LA Study Tour with Jack
The Pantheon
by Kaitlin Chin

 

Pantheon, Rome www.artchive.com/.../r/roman/roman_pantheon.jpg

 

Introduction :

Dedicated to all the gods, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved Roman temples. The Pantheon is considered to be one of the greatest architectural structures from ancient times. Finished in 125 AD by Roman emperor Hadrian, the Pantheon is one of the oldest standing structures in Rome today.

 

Interior painted by Giovanni Paolo Pannini http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/69/Pantheon-panini.jpg

 

History :

Originally built in 27 BC by emperor Agrippa, the Pantheon was destroyed in a fire in 80 AD. Hadrian commissioned the rebuilding of the temple but there is no indication of the emperor on the building at all. Over the portico is an inscription “Marcus Agrippa, Lucii filius, consul tertium fecit” meaning “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, Consul for the third time, built this”.

By 609 AD Byzantine Emperor Phocas, gave the building to Pope Boniface VIII. The building was converted into the church of Santa Maria and Martyres. The conversion from temple to Christian church is the main reason why the structure is still in good condition today.

During the Renaissance, the Pantheon was used as a tomb for many members of the arts. Such artists as Annibale Carracci and Raphael were buried in the Pantheon. At this time many artists used the Pantheon as an inspiration for other buildings. Brunelleschi, noted the Pantheon as one of the structures that inspired his design for the Dome of the Duomo in Florence .

The Pantheon is one of the most visited sites in Rome today. It is still used as a Catholic church and holds mass daily.

 

View of Pantheon from sidehttp://atheism.about.com/od/christianchurchchurches/ig/Pantheon-Rome-Temple-Church/

 

Design :

Known for its dome structure, the Pantheon is one of the greatest examples of Roman architecture. Even though Hadrian is attributed with the commission of the building, the actual architect remains unknown. The design of the temple follows traditional Roman style. The entrance to the Pantheon was designed with a portico held up by eight columns across holding up the pediment, which holds the inscription to Agrippa.

View of inscripton to Agrippa

 

 

The incorporation of Greek styles into the temple is related to Hadrian's education. He was educated in Roman Spain and spent much of his childhood learning about ancient Greek culture. The dome is one of the most innovative structures created, the incorporation of an oculus in the dome allows for the temple to be completely lighted without the help of artificial lighting. The oculus itself is twenty seven feet wide and is made from pumice -the lightest of all the materials. The dome varies in thickness, from 21 feet at the base to 4 feet at the top.

 

Interior of Pantheon High Altar View

 

Entrance with oculus view

Interior:

The exterior of the Pantheon is simple and unadorned with detail especially when compared to the inside which was embellished with colored marble and bronze moldings. The floor is inlaid with colored granite and marble in the form of squares and circles. The inside of the dome is based on simple geometry. The dome is circular in height and width. The diameter and height of the rotunda are the same, 142 feet. The walls of the dome have a honeycombed effect known as coffering. The use of coffering allowed for the dome to appear larger than it was. Eight piers circle the temple, which correspond with eight niches. The niches were likely used to hold statutes to gods or theologians. The inside bares many of the same decorations as when it was completed in 125 BC. Much of the original marble and bronze has been removed and used on other sites. It is noted that during Pope Urban VII's reign, he ordered all Pantheon's bronze to be melded down and used for fortifications of other buildings. After the temple's conversion into a Catholic church many of the structure's original statues were replaced with catholic icons. Today many of these works are present in the temple.

360º view of interior http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pantheon_360.jpg

 

Construction:

The Pantheon's dome is the oldest free standing dome in Rome . The architects achieved such a large dome by building with lighter materials as the dome get higher. The dome begins with the heaviest materials at the bottom and the lighter stones on top. Stones such as pumice, brick, travertine and tufa were used in the construction.

View of the oculus and coffered ceiling http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Pantheon_Rome.jpg

The interior construction was difficult due to the weight of the large dome. Eight piers hold most of the weight; these main piers are supporting eight rounded arches. The arches create eight niches that hold up the upper cornice. The designer of the building used simple structures to reduce the weight of the dome. The mixing of concrete, travertine, pumice and brick allowed for a faster drying time than just concrete. The form of the dome was created by building a wooden mold first, on the inside and outside of the structure. Then a mixture of concrete was poured over the negative. After the concrete was dried the temporary wooden structures were removed.

 

Significance:

The Pantheon is still discussed today as a building clouded in mystery. The original purpose of the building is unknown. Although the temple is dedicated to all Greek gods the scale and size of the temple emphasized power and Roman duty. There is also celestial symbolism present in the temple. The representation of celestial symbols and Roman power could be linked to the idea of the empire's far reaches. Hadrian, was a military emperor and conquered many countries during his reign. But we are still unsure of the building's true meaning and purpose.

The building today represents the architectural advancements during the late Roman Empire . The Pantheon is attributed with inspiring many other buildings such as the Panthéon in Paris and Thomas Jefferson's rotunda at University of Virginia . Considered to be the best preserved Roman temples, the Pantheon will be forever seen as one of the greatest Roman structures ever built.

 

Visiting:

Address: Piazza della Rotonda, Rome 00186 , Italy

General Hours: Monday-Saturday: 8am to 7:30pm and Sunday 9am to 5:30pm

Admission: free

 

Bibliography

The Pantheon: Design, Meaning and Progeny By William L. MacDonald, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA , 2002

Roman Architecture By Frank Sear, Cornell University Press, Ithaca , NY , 1982

http://goeurope.about.com/od/rome/a/pantheon.htm 2/25/2009

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheon,_Rome 2/25/2009