The Pantheon, Take A Tour of Rome

Last Updated on September 2, 2022 by Left Lane

The Roman Pantheon (Photo Center) from the Piazza della Rotonda. Along with the Obelisk and Fountain of the Pantheon, known locally as Fontana del Pantheon (Photo Right)

The exact date the Pantheon was built in Rome, has long been lost to history. This is largely due to the fact that it was built upon the site of an even older temple built in 25 B.C. From the time of Caesar Augustus (Lifespan 63 B.C – 14 A.D), the First Roman Emperor.

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Fun Fact: Caesar Augustus the first Emperor of Rome, and Great Nephew of Julius Caesar. Named the current month of August after himself.

The Ancient Roman calendar used over 2000 years ago, originally had only 10 months. The current month of August was known as Sextilis, due to it being the 6th month of the year on the Ancient Roman calendar.

It originally only had, 29 days. Until Julis Caesar (who by the way, we get the month of July from) added 2 days to the month of Sextilis around 46 B.C. Giving it the current 31 days we now have.

Caesar Augustus renamed the month of Sextilis after himself. In honor of his conquest of Egypt, which happened in the original month of Sextilis now known as August. Which ironically also ended up being the month he died in at the age of 75 on August 19th, 14 A.D.

Now back to the Pantheon, which was built on the site of the older temple of Agrippa which burned down. Was most likely finished sometime around 125 A.D.

What Is A Pantheon?

A look up at the inside of the Rotunda of the Pantheon, at the Architectural Wonder of the Concrete Dome. The opening in the center is called an Oculus. Which was used during ancient times to light the building during the day.

This Oculus is also open to allow for air circulation. There are even drains on the floor for when it rains, to drain the water away. The Oculus which appears small in photos, is actually 27’ feet in diameter. At 142’ Feet in diameter, the Concrete Dome of the Pantheon is the largest Unreinforced Concrete Dome in the World, down to this very day… Photo Credit

Not To Be mixed up with the “Parthenon”…According to the New Oxford American Dictionary. A “Pantheon is all the gods of a people, or religion collectively. Especially from Ancient Greece and Rome – A Temple dedicated to all the gods.”

What exactly the Roman Pantheon was created for is still the subject of much speculation. It was built sometime around 125 A.D. For the Roman Emperor Hadrian (Lifespan 76 A.D – 138 A.D).

It is known that Emperor Hadrian, would hold court at the Pantheon during his reign. After the original temple built during the time of Augustus burned down. This new temple was originally commissioned as a replacement for the destroyed Pagan Temple of the gods.

Basilica di Santa Maria ad Martyres

The huge 39’ foot Granite Columns built in the Ancient Greek Corinthian Style, were actually mined and quarried in Egypt. The inscription above the Great Granite Pillars bare the inscription of Marcus Agrippa. In honor of the Roman Military General, and Architect who built the first Temple which burned down.

The Inscription above the Pillars is written in Latin. It reads: “M•AGRIPPA•L•F•COS•TERTIVM•FECIT” which translates to: “Marcus Agrippa, Son Of Lucius, Three Times Consul, Built This

In the year 609 A.D during the Byzantine era. Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon to the Roman Catholic Church. Pope Boniface IV then had the Pantheon converted into a Christian Catholic Church.

The Pantheon became the first Roman Pagan Temple to be rededicated as a Catholic Church in Rome. It became known as the “Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs”.

The Pantheon Fountain

A close up photo I snapped of the Pantheon Fountain, known as Fontana del Pantheon. It was created in 1575, and is made from Marble

The center piece of the ornately sculpted, marble fountain is the Red Granite Obelisk which adorns the fountains pedestal. The Obelisk wasn’t added to the fountain until 1711 after Pope Clement XI requested the fountain be refurbished.

A picture I took from a little further away, which shows just how many people were here in the main courtyard of the Pantheon. It also shows the steps leading up to the Fountain

Like the 39’ Foot Granite Columns of the Pantheon, the Obelisk is also from Egypt. Being built during the time of Ramses II (Lifespan 1303 B.C – 1213 B.C).

The Egyptian Obelisk is 20’ feet long, with the fountain pedestal it stands at 46’ feet tall. It originally stood in the Temple of Ra, in the Ancient Egyptian City of Heliopolis. Which is located in modern day Cairo.

After standing over a 1000 years in Egypt, the Obelisk was most likely brought to Rome in the Late 1st Century B.C. to Late 1st Century A.D. time range.

Once in Rome, the Obelisk was used to adorn the Iseum Campense, or Temple of Isis in Rome. The Temple of Isis was destroyed by a fire sometime in the 5th Century A.D. after Rome converted to Christianity in the 4th Century A.D.

After the Temples destruction, not much is known about the history of the Obelisk until around 1374. When the obelisk is found underground at the Piazza di San Macuto.

This is how the Obelisk gets it’s present day name, the “Macuteo Obelisk”. For more information on this beautiful, and interesting Pantheon Fountain Click Here.

An Adventurous Drive

On the day we visited the Parthenon, we had been out exploring all over Rome. After leaving the Roman Colosseum, we headed for the Pantheon. Following my GPS down busy, bustling Roman streets.

As I drove around Piazza Venezia, I was greeted with many beautiful architectural structures:

Like the Santa Maria di Loreto (Photo Center), and the Roman Triumphal Column. Known as Trajan’s Column (Photo Right)
Another impressive structure is the Victor Emmanuel II Monument. Which I captured as we passed by (excuse my bug, and road grime car window photo 🤦🏽‍♂️)… It’s also known as the Altare della Patria, or Alter of the Fatherland

The Closer we got to the Roman Pantheon, the narrower roads became. Winding through narrow alleyways in between buildings. Alongside a constant flow of moped, and pedestrian foot traffic.

I’m Not Lost!

Driving down the narrow alley of Via del Seminario, after passing the Pantheon once, and having to circle back around again
After getting twisted all around, and lost in the litany of One-Way streets behind the Pantheon. I found myself facing the wrong direction on one of the little alley streets near Piazza del Collegio. Which quickly became a spectacle, as I attempted to perform a 3-Point turn, which became more like a 7-Point turn on the little narrow street with a nonstop flow of traffic
After a few failed attempts at making it to the Pantheon, and acquiring a parking spot. I finally had Success, and was greeted with my first glimpse of the Pantheon, and it’s Dome as it peeked from in between buildings on Piazza della Minerva.

You can also spot another Egyptian Obelisk here, known as the “Minerva Obelisk” (Photo Center) the Obelisk is 41’ feet tall as it stands mounted on the back of a carved Elephant Pedestal. From the time of Pharaoh Wahibre, aka Apries around 580 B.C.

Want to Discover more of what we done in Italy? CLICK HERE to see more of our Italian Adventures!

The Roving Gypsy®

My Partner, and I as we pose for a selfie in front of the Roman Pantheon

Thanks for reading my Travel Blog, I hope you enjoyed our tour of the Roman Pantheon in Italy as much as we did. Like what you read, and want more, or have a suggestion for me? Follow, Share, and Comment to let me know.

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