Design and Construction of the Pantheon in Rome





Design and Construction of the Pantheon in Rome

The Pantheon was constructed during the reign of Emperor Augustus. The meaning of the name ‘Pantheon’ is “common to all the gods”. The name “pantheon” was derived from the Greek language because most of the Romans spoke the dialect. The Pantheon building is located in Rome, Italy and occupies a large area in the city. It was custom built during the reign of Emperor Augustus (30 BC – 15 AD). The exact age of the building remains a mystery because no one in history cataloged the exact year it was constructed. The building was first constructed as a rectangle in shape. During the reign of Emperor Agrippa in 80AD, the Pantheon was burnt down because people wanted to convert it to a church (Nickerson 2008). Later it was reconstructed in a circular shape in the form of a dome. The circular shape of the Pantheon made it famous because it was the only circular shaped building in Rome. The Pantheon created attractions to most of the architects who wanted to study the designs used during construction. It emerged as one of the most preserved constructions among other Ancient buildings in Rome. It is famous and important to the Romans for it holds all of their gods thus the coined term ‘The Temple of the gods’.

The Pantheon has been in continuous use throughout its history, from being first pagan temple in Rome (Nickerson 2008). It was used as a home for the gods and the pagans used to make their sacrifices there. In addition, it was the burial place for most of the important people in Rome. In 125AD, the temple was converted into a church by the name Santa Maria. The church was a home of Christians particularly the Catholic since then. The Pantheon was the first Christian church in Rome, which was later dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and since the 7th century, it has been used for that purpose. The doors of the building were covered with gold but later during the change of leadership, they were changed into bronze. The doors of bronze were very heavy, and they could not be opened manually. There is a large opening at the top of the building known as the ‘oculus’, which is the sole light source of the building. The floor of the Pantheon is built to ensure the rainwater entering the building will flow outside. On the altar, there are some monuments of famous people in the history of Rome. The apse, which is a large semicircular recess in the building, is covered by a golden layer that reflects the image of the building from the inside thus making it appealing to the eyes. The building contains some of the painting executed by lime plaster known as the fresco incorporated in the walls to promote beauty in the structure. Some of the frescos are images of the Virgin Mary. The monument and tombs are located inside the wall enclosed by heavy stone doors, which were built to standard and are controlled mechanically. On the exterior part of the church, there is a fountain, which contains some of the Egyptian obelisks used for decoration. The dome sheets were originally covered with bronze but later they were changed to aluminum (DuTemple 1). Outside the building, twelve pillars surround the front part of the building.

The temple acted as a museum where they stored some of the oldest architectural Roman monuments. It also stored some of the expensive minerals and ancient artifacts that were valuable at the time of Roman emperors. The building acted as a source of tourist attraction due to its unique features. Most of the tourists were attracted by the dome shaped building and the unique source of light used to illuminate the building. The monument and the structure of the building attracted most of the architect in search of exploration of new designs (Mosman 1). In ancient days, it brought tourist due to the availability of the bronze on the doors and the gold coating in the apse. Most of the British colonialist came to tour around the building because of their increase in interest of the minerals and artifacts. The pantheon, as one of the most secured ancient monument, suffered a bad history due to increase in number of greedy leaders (Beach and Rines 2013)  This enhanced loss of important the monuments and artifacts in the history of Rome. The building survived because it was converted into a church. This ensured the reservation of some artifacts. A bell was added on top of the building useful during mass services but later it was removed.

In spite of this, it remains a dignified homage to the genius of the ancient times due to its architectural structure; the building was complete with its highly decorated interior in perfect dimensions. The Pantheon was built on swampy, unsteady earth, which gave a serious underneath problem to its builders (Schall 2010). This condition created disaster in the final construction phase because the foundation cracked twice on both axes. At this point, it became hard for the workers to continue with the construction process. They decided to build another ring that would help in holding the structure. Luckily, the method was efficient to prevent the crack from extending. The builders placed support walls on the sides opposite the building to function as support devices. It made the foundation material hard and steady as a rock. On its towers, it is covered with a magnificent material coffered dome, above it; there is an oculus for the building open to the sky to incorporate light (DuTemple 1). The Pantheon is more than just a structure, it is lasting work of art that will forever remain in the history of the Romans. Regardless of these changes, the Pantheon is one of the best-preserved ancient monuments in the world and it still has an imperative purpose.


Works Cited

Beach, Frederick C, and George E. Rines. The Encyclopedia Americana: A Universal Reference Library Comprising the Arts and Sciences, Literature, History, Biography, Geography, Commerce, Etc., of the World. Charleston, S.C.: Nabu Press, 2013. Print.

DuTemple, Lesley A. The Pantheon. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications Co, 2003. Print.

N.a. Pantheon. Mosman: IMinds. 2009. Print.

Nickerson, Angela K. A Journey into Michelangelo’s Rome. Berkeley, Calif: Roaring Forties Press, 2008. Print

Schall, James V. Schall on Chesterton: Timely Essays on Timeless Paradoxes. Washington, D.C: Catholic University of America Press, 2010. Print.

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