Built in
Rome, Italy
Some parts of this article have been translated using Google’s translation engine. We understand the quality of this translation is not excellent and we are working to replace these with high quality human translations.


In 27 B.C. the first Pantheon was built by Agrippa Vipsanio, General Augustus Caesar in the first century BC, was destroyed by fire in the year 80.

Engraving by Giovanni Piranesi-XVIII

Approximately 118 years late Hadrian had built on the foundations of the temple destroyed by fire, and in the name of Agrippa, a new temple whose project was commissioned the great architect Apollodorus of Damascus. He got a circular temple dedicated to all the gods of Rome, the word “cemetery” comes from the Greek, means “all gods. In this construction the Romans came to technical perfection hitherto unattained, to solve weight problems aside and push on the other structure.

In the year 608 the Eastern emperor Foca temple donated to Pope Boniface IV, who transformed it into a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is the first case of transformation of a pagan temple in Catholic church.

  • Miguel Angel wrote of him: “angelic and not human design”
  • Stendhal also wrote for “The most beautiful memories of Roman antiquity is undoubtedly the Pantheon. This temple has suffered so little, that appears to be like in Roman times.”

This temple contains the remains of Roman Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520) and the Italian king Victor Emmanuel II (1820-1878)


Agrippa’s Pantheon is the Piazza della Rotonda, Rome, at the ancient Baths of Agrippa, which still remains in emerging soil excavation in the back of the temple.


The building was designed to unite man with divinity, but especially with the emperor, proclaimed god in the eyes of the people. The proportions and structure of the Pantheon are representative of this Roman religious conception, the abode of the gods, the centralization of the variety of cults in Rome at the time. An architecture synthesis between heaven and earth, “as above, so below – as below, so above.”

For this reason the building has a circular closed by a dome. The circular room was a perfect sphere, representing the cosmogonic conception of Aristotle.
On one hand the world infralunar corresponds to the lower half of the building. The world supralunar, the celestial sphere is round, which makes the central oculus Sun


In the Pantheon which was built under the rule of Hadrian changed the orientation to the Pantheon precedent, as it was decided to put the north facade. The building was composed of a colonnade as a pronaos, a large cell radius and intermediate prismatic structure.

Pronaos and midbody

The large structure pronaos and cella union with the fully occupied space above the temple, while the rotunda rose on the Plaza Augustea space separating the original Pantheon Temple of Neptune.
The intermediate body connects with the cella and pronaos is formed with two large piers flanking the access path to the roundabout which is an extension of the central nave of the pronaos. Between the piers and the cella there are two stairs to the top of the dome.

Round Room


The insertion of a large round room attached to the portico of a classical temple is an innovation in Roman architecture. The model circular space covered by a vault had already been used in large thermal rooms, but it was a novelty to a temple.

The internal space of the roundabout is constructed by a cylinder covered by a hemisphere. The cylinder has a radius equal to the height so that it can record a full sphere interior space. The diameter of the dome is 43.20 meters, this makes it the largest in history, that of St. Peter in the Vatican is a little smaller.

Architectural and artistic elements

Octastyle porch or pronaos

The rectangular portico entrance, on the north side, is classic and occult continuous circular plant, not seen from the outside allowing the magnitude of the temple.
In this porch appear frontally the first 8 columns of large dimensions, 12 meters high, giving it the characteristics of a pronaos octastyle, together with the other 8 columns laterally spread to four. Its dimensions are 34.20 x15, 62 meters and accessed five steps up to a height of 1.32 on the plaza level.

About eight front columns rests the triangular frieze whose base is the name of Agrippa in bronze letters. A second inscription on the architrave refers to the restoration in time of Septimius Severus.


The inner dome is spherical and is decorated with caissons which decrease in size as they approach the center thereof. At the top of the dome opens a central oculus of 9 meters in diameter that lights the room together with small open bays in the ring that serves as a basis to it.

Through oculus sunlight enters and as the day progresses and changes its position alternately illuminating each of the altars of different gods.
Both internal and external decoration was rich colored marble and external splines were coated with bronze dome.

