Almost done with a summer in Rome and the Pantheon is still what sticks out to me. It’s funny how that goes. Maybe it was the best first impression that I got here that keeps it close to my heart. Now I’m getting all sentimental. But really. The Pantheon sticks to the ribs…it’s hard to shake it. It’s almost 2000 years old and it’s still standing strong. You can see some cracks and scars, but for the most part, the Pantheon shows little wear inside. The marble still shines and the ceiling is still holding. The funny thing about the Pantheon is that no one really knows who actually built it. It’s believed to be built by Hadrian around 118-126 AD, but there are others now that are saying they’ve found bricks from Hadrian’s father, Trajan, that are showing at the base. So, it is possible that Trajan is responsible for the plans and Hadrian just saw the plans through. Big mysteries. I guess I should rewind and explain that they know a date because of the bricks that were used to make the Pantheon. Back then…way way back then, the companies that would make the bricks would stamp them as they were still wet with the date, the ruler, and the company making the structure. This is the information that they used to determine when the Pantheon was made. Fun fact that most people don’t know is that the Pantheon that we know today wasn’t the only one. It’s actually the third on on the spot that it stands. The others weren’t the same construction with the massive dome, but they were in the same spot. Each burned down, one in 80 AD and the second in 110 AD. Third time’s a charm I guess. Can you tell that I just wrote a 6 page paper on the Pantheon? I hope Professor Huber is proud.
The Pantheon got its name because it was built first as a Pagan temple. Pantheon meaning all the gods. So it was a temple built for all the gods and was designed to be appropriate as so. It’s structure is supposed to represent the universe inside with its spherical shape and the oculus to the heavens. I would love to lay on the floor right below the opening at night and see the stars. I’m sure it would be spectacular. Unfortunately it’s closed at night. One of the craziest things about the Pantheon is that it’s dome isn’t supported like most are. It’s held up by its shape and the way it was built, being weighted on the bottom with heavier cement and gradually getting lighter as it gets towards the oculus. This distributes the weight in a way that works for the building. Everything stays in place. Everyone’s happy.
Something that we missed while we were here..only by hours…is a ceremony that takes place in the Pantheon where fire fighters secretly climb onto the roof and drop rose petals through the opening. That would be amazing. We didn’t know it was happening, or we would have definitely been there. My favorite time to go still is at night. We just sit below the columns and listen. So many noises, yet it’s such a calm place. I like to watch people walking around and looking at things. When we were there the other night, there was a man playing a cello right in front of the doors. It was so beautiful to listen to. Every little noise echoed in the ceiling of the portico. He didn’t last long though, the police came and made him move, but I took video. Never as good though.