I realize to some of you I may seem a vacuous fashionista based on some of my comments, but I do enjoy the cultural aspects of life, and although our trip to Rome and Venice did involve quite a bit of eating and shopping, it was not devoid of culture. Case in point, the Roman Pantheon. I say ‘Roman’ because there is another Pantheon in Paris, but nowhere near the magnificence of the original Roman one.
I’ll be honest. From the outside its not much to look at. Just another (very) old square building with some Latin across the top, but that belies the reality of the place.
One need only look at the brobdingnagian(awesome word, look it up) doors to see there’s more than meets the eye from the outside…
Originally these tremendous bronze doors would have been gilded, but apparently someone heisted it (somehow, with a blowtorch?) long ago. Even as is, they are insanely imposing. I felt like an ant standing next to them and you can get a good idea from the picture here how insignificant you too might feel.
When you walk inside, it’s not that big in terms of square footage, but its height is immense and powerful.
And then you have this tremendous oculus (hole, LOL!) with sunlight pouring in that seems an architectural impossibility and under your feet this incredibly beautiful marble…
As Jane astutely pointed out, “this is seriously a bucket list moment”. Some very interesting things to point out about the Pantheon are:
-It’s the most well preserved of all the ancient Roman buildings, erected, or should I say re-erected in AD 118-125 after the original, built by Marcus Agrippa burned in AD 80. In a quirky twist, Hadrian, who rebuilt it, left Marcus’ name inscribed across the front (the Latin I mentioned earlier). I guess Hadrian didn’t want to take the credit for a redo. Anyway, it was originally built as a pagan temple but the reason it’s in such good condition is that it was given to Pope Boniface VIII around AD 608 by the then Byzantine emperor Phocas (nothing like a little kissing up) and it has been used as a church ever since.
-The Pantheon is built using intersecting arches which spread out the immense weight, a feat they learned from the aquaducts and other large structures (the Romans definitely thought bigger was better).
-The dome was built of several materials, starting with the heaviest at the bottom to the lightest on top at the oculus…travartine marble, tufa (not tofu), brick and finally pumice (like the stuff you scrape off knarly skin with)
-I wish I could have gotten a decent picture of this but the middle of the floor is CONVEX with small slits, to catch the rain falling in through the oculus, and the drainage system is ORIGINAL to the building. I find that incredibly fascinating. Did I tell you about the time I toured the sewers of Paris (seriously)?