The Pantheon in Rome

In Rome there are a number of buildings that you must see. The Pantheon is certainly one of them. This temple is more than 19 centuries old and will hopefully remain there for a long time.

The history

The Pantheon is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. Pantheon (consisting of Pan = Everything and Theos = God) also literally means all gods. The Pantheon was built between 118 and 125.
However, the original Pantheon was built in 27 BC, but was destroyed in the year 80, during the Great Fire of Rome. Fortunately, the elector Hadrian had that beautiful building rebuilt. The reason that the Pantheon still exists, while many other Roman temples have been destroyed because they were considered pagan, is that the Pantheon was declared a church by Pope Boniface the 4th. This Pope had received the Pantheon as a gift from the Emperor Phocas in the year 609. The facades still state that the Pantheon was built by the original builder, Maruc Agrippa. This is seen as a sign of modesty on the part of Emperor Hadrian. The Pantheon was later also used to bury important Italian figures.


Originally the Pantheon was decorated with bronze, but this was removed by Pope Barberini. After this, the bronze was melted down and reused in St. Peter’s. Because this caused a lot of fuss at the time, there is still a saying about it. It reads: What the Barbarians did not demolish, the Barberini did demolish.


The Pantheon is characterized by its opening in the center of the dome. This opening is also called the oculus. This opening is not filled with glass or the like, so it can rain inside in bad weather. The floor is built in such a way that rainwater is drained, but it can become slippery. Most people who visit the Pantheon will not realize the following, but there are quite a few strange things in the design. For example, the distance from the ground to the oculus is 43 meters. The diameter of the floor is also 43 meters. The dome was built precisely in such a way that it would fit a huge sphere with a diameter of 43 meters.

The great dome

Source: Poepoe, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA-3.0) The dome is made of concrete and has long been the largest concrete dome on Earth. This changed when an even larger dome was placed on Santa Maria Del Fiore. This dome had a diameter that was two meters larger than that of the Pantheon. The dome of St. Peter’s in Rome is slightly smaller than the dome of the Pantheon.
The dome has all kinds of inlets, so the weight of the dome is not that great, but the dome is still sturdy. The oculus has another function besides an opening to the Gods. The oculus ensures that the dome is flexible in the event of an earthquake, for example. This is also one of the reasons why this building is still standing.


It is a very special experience to walk into the Pantheon. You enter a large dome, which is larger than you expected from the outside. On a beautiful sunny day it is also beautiful to see the circle that the sun slowly moves on the dome behind. The Pantheon is one of the most unusual buildings in Rome and is definitely worth a visit.