The Pantheon

Opening hours Open 9:00 to 18:30 Monday to Saturday, closes 13:00 Sundays.

Ticket prices Entry to the Pantheon is free.

Once you've spent some time in Rome, many of the better-known sights (like the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain or Piazza Navona), begin to lose their shine. They become symbols not of Rome but of the masses of tourists who block up the streets and get in the way. But there's something magical about the Pantheon, which keeps its fascination for even the most jaded local.

The Pantheon The Pantheon

The Pantheon was built by Hadrian in 125 AD, on the site of an earlier building which has burned down (the inscription on the Portico, which credits Marcus Agrippa with the construction, is a reference to that earlier building). Originally a temple to the Roman gods, it was converted into a Christian church by Boniface IV in the early 7th century. Since then it has also been known by the name Santa Maria ad Martyres.

Things to See

Pantheon interior The interior of the Pantheon. This photograph was taken during renovations in 2005; compare the clean ceiling on the right side of the image with the unrenovated part on the left.

The experience of first walking into the Pantheon is a remarkable one. It's a beautiful building, constructed on precise lines of geometry. The dome is a hemisphere, 43 metres wide, which at its highest point reaches a height of 43 metres from the ground, meaning that were the sphere to be completed, it would fit exactly into the remaining space.

At the centre of the dome is an eight-metre hole, or oculus, which opens the building up to the heavens. Small holes in the marble floor drain away any rainwater.

Several people are buried in the Pantheon, including the Italian kings Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and the painter Raphael.

Visiting the Pantheon

The Pantheon is easily reachable on foot, lying in the maze of streets between Piazza Navona and the Trevi fountain. There are plenty of signposts.