Pantheon, Rome

The Pantheon (Greek Πάνθειον ( ἱερόν ), PAN of πᾶν, everything ' and θεός theos ' god ', Italian and La Rotonda, rotunda ') is an ancient building in Rome and since 609 AD a Roman Catholic church.

The under Emperor Hadrian around 119/125 AD completed Pantheon had for more than 1700 years, the largest dome in the world, measured on the inside diameter, and is generally considered the best preserved building of Roman antiquity. His influence on the history of architecture, especially the modern times is enormous. The Pantheon consists of two main elements, a pronaos with a rectangular floor plan and facade of the temple in the north and a circular, domed central building in the south.

Built on the Campus Martius, it was originally a sanctuary dedicated to all the gods of Rome. It is still controversial which gods should be worshiped here exactly.

Since 13 May 609 the Pantheon serves as a Catholic church, dedicated to St. Mary ( Sancta Maria ad Martyrs ), the masses are celebrated, especially on high holidays. The church was on 23 July 1725 by Pope Benedict XIII. elevated to the title diakonia. Pope Pius XI. transferred this on May 26, 1929 Apollinare alle Terme Neroniane - Alessandrine.

The term pantheon is now also commonly applied to a building where prominent personalities are buried, which is due to the later use of the Roman pantheon. In addition, the term was also used in religious studies to designate the whole of the gods of a religion.

Architectural History

In the to be seen today, as Pantheon known construction is the successor of a temple, the Agrippa after his victory at Actium 27-25 BC in honor of his friend and promoter Augustus in the same place had built. This was already created a rotunda, which is about the same size and the same orientation as had the visible today successor. The building burned during a fire in the year 80 AD, the large parts of Rome struck, down and was restored under Emperor Domitian. The appearance of this Domitian's building is completely unknown. Only his floor level is obtained between the first and the present building.

In the year 110, the Pantheon burned again as a result of a lightning strike and required a full reconstruction. The research writes it traditionally the Emperor Hadrian and dated the construction of the building to be seen today on the years between 118 and 125 youngest, not yet thoroughly discussed research results can be due to a construction brick temples already 114-119 AD appear possible, ie, a construction still under Hadrian's predecessor Trajan. The architect is unknown; assignment to Apollodorus of Damascus is controversial.

How long has the Pantheon then used ritually, can not be determined exactly. By the beginning of the 5th century, under the Emperor Honorius, the temple operation must be permanently discontinued. The Eastern Roman Emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon in the year 608 the Pope Boniface IV On 13 May 609, the Pantheon was consecrated as Sancta Maria ad Martyrs to the memory of all martyrs church dedicated - this is the origin of the genocide committed since the year 835 the feast of All Saints. Later this became known as Santa Maria Rotonda. At an unknown date in post-ancient times two columns were replaced on the east side of the pronaos with columns from the Nero spas. When the Eastern Roman Emperor Constans II in 663 visited Rome, he left the gilded bronze plates with which the dome was covered, remove and create after Constantine Opel. They had to be replaced later.

1270 a bell tower was built above the pronaos. During the 15th and 16th century the square in front of the Pantheon has been cleared and leveled, so that today's Piazza della Rotonda was commissioned by several popes. Since the 16th century, the Pantheon was the Holy Sepulcher of important people, and later the Italian royal family. In the 17th century prompted Pope Urban VIII Barberini from the family of the removal of the bronze plates with which the roof of the pronaos was dressed, and had largely transform them into cannons, use but also partly for the ciborium of St Peter's it. The population of Rome then coined the saying Quod non fecerunt barbaric, fecerunt Barberini " What the barbarians did not make that managed the Barberini ". Instead of the bell tower from the 13th century was designed by Bernini Urban two towers on the east and west of the pronaos build. End of the 19th century, these were demolished.

Overall, the Pantheon is one of the most completely preserved buildings of ancient Rome, which is mainly due to its rather early conversion into a church.


The Pantheon of Agrippa

Agrippa left his building on the Campus Martius build on the site, which had previously belonged Pompey and Marcus Antonius. In the immediate vicinity were new construction projects planned and financed by him, such as Agrippa baths, or the Saepta Iulia, a large meeting hall, whose construction had already begun Caesar. The Pantheon of Agrippa took in its architectural form already largely anticipated the shape of the current building. It existed from the two main elements, the rectangular pronaos in the north and a round main building to the south. The older pronaos, on the remains of man / came in 1997 excavations carried out in 1892/1893 and 1996 was due to the same place as the successor of the building, was a bit wider. He had either a front or zehnsäulige but an eight- column position in antis. In the pronaos statues of Augustus and Agrippa were erected. In the rotunda was discovered during excavations on a circular wall that enclosed the same area, which also claimed the later rotunda. In contrast to Nachfolgerbau this part of the building, however, was not covered. It was a circular, open-air courtyard of about 44 m in diameter, surrounded by an approximately two meter high wall and paved with marble slabs ( pavonazzetto ). Cassius Dio recorded that here statues of gods ( he called Mars and Venus ) and a statue of Caesar were erected.