Vaults for each of the gods

The upper drum of these chapels, created to house the different gods is supported by two Corinthian columns and their openings alternate with small niches delimited with pilasters and Corinthian capitals on them architraves, friezes and cornices that are part of the drum that sobreeleva, alternating large niches with coffered and finally merging with the dome in a game of cornices.
Were placed statues of the most important gods Romans as Mars and Venus among others.

Corinthian Columns

Both the exterior and interior columns are Corinthian, considered an evolution of Ionic and characterized by having greater height through a drum more. Their capitals are adorned with acanthus leaves and scrolls in the corners.

Structure and construction

The architecture of the Pantheon is complex in its proportions and innovative in design. Its main structure is a circular, surmounted by a dome 43.2 meters in diameter and preceded by a rectangular portico. Presents seven niches or circular vaults (apses), dedicated to different deities. In the construction of the temple combined lintels vaulted systems, but among its arches and vaults also rose straight lines, especially in the main portal.


The columns of the portico stands the entablature and pediment fixed it, it has a plain tympanum characteristic of Roman architecture, which divides it into three parts, a larger domed central and two lateral adinteladas of equal size and finished in two apses. The porch is covered by a gable roof.

The arches are semicircular pronoas and the barrel vault, the Corinthian columns belong to.

Main Nave

  • Plant

The measurements of the circular are such that if the dome continue its circular line to complete a sphere, this would fit exactly within the temple and would have represented the celestial globe resting on the floor, so the height of the interior of the dome also is 43.20 meters. Upon entering the ship has the feeling of being in a spherical space, as you would enter into a ball.

Inside the Pantheon have kept the lines of Greek architecture, combined with elements characteristic of the Roman buildings, such as vaults. Externally, the building is a flat wall round cylinder topped by a huge dome.

  • Dome

The dome is supported statically on the cylinder having a radius of 21.60 m, the same dimension as the cylinder and height. The thickness of the cylindrical wall is six meters and is supported by a foundation ring 7.30 meters thick. This wall encloses a scalloped brick vaults and arches that carry the weight of the concrete at the points of greatest resistance. Upon completion must have been reinforced by the east and south with outbuildings.

The dome uses a system divided into parallels and meridians, as shown in the form of the caisson, where by concentric rings is a freestanding building system as to make a ring around putting the last “key”, you can remove the scaffolding and proceed to the next ring.

To lighten their weight and ensure clamping has laid the full weight of 6 thick pillars that are hidden within the cylindrical wall and collect the weight such that each open spaces that serve as chapels. Very light materials were used to execute the three lines of fascia, visible from the outside of the cylinder, delimiting the three sectors constituting the real superimposed wall therein filler materials are lightening bottom up.

The geometric relationships of the building are part of the Greek symbols expressing the origin of the world. The Pantheon represents quality of design and construction and today its main structure is intact.

The Greek influence in Roman architecture is considerable, the Greek building prototype is transmitted to the great masters of the ancient world, which is evident by looking at this work.

  • Niche

In the image you appreciate some of the niches of the central cylinder

The load distribution allows the cylinder to be opened eight niches, one occupied by the front door and the other seven in alternating rectangles and semicircles.

The rectangles on the shaft ends and the semicircles on the diagonals. Two columns, niches Pavonazzetto in Giallo Antico semicircular and rectangular in, close the respective openings.


The 16 monolithic columns of the portico were conducted with Egyptian granite, porphyry and white marble bases.

The main materials used in the construction of the temple were hewn stone, brick, and marble, the latter serve to create a rich decoration and to cover the most noble, like marble or Giallo Antico Pavonazzetto used in niche of different gods.

The construction of the dome was made with lightweight concrete using pumice as aggregate and murario ring is thick brick and tile works (concrete bricks)




Some parts of this article have been translated using Google’s translation engine. We understand the quality of this translation is not excellent and we are working to replace these with high quality human translations.

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