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30 Interesting Facts About the Pantheon in Rome

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Date: 2014-10-26 16:34:58


Author: Samuel Heenan

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As one of the most well preserved buildings of Ancient Rome and an architectural masterpiece, lets have a look at 30 fun and interesting facts about the Pantheon in Rome.

1.The current Pantheon is actually the 3rd version after the first 2 burned down in fires.

2.The original Pantheon built in 31 BC and the construction was commissioning Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa

3.The original Pantheon was actually facing south and not North in its current position

4.After a fire in 80 AD the Pantheon was rebuilt by Domitian and THAT one burned down too and then was not rebuilt again until 110 AD by Emperor Hadrian.

5.The Oculus which is the opening of the dome and the source of light for the Pantheon is 8.8 metres in diameter.

6.The Pantheon became a church in the year 609 AD and before was a pagen temple. It is dedicated to St. Mary of the Martyrs but to most people it is simply known as the Pantheon.

7.The rotunda of the Pantheon is a perfect hemisphere which measures 43.2 m in diameter which is exactly the maximum height of the dome.

8.The dome dome which is 4,535 metric tons in weight and isis concentrated on a ring of voussoirs 9.1 meters in diameter.

9.At 43.2 metres the Pantheon was the worlds largest brick dome for over 1000 years between the year 128–1436 AD. It wa overtook by the Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence which was made by the artchitect  Filippo Brunelleschi who had spent many years in Rome studying the contruction of the Pantheon.

10.The inscription on the Patheon reads "M. AGRIPPA.L.F.COSTERTIUM.FECIT”  which means “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”.

11.The great artist Michelangelo who was not easily impressed described the Pantheon as “angelic and not human design.”

12.Boths Kings of Italy are buried in the Pantheon, Umberto I and his wife Queen Margherita along with Vittorio Emmanuele II.

13.However the Pantheon is STILL to this day the worlds largest unreinforced concrete dome in the history of architecture.

14.The name Pantheon is derived from ancient greek as a temple dedicated to all gods as "pan" (all) and "theos" (god).

15.Pope Urban VIII added the two bell towers designed by Bernini in the 1500s but they were removed in 1883 after being labelled "donkey's ears".

16.To support the dome the brick walls of the Pantheon had to be made 6 metres thick which is about 20 feet.

17.The Pantheon has its own drainage system to deal with the rain that falls through the Oculus. If you look closely at the floor you will find some holes in the slabs to drain the water.

18.Maria Bibbiena the long suffering fiancée of Rafael the artist is also buried next to him inside of the Pantheon.

19.Below the orginal inscription you will find a second engravement made by Septimius Severus and his son and co-emperor Caracalla from the restoration in 202 AD. It Reads: "IMP[ERATOR] CAES[AR] L[UCIUS] SEPTIMIUS SEVERUS … ET IMP[ERATOR] M[ARCUS] AURELIUS ANTONINUS… PANTHEUM VETUSTATE CORRUPTUM CUM OMNI CULTU RESTITUERUNT"
"Emperor Lucius Septimius Severus… and Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus… with each refinement they restored the Pantheon, damaged by the passage of years."

20.The design of the Pantheon is so that a  perfect sphere could sit inside symbolising the vault of heaven.

21.In the 1800s Pope Pius VII cleaned up the Piazza facing the Pantheon and left the inscription on the wall as you can see today: "PIVS · VII · P · M · AN · PONTIFICATVS · SVI · XXIII · AREAM · ANTE · PANTHEON · M · AGRIPPAE   IGNOBILIBVS · TABERNIS DEMOLITIONE · PROVIDENTISSIMA AB · INVISA · DEFORMITATE · VINDICAVIT ET · IN · LIBERVM · LOCI · PROSPECTVM · PATERE · IVSSIT"
"Pius VII Supreme Pontiff, in the 23rd Year of His Pontificate the 23rd, freed the area of the
Pantheon of Marcus Agrippa of the ignoble businesses by undertaking a very thoughtful program of demolition to render clear the view of the site."

22.The Pantheon was originally built with  a flight of steps but a later construction raised the level of the ground leading to the portico which eliminated the steps.

23.During the day the light coming through the oculus and moves around the inside of the Pantheon in a reverse sundial effect.

24.The Pantheon has been gradually stripped of its Bronze decoration over the centuries. In 1631 Pope Urban VIII Barberini took the bronze from the inside of the portico to make cannons for Castel Sant’ Angelo giving rise to the saying “quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini” (what the barbarians didn’t do, the barberini did).

 It is thought that over 500,000 people lost their lives and over a million wild animals were killed throughout the duration of the Colosseum hosted people vs. beast games. - See more at:

25.The Pantheon holds tomb of the famous artist Raphael (1483-1520 AD).

26.It took the ancient Roman's 4-5 years to build the walls of the Rotunda and another 4-5 years to build the dome itself.

27.The double doors of the Pantheon are 21 feet high.

28.The Pantheon boasts 16 massive columns for the inner area of the Portico.

29.There are many famous monuments all over the world modelled on the Pantheon in Rome such as; such as the US Capitol Building, the Pantheon in Paris, Santa Maria del fiore in Florence and the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C.

30.The Pantheon is located at Piazza della Rotonda and although the square is rectangular it is names so after the unofficial medieval name of the Pantheon which was Santa Maria Rotonda.

For more information and to book a tour during your stay in the Eternal city: Book a Tour Here


For more interesting Rome and Italy Facts see:

Interesting Facts about Rome

Interesting Facts about the Trevi Fountain

Interesting Facts about the Vatican

Interesting Facts about Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius

Interesting Facts about the Roman Colosseum

Interesting Facts about Capri

Interesting Facts about Florence

Interesting Facts about Naples



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