The original Pantheon, meaning “Every god” was built in 27-25 BC by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the Gods of Ancient Rome but nowadays a pantheon can refer to any monument that honours the dead. It was then burnt down in 80 AD and then rebuilt in 125 AD by the emperor Hadrian.
The Pantheon in Rome, Italy is one of the most visited tourist spots in the the whole of Italy and is the third most visited monument in Rome after Coliseum and Vatican Museums. Because the entrance to the Pantheon is free, it is hard to know exactly how many people visit it every year but it is estimated that it attracts around 1.5 million people annually. This is one of the most complete and well preserved ruins in Rome, standing tall as the largest concrete structure worldwide until the early 20th Century.
The Pantheon was converted from an ancient temple to Roman Catholic Church just after the 7th century. Instead of being a place to worship the Gods, it became dedicated to the Virgin Mary and continues to do so until this day, in 609AD, an altar was added the the structure, opposite the entrance, and on the altar, was an icon of the Virgin Mary. It’s actually still possible to get married there today.
Many times in the Pantheon’s history, the building has been looted by thieves who have stripped the place down and taken everything including the golden tiles that lay on the roof. Each time the items have been replaced and the looting has become almost non-existent in recent years.
The Pantheon structure has been studied by many, including Michaelangelo himself, who came to study the dome of the Pantheon before he started working on the dome of St Peters. The Pantheon’s dome is 43m in height and 43m wide, making it a perfect sphere, sat on top of a cylinder.
If you plan to visit the Pantheon during your next visit to Rome, make sure you know how to get there. There is no metro stop near the pantheon itself. You can get the metro to Piazza Barberini stop it is about a 15 minute walk.