All About History - - ROMAN EMPIRE -

The Pan­theon is sec­ond only to the Colos­seum in sheer scale and the ex­tent to which it has been pre­served. Be­lieved to have been built in the 2nd cen­tury CE by Em­peror Hadrian, the Pan­theon was a tem­ple built to hon­our all gods.

As the Ro­mans con­quered the world and in­creas­ingly came into con­tact with other re­li­gions, rather than per­se­cut­ing these re­li­gious mi­nori­ties, the Ro­mans adopted their belief sys­tems along­side their own. The Pan­theon was orig­i­nally a place where any Ro­man could go to wor­ship, re­gard­less of who or what they be­lieved in. In­deed, the very word Pan­theon is a hy­brid of the Greek words ‘pan’ mean­ing all and ‘theos’ mean­ing god. The in­scrip­tion on the out­side of the build­ing reads, “Mar­cus Agrippa, son of Lu­cius, con­sul for the third time built this,” which is a ref­er­ence to one of Rome’s great­est states­men, a close friend and son-in-law of first Ro­man Em­peror Au­gus­tus, who built the orig­i­nal tem­ple on which the cur­rent Pan­theon now stands.

Some of the in­te­rior has been re­mod­elled over the years – the shrines to the Ro­man gods of the plan­ets were re­placed with Chris­tian icons when Rome con­verted – the mar­ble floor and the huge dome un­der which the build­ing sits are both orig­i­nal. The hole in the roof, or ‘Ocu­lus’, streams in sun­light and may have been in­tended as a gi­ant sun­dial.

Ad­mis­sion is free. Open daily from 8.30am-7.30pm on week­days and Satur­days and at 9am-6pm on Sun­days.

The Pan­theon re­mains a holy place – a Catholic church

2,000 years on, the dome re­mains awe in­spir­ing

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