Not only is the Pantheon one of the most well-known landmarks in Italy, but it is also one of the best-preserved Roman structures. The landmark attracts thousands of tourists every year as people want to learn about the history and culture of Italy. Here are some interesting facts about this historic building.
- The first two Pantheons were destroyed in fires. The building that is there now is the third version. The first was built in 31 BC, the second in 80 AD and the third in 110 AD.
- The Pantheon now faces north but the original faced south.
- The opening of the dome measures 8.8 meters in diameter and is called ‘The Oculus’.
- It was originally a pagan temple but has been a church since 609 AD. It is called St. Mary of the Martyrs but people simply refer to it as the Pantheon.
- The dome weighs 4,535 metric tons.
- The Pantheon’s dome was the largest brick dome in the world for over 1,000 years as it measures 43.2 meters. In 1436 AD, it was overtaken by the Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence.
- It is still the largest unreinforced dome in the world.
- Even Michelangelo was impressed with the architecture of this building, describing it as ‘angelic and not human design’.
- The word Pantheon is derived from two Greek words; ‘pan’ means ‘all’ and ‘theos’ means ‘god’.
- In the 1500s, two bell towers were added by Pope Urban VIII and these were designed by Bernini. In 1883, they were removed.
- The walls of the Pantheon are six meters thick. This was necessary to support the weight of the dome.
- There are holes in the floor slabs. This is a form of a drainage system to remove rainwater that falls from the Oculus.
- The artist Rafael and his fiancée Maria Bibbiena are buried alongside each other inside the Pantheon.
- The Pantheon is designed so that a perfect sphere would fit inside to represent heaven.
- Originally, there were stairs within the Pantheon. However, the floor level was later raised to access the portico, eliminating the need for stairs.