The Romans built some of the greatest architectural structures this world has ever seen. However, the Pantheon in Rome effortlessly manages to stand out among these structures. The Pantheon is an architectural marvel, a standing-still history, and an icon of the Roman identity.
There is confusing data about the true age of the temple. While between 25 BCE and 14 CE, there was already a temple in the area, it burnt down and in the following century, The Pantheon was built in the same spot. However, Emperor Hadrian did not have the exact date inscribed and kept the dates of the former temple.
All in all, it is safe to say that the Pantheon is at least 1900 years old. It was built as a place to pray to all the Roman deities, and some believed that the name came from its appearance which resembled that of a heavenly landscape. As was tradition, the temple is full of statues and sculptures of the Roman deities.
A miracle in terms of ancient architecture, the Pantheon’s dome is the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome
The most unique aspect of the Pantheon is its circular dome and the giant hole in the middle of it. The shape of the dome was a unique element for Roman architecture at that time as well. The hole is the only natural source of light in the temple and it represents the divine light that shines on Rome and the Pantheon.
The Pantheon also shows traces of Greek architecture because Emperor Hadrian was an avid fan of the Greeks and their customs. The columns of the temple exterior are 12 meters tall and 1.5 meters in diameter.
The reason why the temple has stood against the test of time is because the Romans never abandoned it. After the empire officially converted to Christianity in 323, the temple became a Catholic church in 609 as well. The official name of the temple today is actually the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs.
The repurposing of the temple as a Christian church saved it from turning into ruins. Due to the Christian influence, many Roman temples from ancient times were destroyed as the pope considered them places of heresy. While the pope also wanted the Pantheon to be destroyed as well, he could not, fortunately for the world. However, the statues of the Roman deities were thrown away and replaced by figures from Christianity.
Today, the Pantheon is considered one of the finest Roman structures around the world and one of the most popular destinations in Rome. Nearly 4 million people visit the Pantheon every year and experience its glory and architectural excellence.