a large, round temple with a massive dome, and was built over 1800 years ago. Here are ten fascinating facts about this architectural masterpiece:

The Religious Origins of the Pantheon in Rome

The very name “Pantheon” hints at its original purpose. Derived from the Greek words “pan,” meaning “all,” and “theon,” meaning “gods,” the Pantheon in Rome was conceived as a temple to honor the entire pantheon of Ancient Roman deities. However, its journey through time would see it transform into something quite different.

The Temple’s Spiritual Evolution

In the seventh century, the Pantheon underwent a transformation that mirrored the evolving spiritual landscape of Rome. It was converted into a Christian church, now known as the Basilica di Santa Maria and the Martyrs. This transition underscores the Pantheon’s adaptability and enduring significance.

The Portico and It’s Mighty Granite Columns

Supporting the Pantheon’s grand portico are sixteen colossal granite columns. Each column rises to an astonishing height of sixty feet (18 meters) and weighs a staggering six hundred tons. The grand entrance serves as a fitting prelude to the architectural splendor that awaits inside.

A Dome of Unmatched Grandeur

The crowning jewel of Rome’s Pantheon is its massive concrete dome. A true marvel of engineering, the dome boasts a diameter equal to its height, soaring to a breathtaking 142 feet (43 meters). What truly sets it apart is the fact that it stands as the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. This feat of construction, achieved nearly two millennia ago, continues to astonish architects and engineers to this day.

architectural design of the famous dome of the pantheon in Rome. Learn interesting facts in this article.
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The Eye of the Pantheon

At the heart of the Pantheon’s dome lies an exquisite feature known as the “oculus.” This circular opening, measuring 30 feet (nine meters) in width, serves both as a source of natural light and a conduit for ventilation. Originally exposed to the open sky, it now boasts a protective glass covering, preserving its beauty for generations to come.

The Pantheon is Rome is a Monument to Preservation

One of the Pantheon’s most remarkable qualities is its incredible state of preservation. In a city steeped in history and layered with the remnants of ancient civilizations, the Pantheon stands as a testament to the enduring quality of Roman engineering and craftsmanship. It is often hailed as the best-preserved ancient building in the city, with its dome, columns, and inner chambers seemingly untouched by the passage of time.

A Final Resting Place for Greatness

The Pantheon holds more than just architectural wonders; it is a repository of historical significance. Within its hallowed walls lie the tombs of some of Italy’s most illustrious figures, including the renowned painter Raphael and the Italian king Vittorio Emanuele II.

Myth and Legend: The Romulus Connection

The Pantheon’s location carries a mythic legacy as well. According to Roman legend, it sits upon the site where Romulus, the founder of Rome, met his divine end. An eagle is said to have seized him upon his death and carried him into the heavens, forever joining the pantheon of gods. This connection to the city’s mythic origins adds an extra layer of intrigue to the temple’s history.

A Global Influence

The influence of the Pantheon extends far beyond its Roman origins. It has inspired countless architects and builders throughout history, shaping the design of iconic structures such as the U.S. Capitol Building, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, and even St Peters Basilica in the Vatican. Its enduring legacy continues to resonate in modern architecture worldwide.

The Pantheon in Rome and It’s Role in the Church

While the Pantheon is undeniably a relic of the past, it is also very much a living monument. The building functions as a Christian church known as the Basilica di Santa Maria and the Martyrs, welcoming worshipers each Saturday and Sunday. Its doors are open to all, allowing visitors to partake in its rich history and spiritual significance.

Are You Visiting Rome?

If you are planning to visit Rome, here are a few personal recommendations.

Location, Location, Location.

Pick a hotel in a location that provides access to as many activities on your Rome bucket list as possible. Consider Albergo Del Senato. This hotel sits in the same square as the Pantheon and is an excellent base to visit other top sites like the Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, and more. From here, the only places we needed a taxi to visit were Vatican City and Galleria Borghese. Everywhere else, we walked.

Check rates for this hotel or explore other options on Expedia or Booking.

Taxis in Rome

When visiting Rome, using taxis can be a convenient and reliable way to get around the city. To use a taxi in Rome, start by finding a designated taxi stand or calling for one. If necessary, you can request your hotel call an official taxi. Look for the white vehicles with a “TAXI” sign on the roof. Make sure the taxi is equipped with a working meter. It’s important to note that Uber and other ride-sharing services are not widely available in Rome. Once inside the taxi, you can provide the driver with your destination, and they will start the meter.

It’s always a good idea to have the address written down or saved on your phone in case of language barriers. While most taxi drivers in Rome are honest, it’s recommended to keep an eye on the meter and ensure it is running properly. Payment can be made in cash or by credit card, but it’s always a good idea to have some cash on hand. Tipping isn’t necessary but, if you’re satisfied with the service and want to show your appreciation, rounding up to the next Euro is sufficient.

View of the pantheon in Rome from our hotel room at Albergo Del Senato
View of the Pantheon in Rome from our hotel room at Albergo Del Senato.

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Jenna Walker

Jenna Walker is a travel writer from Oklahoma who lives with her husband, two children, and three rescue pets. While out and about in the world, she loves spending time outdoors, exploring local culture, and trying new foods. Jenna knows that, often, we overlook our own backyard. You can also find her stories and guides on the website, The Oklahoma Experience.