Roman Pantheon History: Journey From Roman Temple To Christian Church
The Pantheon was originally built in 27 BC by the Roman Emperor Augustus as a temple for all the gods. Over time, it underwent several renovations and expansions, culminating in 125 AD when it was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian to its current form. Throughout history, people have been captivated by its architecture, mysterious past, and secrets.
Roman Pantheon History Explained
Construction and Destruction
27 BC - 80 AD
The Pantheon's construction began in 27 BC under the direction of Marcus Agrippa, a prominent Roman statesman. The original structure featured a rectangular temple with a portico and a traditional gabled roof. However, in 80 AD, disaster struck as a massive fire ravaged the Pantheon, reducing it to ruins. The cause of the fire remains uncertain, but it led to the need for a complete reconstruction of the Pantheon in the years that followed.
Reconstruction under Emperor Hadrian
Emperor Hadrian took on the ambitious task of rebuilding the Pantheon following the devastating fire. Between 118 and 125 AD, under the skilled craftsmanship of Roman architects and engineers, the Pantheon emerged as a remarkable architectural marvel. Hadrian's design included a massive dome with a diameter of 43.3 meters (142 feet), making it one of the largest domes in the world at the time. The use of concrete and ingenious engineering techniques allowed for the creation of this iconic structure that stands today.
Conversion to a Christian Church
In the early 7th century, during the reign of Pope Boniface IV, the Pantheon was transformed into a Christian church. Boniface IV consecrated the building as the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs, repurposing it for Christian worship. This conversion was significant as it marked the transition from ancient Roman religious practices to the dominance of Christianity within the Roman Empire. The adaptation of the Pantheon into a church preserved the structure from potential destruction and ensured its continued use throughout the centuries.
Papal Interference and Damage
During the 17th century, Pope Urban VIII ordered the removal of bronze from the Pantheon's portico. This decision was made to provide material for the production of cannons for the defense of Castel Sant'Angelo. The removal of the bronze caused irreparable damage to the structure, resulting in the loss of some of the original architectural features, such as the bronze roof tiles. This act of papal interference and the subsequent damage significantly altered the appearance of the Pantheon.
Restoration and Preservation
In 1747, the Pantheon faced another calamity when lightning struck its dome. The impact caused severe damage to the interior, including the collapse of a large section of the ceiling. Subsequent restoration efforts were carried out to repair the damage and preserve the historical significance of the Pantheon. These restoration projects aimed to maintain the structural integrity of the building while also ensuring the preservation of its iconic architectural elements, such as the dome, portico, and interior artwork.
Unification and Recognition
With the unification of Italy in 1870, the Pantheon became a symbol of national pride and unity. The building's incorporation into the Kingdom of Italy highlighted its significance as an architectural masterpiece of the Roman Empire. The Pantheon's status as a national treasure reinforced the idea of Italy as a unified nation, embracing its rich cultural heritage and history.
The Historic Tombs of the Rome Pantheon
- Raphael (1483-1520), an Italian painter and architect
- Vittorio Emanuele II (1820-1878), first king of Italy
- Umberto I (1844-1900), second king of Italy
- Margherita of Savoy (1851-1926), queen of Italy
- Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1537), Italian architect
- Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), Italian composer
- Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), Italian painter
Rome Pantheon Tickets
Frequently Asked Questions On Roman Pantheon History
The Rome Pantheon houses several notable tombs and monuments, including the tomb of Raphael, the renowned Italian Renaissance painter. Other notable individuals buried or memorialized there include King Victor Emmanuel II of Italy and his successor, Umberto I.
The Rome Pantheon was built by the Roman architect Apollodorus of Damascus, who was commissioned by Emperor Hadrian to design and build the temple.
The Rome Pantheon was built between 118 and 125 AD, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
The Rome Pantheon was originally built as a temple to all the gods of ancient Rome. It was meant to be a place of worship and prayer for the people of Rome.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, the Rome Pantheon was converted into a Christian church in the 7th century. It has been used as a church ever since, which is one reason why it has been so well-preserved over the centuries.
During the Renaissance, the Rome Pantheon became a popular subject for artists and architects. It was studied and imitated by many Renaissance architects, and its design influenced many later buildings. The Renaissance also saw the addition of several important artworks to the Pantheon, including the tomb of the artist Raphael.
Yes, the Rome Pantheon has been renovated and restored several times over the centuries. In the 7th century, when it was converted into a church, the original pagan statues were removed and replaced with Christian artwork. In the 17th century, the facade of the Pantheon was restored and given a new coat of paint. More recently, in the 21st century, the Pantheon underwent a major restoration project to repair damage caused by water infiltration and aging.
The most notable feature of the Rome Pantheon is its large dome, which is made of concrete and is the largest unsupported dome in the world. The dome has a circular opening at the top, called an oculus, which lets in light and rain. The interior of the Pantheon is also notable for its elaborate marble floors, columns, and statues.
The Rome Pantheon was built primarily out of concrete, which was a new building material at the time. The dome of the Pantheon is made of concrete that was poured in layers, each layer getting progressively lighter as it went higher. The exterior of the Pantheon is faced with marble, and the interior features marble floors, columns, and statues.
Yes, the Rome Pantheon is open to visitors. It is free to enter and is open every day except for certain holidays. Visitors are asked to be respectful and quiet while inside the church, as it is still an active place of worship.
Yes, the Rome Pantheon is still an active church. Masses are held there regularly, and visitors are welcome to attend. Despite its status as a tourist attraction, the Pantheon remains an important religious site for the people of Rome.