The Pantheon of Hadrian time

The forecourt

To the north of the Pantheon is now the Piazza della Rotonda with the set up there Egyptian obelisk. At the time of Hadrian the street level was 1.50 to 2.50 m below the present. To the north entrance of the building resulted in an approximately 60 × 120 m measuring, with travertine paved square was bordered at right angles to the west, north and east by colonnades. The halls were supported by columns of gray granite and were based on a series of five steps of marble ( giallo antico ). The pronaos of the Pantheon was connected to the west and to the east by ever a fountain basin prokennesischem marble with the colonnades. The two statues of river gods Tiber and the Nile, which are now set up on the Capitol Square, could have originally served here as fountain figures.

Due to the modern development of the area north of the Pantheon, the archaeological findings to the entire forecourt are quite sparse. Thus, for example, remain the exact location and appearance of the northern portico pure speculation, since no findings exist. A structure that was located in the center of the square, can no longer identify clear.

The pronaos

The rotunda in the north upstream pronaos gives the impression of a typical Roman podium temple. He has a rectangular, 33.10 × 15.50 meters measured floor plan and is accessible only from the northern side. While along today attracts a flight of three steps over almost the entire north side of the pronaos, this was originally only accessible via two each 7.30 meters wide staircases. The north façade is divided by a row of columns from eight unfluted Corinthian columns of gray granite from Egypt Mons Claudianus with column bases of marble. The inscription on the frieze, is mentioned in Agrippa, dates from the reign of Hadrian. A second inscription mentions a restoration of the building in the year 202 AD by the Emperor Septimius Severus and Caracalla. The overlying tympanum is empty today, but was probably decorated in ancient times by an eagle holding the Corona Civica in the clutches.

The interior of the pronaos is divided by four rows of two unfluted Corinthian columns into three aisles and is reminiscent of the typical Etruscan-Roman temple. The floor cover plates made of marble, granite and travertine that form simple circular and rectangular patterns. The two side aisles close to the south from, each with an apse, where presumably originally statues of Augustus and Agrippa were erected. The south wall of the pronaos is richly decorated with marble slabs and is divided by Corinthian pilasters, also of marble. The wooden beams of the roof were covered in antiquity with bronze plates. The nave, with a larger width than the aisles, ends with a 6 -meter-high bronze door in which it could be the re-used door from the construction of Agrippa. Through them, you enter the rotunda.

From the outside you can see that the gabled roof of the pronaos extends up to the height of the dome approach point. On the eastern and western facade of this interim construction architrave, frieze and cornices of the pronaos are continued until the starting point of the rotunda, the column position is continued by marble columns. At the regions that are higher than the pronaos, the construction of any traces of other incrustations and is divided only by two cornices and a tympanum.

The Rotunda

The most important Baubestandteil of the Pantheon is a vaulted rotunda of about 43 m inner diameter and height. The walls are largely constructed of brick walled with Opus caementitium and rest on a 7.50 m wide and 4.60 m deep ring of cast masonry as a foundation. The exterior of this rotunda is quite simple in design and is only classified by three cornices. Clearly visible are the semi-circular relieving arches made ​​of bricks, which are intended to reduce the enormous thrust of the dome. There are now found no traces that would indicate that the facade would have been dressed in ancient times with marble slabs.

The Rotunda provides a completely different sense of space than the pronaos. The typical structure of a rectangular Roman podium temple faces the circular, dominated by the huge dome interior, as he has no precedent in the Roman temple architecture. The original, rich furnishings of the interior with different colored stones from all parts of the Mediterranean region has been preserved in its main features to this day. The floor takes up the design in the pronaos on again and with a pattern of large squares and circles of porphyry, gray granite Giallo Antico and ( the coveted yellow marble from Simitthu ), which are framed by sheets of pavonazzetto, covered. The peripheral wall is divided into two zones decor. In the lower zone, the wall is divided by seven slots as well as the entrance portal. Only the barrel vault over the entrance and the dome of the Südnische cut a well in the upper wall zone. The niches have alternately a semicircular or rectangular in shape. They are framed by pillars with Corinthian capitals. Set in the niches are each two fluted Corinthian columns. Except in the Südnische are located in all three aedicules again. Here were statues in the ancient world may deservedly Romans erected from the Republican period. Also between the individual niches aedicules are again pre hidden. The matching parts of the lower wall decor zone are covered with a geometric pattern of circular and rectangular arrays of different colored rock. Towards the top, the lower zone closes with an ornate entablature. The incrustation of the overlying Attica zone is now no longer get the original, but could be reconstructed in a short section after drawings by Baldassare Peruzzi and Raphael. It was covered with a similar but more delicate pattern as the underlying zone.

