The Pantheon by night, Rome

The Pantheon by night, Rome

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Although the Pantheon has stood from antiquity, the area in front of it had over the centuries become choked with a maze of sheds and small shops that had grown up around its columns. These medieval accretions were cleared by order of Pope Eugenius IV (1431–39) and the piazza was laid out and paved. [1] It took its name from the Pantheon, which had been converted in the 7th century AD into a Christian church dedicated to "St. Mary and the Martyrs" but informally known as Santa Maria Rotonda. [2] The piazza is roughly rectangular, approximately 60 meters north to south and 40 meters east to west, with a fountain and obelisk in the center and the Pantheon on the south side.

During the 19th century, the piazza was especially noted for its market of bird-sellers, who brought their cages with live parrots, nightingales, owls, and other birds into the piazza. [3] A traveler in 1819 remarked that during Twelfth Night celebrations in Rome the Piazza della Rotonda was "in particular distinguished by the gay appearance of the fruit and cake-stalls, dressed with flowers and lighted with paper lanterns." [4]

Charlotte Anne Eaton, an English traveller who visited in 1820, was much less impressed with the piazza and deplored how a visitor would find himself "surrounded by all that is most revolting to the senses, distracted by incessant uproar, pestered with a crowd of clamorous beggars, and stuck fast in the congregated filth of every description that covers the slippery pavement . Nothing resembling such a hole as this could exist in England nor is it possible that an English imagination can conceive a combination of such disgusting dirt, such filthy odours and foul puddles, such as that which fills the vegetable market in the Piazza della Rotonda at Rome." [5] An 1879 Baedeker guidebook noted that the "busy scene" of the piazza "affords the stranger opportunities of observing the characteristics of the peasantry." [6]

Its present appearance was threatened with destruction under the French administration of 1809-1814, when Napoleon signed decrees calling for the demolition of the buildings around the Pantheon. The short life of French rule in Rome meant that the scheme never went ahead but it re-emerged in an altered form in the urban plan of 1873. This scheme proposed that the piazza should be enlarged and made into the focus of new boulevards converging on it from the direction of Piazza Borghese and Largo Magnanapoli. In the event, this did not happen, though several structures adjoining the north end of the square and the Pantheon were demolished under Popes Pius VII and Pius IX. [7]

In the center of the piazza is a fountain, the Fontana del Pantheon, surmounted by an Egyptian obelisk. The fountain was constructed by Giacomo Della Porta under Pope Gregory XIII in 1575, and the obelisk was added to it in 1711 under Pope Clement XI.

The Aqua Virgo, one of the eleven aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with drinking water, served the area of the Campus Martius, but had fallen into disrepair and disuse by the late Middle Ages. It was reconstructed under Pope Nicholas V and consecrated in 1453 as the Acqua Vergine. In 1570, Giacomo della Porta was commissioned under Pope Gregory XIII to oversee a major project to extend the distribution of water from the Vergine to eighteen new public fountains. [8]

Construction of the fountain in the Piazza della Rotonda was authorized on September 25, together with a fountain for Piazza Colonna, and two more for Piazza Navona the fountain for the Rotonda, completed in 1575, was of a chalice-type design, around 3.5 to 4 meters in height, and fed with the Vergine water through a terracotta conduit. [9] Della Porta designed the fountain, and Leonardo Sormani executed it. [10] Due to the slope of the piazza, the fountain is approached by five steps on the south side, and only two on the north. [11]

Under the pontificate of Alexander VII Chigi, projects were set afoot to systematize the piazza and its setting, grading and enlarging it and widening the incident streets, in which Gian Lorenzo Bernini participated. [12] An engraving by Giovanni Battista Falda [13] records the work that had been completed at the time of Alexander's death in 1667.

In 1711, the fountain was given its current appearance when Pope Clement XI had the Late Baroque sculptor Filippo Barigioni top it with a 20-foot red marble Egyptian obelisk. The obelisk, originally constructed by Pharaoh Ramses II for the Temple of Ra in Heliopolis, had been brought to Rome in ancient times where it was reused in the Iseum Campense, a shrine to the Egyptian god Isis that stood to the southeast of the Pantheon. [7] It was rediscovered in 1374 underneath the apse of the nearby Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva. [14] In the mid-15th century, the obelisk had been erected in the small Piazza di San Macuto some 200 meters east of the Pantheon, where it remained until its 1711 move to the Piazza della Rotonda. [15] It is still called the Obelisco Macutèo after its previous location. [7]

The Colosseum

Built in the 1st century A.D., the ancient amphitheater once seated up to 45,000 spectators who came to watch gladiators fight for their lives and exotic animals devour their prey. Now the Colosseum is one of the most iconic symbols of the ancient Roman empire and one of the city's primary historical landmarks. Visitors can take three-hour guided walking tours of the ruins or explore the four-story travertine monument on their own. The floor of the Colosseum has been eaten away by time, and the complex maze that lies underneath it is viewable from a walkway that has built over it.


