Christian church, the Pantheon is the best preserved of all ancient Roman buildings. Pantheon is characterized by thick walls and large marble columns.
Pantheon name comes from the word “Everything Divine”. Originally it was the temple of roman gods. The present building, which was the result of lot of restructuring, was built between 25 to 27 BC. Pantheon is characterized by thick walls and large marble columns. The most distinguishable feature of the building is more than 43 meter high dome. This dome had been largest dome until 1436 when Florence Cathedral was built. The top of the dome has the large opening, which was the only source of light. There are three rows of eight columns with first row
having eight columns while the other two having four each. A huge bronze door is the entrance to the building.
This was originally a temple for gods which was converted to a church in 609.The Pantheon now contains the tombs of the famous artist Raphael and of several Italian kings. Its religious interior design contrast with the temple’s structural design, but the marble floor is still the ancient Roman original.
A T shaped structure occupied the same site as that of current Pantheon and was built in 27-25 BC by Emperor Marcus Agrippa, son-in-law of Augustus. The temple was in the name of the gods Mars and Venus. This was burned down in 80 AD but was rebuilt by Emperor Domitian. In 110 AD the building was struck by lightening and burned down again. In 118 AD Emperor Hadrian ordered for the Pantheon to be rebuilt again but this time in a totally different, circular design. It was completed seven years later, in 125 AD. This latest version of the Pantheon would stand the test of time much better: it is still standing almost intact today.
The most important problem the Romans faced during the construction of the Pantheon was the massive weight of the large dome. In order to support it without proper reinforcement as is common today, the thickness of the walls was gradually decreased as the height increased. The Romans also used a different type of concrete for the dome than for the walls. At the base very thick (6m, 20ft) walls were constructed. At the top of the dome, a lighter type of concrete was used and near the oculus it is only 7.5 ft or 2.3 m thick. The use of coffers in the ceiling and the opening at the top also helped reduce the weight of the dome.
The porch’s 16 huge columns weighing 60 tons were built in Egypt. Barges and vessels were used to transport them.
Piazza Dellarotonda is a rectangular square with a 18th century fountain crowned at its centre with an obelisk. The constantly crowded square is situated in the historic center of Rome, not far from the Piazza Navone, one of Rome’s most beautiful squares. Michelangelo was highly impressed by this church even when it was 1350 years old and this church stands intact till today even after 500 years after when he saw it.
Massive tombs like that of the artist Raphael, Vittorio Emanuele II, who was the first king of Italy and his successor Umberto I were set into the walls of Pantheon. A lovely fountain topped by an ancient Egyptian obelisk is set outside the Piazza. The obelisk and its base were erected by Pope Clement XI.
Piazza Navona is on the west end of the Pantheon. Bernini’s most spectacular fountain, la Fontana deifiumj, which was built in 1651 is the most visited and photographed item in this square. There are also another two fountains and the church St. Agnese in Agone.