With a name that itself defines the collection of deities making up a religious order, Rome, Italy’s Pantheon is an architectural wonder of the world that reminds us of the empire’s power, cultural influence, and vast wealth.
Literally denoting a home for all of the gods, the Pantheon was one of the most unique structures in all of Italia as it wasn’t dedicated to a single deity or order.
But, beyond that, there are many other facts about the Pantheon that you didn’t know.
We’re going to share those with you today. Here are ten interesting factors about Rome’s Pantheon:
1. Did you know that the word “Pantheon” itself comes from the Greek “to honour all gods?” Fitting, too, as the Pantheon itself was a repository for all cults within the empire and, as such, acted as a central nexus for the religious life of many diverse sects.
2. The Pantheon’s exact origins are unknown though it is believed that Agrippa built it in 27 BC and that this original structure was later destroyed in the great fire of Rome in 80 AD. Prior to this, the Pantheon was dedicated to the ascension of Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome, into heaven though this cannot be confirmed.
The current Pantheon was constructed in 120 AD by the emperor Hadrian working in collaboration with the architect Apollodorus of Damascus, a man he would later order executed over arguments about the building’s design.
3. The structure is, by far, the best-preserved ancient Roman monument we have today. While there are various explanations for this, including its revolutionary design and composition, the building’s conversion into a church in 609 AD might have a lot to do with its general preservation and longevity.
4. The Pantheon has the largest unsupported dome in the world and held the title of largest dome in the world for 1300 years. The diameter of the dome is 43.30 meters or 142ft and the distance from the floor of the structure to the top of the dome equals that number, making the building perfectly proportional.
5. The 16 columns in the portico are 11.8m (39ft) tall, 1.5m diameter (5ft) and weigh 60 tons each.
6. The only window inside of the Pantheon is the oculus itself.
7. The Pantheon was the first pagan temple converted into a Christian religious building. It bears that name even to this day as the church of St. Mary of the Martyrs.
8. Giacomo Della Porta designed the fountain of the Pantheon in 1575 with modifications commissioned by Pope Clement XI in 1711 including placing the Egyptian plinth at the center surrounded by dolphins.
9. The Pantheon contains the tombs of several Italian kings, poets, and even Raphael himself.
10. On April 21, the traditional date celebrated as the founding of the Roman Empire, the Pantheon’s doorway becomes a spectacle when the midday sun hits the metal grill above the door, causing a cascade of light.