The most surprising aspect of the architecture in the Pantheon is its measurements: the circular building has exactly the same diameter as its height: 43.5 metres. The dome, which has the same diameter, is bigger than that of St. Peter's Basilica. At its top, a 9 meter diameter opening allows natural light to illuminate the entire building.

The rectangular facade that hides the enormous dome is comprised of 16 granite columns which are each 14 meters in height, on which the following inscription can be seen: "M.AGRIPPA.L.F.COS.TERTIVM.FECIT", which means "Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, built this temple when he was a Consul."

The Pantheon by night, Rome - History

The Pantheon is one of the great spiritual buildings of the world. It was built as a Roman temple and later consecrated as a Catholic Church. Its monumental porch originally faced a rectangular colonnaded temple courtyard and now enfronts the smaller Piazza della Rotonda. Through great bronze doors, one enters one great circular room. The interior volume is a cylinder above which rises the hemispherical dome. Opposite the door is a recessed semicircular apse, and on each side are three additional recesses, alternately rectangular and semicircular, separated from the space under the dome by paired monolithic columns. The only natural light enters through an unglazed oculus at the center of the dome and through the bronze doors to the portico. As the sun moves, striking patterns of light illuminate the walls and floors of porphyry, granite and yellow marbles.

The portico consists of three rows of eight columns, 14 m (46 feet) high of Egyptian granite with Corinthian capitals. They support an entablature facing the square, which bears the famous inscription in Latin, attributing the construction to Agrippa, although the extant temple was rebuilt later by Hadrian.

The dome has a span of 43.2 m (142 feet), the largest dome until Brunelleschi's dome at the Florence Cathedral of 1420-36.

The interior volume is a cylinder above which springs the half sphere of the dome. A whole sphere can be inscribed in the interior volume, with the diameter at the floor of the cylinder of 43.3 m (143 feet) equaling the interior height.

Five rows of twenty-eight square coffers of diminishing size radiate from the central unglazed oculus with a diameter of 8.7 m (29 feet) at the top of the dome.

The dome is constructed of stepped rings of solid concrete with less and less density as lighter aggregate (pumice) is used, diminishing in thickness to about 1.2 m (4 feet) at the edge of the oculus. The dome rests on a cylinder of masonry walls 6 m (20 feet). Hidden voids and the interior recesses hollow out this construction, so that it works less as a solid mass and more like three continuous arcades which correspond to the three tiers of relieving arches visible on the building exterior. Originally, these exterior walls were faced with colored marbles.

Also known as Chiesa di Santa Maria ad Martyres

The Pantheon is open from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on holidays that fall on weekdays except for Christmas Day, New Year's Day and May 1, when it is closed. Admission is free.

"Pantheon Inside", by Steven W. Semes, ArchitectureWeek No. 254, 2005.0831, pC1.1.

Werner Blaser and Monica Stucky. Drawings of Great Buildings . Boston: Birkhauser Verlag, 1983. ISBN 3-7643-1522-9. LC 83-15831. NA2706.U6D72 1983. plan and section drawings, p34.

Francis D. K. Ching. Architecture: Form, Space, and Order . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1979. ISBN 0-442-21535-5. LC 79-18045. NA2760.C46. large split section/elevation drawing, p109. figure-ground map of Rome at Pantheon, p111. plan and section, p212. A nice graphic introduction to architectural ideas. Updated 1996 edition available at

Roger H. Clark and Michael Pause. Precedents In Architecture . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1985. ISBN 0-442-21668-8. LC 84-3543. NA2750.C55 1984. plan and section diagram, p154. geometry diagram, p183. Updated edition available at

James Stevens Curl. Classical Architecture: an introduction to its vocabulary and essentials, with a select glossary of terms . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1992. ISBN 0-442-30896-5. NA260.C87. interior photo of circular space, f4.35, p87. photo of the prostyle octstyle portico of the Pantheon, f2.55, p46.

Johnson Architectural Images. Copyrighted slides in the Artifice Collection.

Spiro Kostof. A History of Architecture . New York: Oxford University Press, 1985. ISBN 0-19-503472-4. LC 84-25375. NA200.K65 1985. photo showing light shining into interior through oculus, f1.2 , p4. — Available at

William L. MacDonald. The Architecture of the Roman Empire I . New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1982. ISBN 0-300-02818-0. LC 81-16513. NA310.M2. analytical drawing showing arcuated structure in walls, plate 106. plan drawing showing floor pattern, plate 98. no image credit.

