The Roman Pantheon is the most preserved and influential building of ancient Rome. It is a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. As the brick stamps on the side of the building reveal it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125.
The emperor Hadrian (A.D 117-138) built the Pantheon to replace Augustus’ friend and Commander Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon of 27 B.C. which burnt to the ground in 80 A.D.
When approaching the front of the Pantheon one can see the inscription above still reads in Latin the original dedication by Marcus Agrippa. The inscription reads:
“Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”.
Despite all the marvelous building projects that the emperor Hadrian produced during his reign, he never inscribed his name to any, but one, the temple of his father Trajan. That is why the Roman Pantheon bears the inscription of Marcus Agrippa, and not the emperor Hadrian.
The pediment, (the triangle section above the inscription) is blank today, but there would have been sculpture that acted out the battle of the Titans. Great bronze doors guard the entrance to the cella and would have been covered in gold, but it has long since disappeared.
The original use of the Pantheon is somewhat unknown, except that is was classified as a temple. However, it is unknown as to how the people worshipped in the building, because the structure of the temple is so different from other traditional Roman temples such as in the Roman Forum.
The Pantheon exists today in such amazing form because the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave it to Pope Boniface the IV in A.D 608 and it was used as a church ever since. The Pantheon has been in use since the time it was built.
Architecture of the PantheonProbably one of the most fascinating features of the Pantheon is the Architecture. The structure of the Pantheon is comprised of a series of intersecting arches. The arches rest on eight piers which support eight round-headed arches which run through the drum from its inner to its outer face. The arches correspond to the eight bays on the floor level that house statues.
The dome itself is supported by a series of arches that run horizontally round. Romans had perfected the use of arches which helped sustain the weight of their magnanimous buildings.