Inside the Pantheon, the surviving temple of ancient Rome

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

The Pantheon was a pagan temple dedicated to all gods, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa. It was meant to impress by its unprecedented dimensions and shape and was heavily decorated, in contrast with the austere interior we see now. It was probably very colorful, with stars painted on the ceiling, statues in every niche and golden doors. Marcus Agrippa was consul and victorious general in the naval battle of Actium, where he supported Octavius Augustus against Mark Antony and Cleopatra. The temple of Agrippa was destroyed by fire, as was the reconstruction made by Domitian, but the one made by Hadrian had an almost two millenniums life. To this day it is still the largest dome of unreinforced concrete.

A sphere would fit perfectly inside, as the height to the highest point is 43 m, equal to the diameter of the dome. The dome weights more than 4,500 tons. The concrete is different in composition from bottom to the top, with lighter, less dense material at the top. The portion eliminated by the oculus also helped lose some weight on the structure.
The oculus, the empty circle on top, is the distinctive feature of this temple, which became a church dedicated to Virgin Mary and the Christian martyrs in 609. The oculus is 9 m in diameter and is the only source of light for inside and also serves as ventilation.

The entrance has a triangular pediment resting on marble columns. The granite columns inside were carved in Egypt and shipped through the Nile, the Mediterranean See and then on the Tiber.

Raphael was buried here as were two Italian kings, Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of unified Italy and Umberto Primo, his successor.
The pantheon inspired Bunelleschi to design the cathedral of Florence, which was the first dome in history larger than the pantheon and numerous other churches as the pantheon in Paris or the dome in Naples, St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican or secular buildings, such as the White House in Washington.

Mai multe despre: Italia, Religious architecture
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