William L. MacDonald. The Pantheon : Design, Meaning, and Progeny . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976. ISBN 0-674-65346-7. LC 75-27900. — Available at

Andrea Palladio. The Four Books on Architecture . New York: Dover Publications, 1965. LC 64-18862. NA2515.P253. detail drawings of portico ornaments, plate 56, book four. section drawing, plate 57, book four. interior elevation drawing, plate 58, book four. partial elevation drawing, plate 53, book four. plan drawing, plate 51, book four.

Russell Sturgis. The Architecture Sourcebook . New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1984. ISBN 0-442-20831-9. LC 84-7275. NA2840.S78. drawing of interior restoration, p255.

Doreen Yarwood. The Architecture of Europe . New York: Hastings House, 1974. ISBN 0-8038-0364-8. LC 73-11105. NA950.Y37. detail perspective drawing of capital, f100, p43. no image credit. bottom drawing second from right on the page.

Trevi Fountain, in the Trevi district of Rome, displays an elaborate Baroque design featuring a massive statue of Neptune made of white marble, clamoring through the sea on a chariot led by seahorses. The myth surrounding the 1732 fountain states that visitors must toss a coin into the fountain to ensure a return visit to the Eternal City.

Perched along the banks of the Tiber, Castel Sant'Angelo was originally constructed as a mausoleum for Hadrian. Erected in the 2nd century, the massive circular structure wound up serving as a fortress, citadel, dungeon and papal residence throughout history and presently serves as a museum.

5. Trevi Fountain

Trevi Fountain

One of the city's most popular tourist attractions, this 17th-century masterpiece has been immortalized in films until it is almost a required visit. Throwing a coin (not three) into the Trevi Fountain (Fontana di Trevi) is a tradition that is supposed to assure your return to Rome.

Rome's largest fountain, Fontana di Trevi is supplied by an aqueduct originally constructed by Agrippa, the great art patron of the first century BC, to bring water to his baths. The fountain was created for Pope Clement XII between 1732 and 1751 by Nicolò Salvi, and built against the rear wall of the palace of the Dukes of Poli.

It depicts the sea god Oceanus (Neptune), with horses, tritons, and shells. The water swirls around the figures and the artificial rocks, and collects in a large basin, always filled with coins.

The Pantheon by night, Rome - History

This is a typical itinerary for this product

Stop At: Spanish Steps, Piazza di Spagna, 00187 Rome Italy

The steps are a wide irregular gathering place consisted of 138 steps placed in a mix of curves, straight flights, vistas and terraces.

Stop At: Trevi Fountain, Piazza di Trevi, 00187 Rome Italy

Trevi Fountain is the most beautiful and most spectacular fountain in Rome. Millions of people visit it every year to make a wish.

Stop At: Pantheon, Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Rome Italy

The Pantheon claims to be the best preserved building from ancient Rome.

Stop At: Piazza Venezia, 00187 Rome Italy

We will walk through Via Dei Fori Imperiali and then will take some photos in front of the "Altare della Patria" at Venezia Square.

Stop At: Colosseum, Piazza del Colosseo, 00184 Rome Italy

The heart of the Ancient Rome and most famous and beautiful monuments.

Terms & conditions

For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours in advance of the start date of the experience.

The Basilica of San Clemente

St. Clement’s Basilica is located just a few blocks away from the Colosseum and named after St. Clement, Catholicism’s third pope. It’s real draw, however, is archeological. The 12 th -century Basilica is built on top of a 4 th century church, which in turn was built on top of a 1 st century pagan temple – all three of which you can visit today. It’s history directly shows that Rome was built layer after layer: the difference between the 1 st century ground level and today’s ground level is nearly 60 feet! Check out the church’s fabulous frescoes and mosaics on the top floor, such as the glittering 12th-century mosaic in the apse showing Jesus on a cross that turns into a living tree. Then head below to tour the mithraeum, a shrine dedicated to the god Mithras, whose cult came from Persia to Rome in the 2nd and 3rd centuries before it was stamped out by Roman christians. Today it’s one of Rome’s greatest hidden underground sites. If you’d like an expert guided tour of the church, along with some incredible crypts and catacombs, check out our Underground Tour of Rome.

Mithraeum, the Basilica of San Clemente

St John in the Lateran

Attraction: Religious Historic Building

St John in the Lateran is the official seat of the Pope and is home to the Scala Sancta, a site of pilgrimage throughout the year. The church is also one of the oldest churches in Western Europe, dating back to 324 AD, and has been decorated in a Cosmatesque style with a 14th century Gothic Baldacchino. Don’t miss the stunning cloister, deemed one of the most beautiful in Rome, embellished with delicate mosaics and friezes.

Address: Piazza San Giovanni in Laterano, 00184 Rome
Metro: San Giovanni (Metro line A
Visit Duration: 1 hour

Watch the video: The Pantheon