The whole final, located on the building the huge dome. It has a diameter of approximately 43.45 m. Completed into a ball, it would lead about half a meter below the ground through. The Roman concrete (opus caementitium ) the dome was mixed with lightweight, volcanic tuff and pumice. Further weight savings, the dome is divided by five concentric rings of 28 per cartridge, with the cartridge of the individual rings are getting smaller towards the top. The breakdown by the cassette does not match the underlying wall, but slightly offset. Originally the dome was painted inside and each cassette was wearing a bronze and possibly gilded star or a rosette. At the apex of the dome is a circular opening, the oculus, nine meters in diameter, which is next to the entrance portal, the only source of light of the interior. To derive the thereby penetrating rain water, the bottom of the dome room is slightly inclined towards the center and is provided at strategic locations with small discharges. On the exterior wall is higher than in the interior below the dome, so that the dome - seen from the outside - is not a complete hemisphere. The outside is covered the dome with bronze plates, the ancient originals, however, are no longer obtain.


The name of the Pantheon, which is, however, detected only sparse for antiquity, already suggests a dedication to all or at least several gods. What deities should be worshiped exactly in the pantheon, but remains unclear. Within the sanctuary erected statues of gods are mentioned by Dio Cassius (53, 27), but notably, it only mentions Mars and Venus. One possibility would be to reconstruct the worship of all heavenly body or weekly gods, including Sol, Luna, Mercury, Jupiter and Saturn. It is also conceivable that Agrippa had planned a sanctuary for Augustus and his family, Julius, and their divine ancestors and patron saints. The mentioned by Cassius Dio line-up of a statue of Gaius Julius Caesar, Augustus ' vergöttlichtem adoptive father, in the sanctuary speaks of this. A similar system, the Nemrut Dagi, is known from the small Hellenistic kingdom of Commagene, but here in conjunction with royal burials. Cassius Dio reported on, Augustus had ordered that his statue should not be in the sanctuary, but outside, in the pronaos, situated. A divine worship of his person was still alive would hardly fit the image of the primus inter pares, which was propagated by Augustus himself.

A round, open courtyard, which is enclosed by a wall and is entered through a gatehouse rectangular plan, is already known as a sanctuary from the Roman architectural history from the period before Augustus. There seems to be doing to be a particularly venerable old Italian type of building, which is why Agrippa chose him for his monument. By attaching the temple-like pronaos and the unusual size, however, he gave it a monumentality that had not possessed comparable older plants. The same procedure to combine old Italian designs with precious materials or monumental proportions, is also found in other buildings from the time of Augustus, such as the Ara Pacis or the Mausoleum of Augustus.

As Hadrian, the Pantheon was reconstructed, he decided not to let his name attach to the building, but called in the inscription on the frieze of the pronaos Agrippa as builders. This corresponds entirely to the policy of Hadrian, who was able to direct his virtuous restraint. There is no reason to assume that the Hadrianic Pantheon not always fulfilled the same purpose as his Augustan predecessors. The design has been chosen for the domed central space is in the former temple architecture but no models. Wolfram Martini therefore put forward the theory, near the Pantheon of Hadrian it had originally not been for a religious building, but a Kaiser auditorium, an audience and court room as part of an Imperial Forum. He draws parallels to this domed halls of the Imperial Palace architecture, such as the Domus Aurea of Nero. Martini omits, however, to include the predecessor of Agrippa and its significance in his thesis with. The sky imaging ball dome, the oculus as an opening to the stars, whose light travels during the day on the dome, and the number seven, the wall niches is also indicated for the Hadrianic Pantheon point to use as a temple of the stellar deities. The Oculus is also in the new building are connected directly to the open sky, which had been an important element in Agrippa's Pantheon and the threatened loss through the establishment of the dome to go.

Use as a tomb

From the Renaissance the Pantheon has been used as a burial church. Major artistic personalities were buried here, including the painter Raphael (1483-1520), