Pantheon Tours & Activities

About Pantheon

The Pantheon is the most iconic landmark of Rome that has become a major crowd puller in recent days! It is an ancient monument which is famous for being the first pagan temple that has been transformed into a church! It has a mind-boggling history and has been reconstructed twice after being burned down by fires.

The architecture, which was applauded by even Michelangelo, is the reason why people from all over the world flood to see this marvel! Unlike other monuments, it has not fallen into ruins, probably because of the fine quality of the materials used for its construction. It is still relevant in the 21st century and is used for mass gatherings and weddings!

It is dedicated solely to St.Mary and it is touted to be the most well-preserved Roman building in the entire world. The mighty dome of the Pantheon is the single largest unreinforced  dome in the entire world. This monument is so celebrated that it has been the inspiration behind the design of a plethora of buildings throughout Europe, including the Belle Isle House in England.

The other reason Pantheon is well known is that the painting maestros Raphael and composer Arcangelo Corelli have been buried here. You can witness here two sources of light from the entry door and the oculus. The structure is built in such a way that light from the oculus goes around the room throughout the day in reverse sundial effect.

How to Reach Pantheon



From the Roma Urbe airport, the best way would be to take a cab. Considering the distance is only 9 km, it should not cost much. However, there are many ways to reach the Pantheon from the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport:

By Cab:
This is the fastest, albeit costliest option. The airport is 30 km away, and the journey takes almost half an hour. The journey will cost you 45-50€.

By Train:
The Leonardo express leaves the Leonardo da Vinci airport every 20 minutes, and it takes 32 minutes to reach the Roma Termini station. From there, the Pantheon is 2. Km away. The journey may cost you anywhere between Rs 1000 and Rs 2000.

By Bus:
A bus for Rome Vatican leaves the airport bus station every 30 minutes. The journey takes close to 45 min. The Pantheon is 1.4 km away from the Rome Vatican. This is the cheapest option costing around Rs 400-600.

Best Time to Visit Pantheon



The best season to visit the Pantheon would be during early winter and summer. This way, you will get to see the monument in its full glory when sunlight comes in from the oculus. It would be best if you try to go on weekdays as the queues will definitely be less. Also, the main queues form between 11 am and 4 pm. So it would be wise to visit this site in the morning between 9 am, and 10 am. 

You can also visit Pantheon in the evening when the crowd disperses, but then you will not be able to see the light and its reverse sundial effect. A big no would be to visit the Pantheon during the rain, because, firstly, light does not enter and secondly, the rain can disrupt your tour. However, it does not get flooded due to a very efficient drainage system.

What Not to Miss at Pantheon



There are numerous attractions near Pantheon that cannot be missed!

1. The Colosseum
It is counted among the seven wonders of the world! The monument is officially known as the Flavian amphitheater. Initially, it was used just for gladiator fights, but as it gained importance, it started hosting other macabre events like public executions and animal hunts!

This mammoth structure that once housed 80,000 spectators fell to ruins because of repeated earthquakes and stone robbers. But even after falling into ruins, it is pretty much synonymous with the city of Rome!

2. Trevi Fountain
This doubles as a tourist attraction and a charitable association- it donates nearly a few thousand coins tossed in by hopeful tourists every single day! It is the largest fountain created in the Baroque style and has even featured in the Roman holiday! 

3. Piazza Navona
This magnificent plaza is another example of the sculptures of the Baroque era. It is built on the site of an ancient Roman stadium that held games and contests. It has the famous Bernini piece, Fountain of the Four Rivers in the center, which is topped by the Obelisk of Domitian. And overlooking the fountain lies the Pamphili palace, which is the finest example of grandeur and royalty.

4. Spanish Steps
This very famous flight of stairs, built in the Baroque style of architecture that leads from the Piazza di Spagna to the Piazza Trinità dei Monti. It was built to connect the French church to the Spanish plaza, but the Pope never revealed this fact.

Pantheon Dome



The dome of the Pantheon sits on top of the drum, which supports most of its weight. The drum is the cylindrical structure beneath the dome. The walls just seem thick on the outside, but on the inside, they are filled with semicircular abscesses.  This is a traditional Roman form of architecture where the structure may seem solid but is really hollow from inside.

On top of the drum, there are rows of step rings- which are basically just concrete barrels stacked one on top of the other. With these two clever inventions, the Ancient Romans made sure the weight of the massive hemisphere was supported.

Initially, the dome was covered by bronze, but that was removed, melted, and used for other purposes. Only a small circular area around the oculus still retains the original bronze. The plan of the dome structure is rather reminiscent of the plan of Emperor Nero’s palace.

Other Essential Information About Pantheon



Location:

The Pantheon is located in Piazza della Rotonda. The official address of the monument is Piazza della Rotonda, 00186 Roma RM, Italy.

Opening hours:
It is open from 8:30 am to 7:15 pm on weekdays and Saturday. It is open from 9 am to 5:45 pm on Sundays.

Entry fee:
Good news here- the entrance to the Pantheon is absolutely free!

Distance from the nearest airport:
The nearest airport is the Roma Urbe airport, which is around 9 km away from the monument. However, this is a regional airport, and you can only board domestic flights from here. The nearest international airport is the Leonardo da Vinci International Airport which is 30 km away.

History and Architecture of the Pantheon



History
Initially, a different structure was built in the same place where Pantheon presently stands in 25 BC by Marcus Agrippa. It was built to honor the Roman deities of yore. It has been burned down to ashes twice in history- first in 80 AD and then in 110 AD. The final structure that is present today was built by Roman Emperor Hadrian around 127 AD.

The Pantheon started losing relevance once Rome was conquered by Emperor Constantine as it was primarily a Roman pagan temple. But then a few centuries later, it was converted into a Christian church, on orders of the Pope, and it got back its magnificent reputation.

Architecture
The Pantheon has three main structures- the portico, the rotunda with the domed ceiling and, the rectangular vestibule connecting the other two structures. All the features except the domed roof of the rotunda are similar to the architecture of another ancient Roman temple. Its dome is so alluring that the famed sculptor Michelangelo said of the Pantheon-“ It is the design of angels, not a man!”

Exterior and Interior of the Pantheon



The marvelous architecture of the Pantheon is the reason behind its popularity worldwide. Here are a few details about the exterior and interior brilliance of Pantheon

Exterior
The Pantheon has a beautiful portico in front, which is supported by sixteen columns. The shafts and capitals of the column are made of different materials. The shaft is carved out of premium Egyptian granite, and the intricately carved capital is made out of Greek marble.

As a result of the long-time required for the construction, the columns are made of materials that have been exported from different locations. Different laborers were also employed to construct this iconic site.  As a result, all the columns vary in length and width.

Interior
The interior of the column is a marvel in itself, and when natural light falls on, it creates heavenly imagery. It consists of two prominent parts- the cupola and the rotunda. The cupola has 5 rows of coffers with 28 coffers in each row. With each ascending row, the size of the coffers decreases a little, and finally, they end at the oculus.

Though it is now grey, the cupola is believed to have been dark blue. When you enter the rotunda, you are hit with a burst of colors- red, yellow, purple, and more. Even the floors are made of colored marble squares and roundels! The rotunda walls have recesses in them- these were used to paint frescoes and to place sculptures, but now they are used as seven chapels.

Facts about the Pantheon



The Pantheon is a fascinating monument, and here we’re decoding some fun facts about it.

The Pantheon has been burnt to cinder twice in its lifetime. The modern-day Pantheon is a result of two consecutive resurrections.

It is interesting to note that of all the monuments of Rome, Pantheon has escaped the evil eye of invaders!

The dome is considered to be the largest in ancient Rome.

The exterior has a couple of pediments- one inscribed and another attached to the rotunda.

The height difference between the two pediments is a whopping 13.5 feet! But this is considered to be a clever job on the part of the architect. With this height difference, the short pediment aligns with the St Peter’s Basilica obelisk, and the longer one aligns with the obelisk bang in front of the monument.

It is the belief of a few historians that the oculus was, in fact, a clock of yore. People could tell the time of day by watching the way light streamed in!

Tips for visiting the Pantheon



Here are a few tips that you need to follow while visiting Pantheon.

1. Wear modest clothes
Since Pantheon is revered as a religious site it is very important that your dress modestly before entering its premises.

2. Maintain silence
It is extremely important for the tourists visiting Patheon not to talk loudly or scream as people come here to seek quietude.

3. Maintain cleanliness
You should also take care not to throw garbage here and there. Dispose the plastic bottles or cans only in the dustbin that have been provided here.

4. Crowds
If you want to steer clear of the crowds, go between 9 am, and 10 am. But if you want to see it in full glory, 12 noon to 1 pm is the best time as the dome is inundated with sunlight.

5. Make sure you have enough time in hand
In case you are going with a group, make sure you have up to 3 hours reserved for this as the whole tour takes time!
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People Also Ask About Pantheon

  1. Why is the Pantheon so important?

    The Pantheon holds massive significance regarding two things. Firstly, it is the oldest Roman pagan temple to be converted into a church. And secondly, the pillars, portico, and drum of the Pantheon are quite similar to other temples, but the dome is what sets the Pantheon extremely unique!
  2. Who is buried at the Pantheon?

    World-famous sculptor Michelangelo is buried here, along with fellow sculptor Annibale Carracci. Other celebrated people interred are famous architect Baldassare Peruzzi and composer Arcangelo Corelli who played for Queen Christina of Sweden after her abdication. A plethora of Italian monarchs, including Vittorio Emanuel III, Queen Margharita, and Umberto, are also buried here.
  3. When was the Pantheon built?

    It was built around 126 AD by Emperor Augustus. But it got burnt in fire around 80 AD and was rebuilt by Roman Emperor Domitian.
  4. What does the Pantheon symbolize?

    The Pantheon is symbolic as the longest-standing temple dedicated to the Roman gods. And what astonishes historians, even more, is its relatively less barbaric history. It is one of the very few monuments of ancient Rome that has not been plundered by the cruel invaders!
  5. Is the Pantheon free to enter?

    Yes, it is absolutely free to enter Pantheon. The Italian government has tried to impose an entry fee a few times, but the implementation, thankfully for tourists, has never taken place!
  6. How long does it take to tour the Pantheon?

    If you are going solo, an hour should be enough to take in the aura of the monument. In case you are traveling with a group, it will take you anywhere around 2 to 3 hours. So make sure you are not short of time while visiting this splendid site.

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