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  • The Pantheon

    This famous temple is the most complete and ancient monument in Rome. It is formed by a round dome preceeded by a pronaus and a large portico with columns.

    It is one century and more that the reciprocal relation between these two parts has been discussed; some very recent studies have made the inscription clear. It" may be resumed as follows.

    The temple was dedicated to the seven gods of the planet (whence its name) by Marcus Agrippa, one of Agrippa's nephews. Quite rebuilt by Adrian it is just as we admire it today. Adrian made the founder's name repeated on the gable. The three parts, the portico, the antiportico and the rotunda were built in different times, but one after the other. Septimius Severo and Caracalla as it results from an inscription, provided to the rebuilding of the decorative part and to a new paving. In 609 it was transformed into a Christian church (S. Maria ad Martires) by pope Bonifacius IV. The Emperor Constant II (663) took from the roof the tiles of golden bronze which were afterwards substituted by Gregory III (735) with others in lead. In Middle Ages it was suffocated by shabby constructions, then taken off by Eugenius IV in 1435. The last transformation was due to Bernini, who built the two little peels, taken off afterwards in 1893.

    The level of the square was anciently much lower. A staircase whose remains still exist led to the temple. The grandiose portico is in 16 columns on three naves; 14 columns are in grey and pink granite, the three ones on the left were replaced by Urban VIII and Alexander VII, whose armorial-bearings are on the head-bands.

    The roof, with wooden beams, was rebuilt by Urban VIII who took off the ancient bronze linings. On the fore part of the pronaus there are two large niches which are said to have contained the colossal statues of Agrippa and Augustus.

    The door lined in bronze is still the ancient one. The inside has a majestic dome leaning on an attic; the height of the dome, equal to its diameter, is 43,40 metres. It is a perfect emisphere. Of the 7 niches, four are rectangular and three half circular. They are faced two Corinthian columns. Between the niches there are 8 stations, afterwards transformed into altars with columns in porphiry and granite; above there is an entablature and an high attic. The panelled vault ends in a large central ho1e having a diameter of 8,92 metres. It gives light to the whole building and puts into mystic communication the divinities with the sky; it is framed with bronze. In the first niche on the right there is a beautiful Annunciation, a fresco attributed to Melozzo da Forlì. In the next one there is the grave of Victor Emanuel II (1878) by Architect Manfredi. On the high altar there is the image of.the Virgin who gave the Christian name to the temple. In the posterior part of the Pantheon there are some remains of the Baths of Agrippa, a large apse and an entablature richly carved with marine ornaments (shells, dolphins).

    Soon after the high altar in the rectangular niche there is the marble memorial of Cardinal Consalvi. Between the fifth and sixth niche there is the grave of Raphael Sanzio, on the fore part of the sarcophagus we read the famous inscription of Bembo: "Ille hic est Raphae1, timuit qui sospite vinci rerum magna parens et moriente mori" (Here is that Raphael by whom while he lived the great mother of things feared to be won, and when he died she too feared to die). On the altar there is the Madonna by Lonrenzetto (Madonna del Sasso). A tomb-stone ahove it is the funerial memorial of painter Hannibal Carracci and on the right of the altar the·memorial of Mary Dovizi da Bibbiena, the fiancé of Raphael. There follows the grave of Humhert I, king of Italy (1900), by G. Sacconi, and of queen Margaret. On the left of the following altar and in the seven niche there are tomb-stones and graves of very great artists: Balthasar Peruzzi, Thaddeus Zuccari, Flaminius Vacca.


    Related Resources:
    Rome City Guide
    Rome Photos

    Bardi, Tilde A Guide to the Great Roman Monuments: St. Peter's, the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine, the Bath of Caracalla. Rome: Dott. Giovanni Bardi, 1945. 26-31

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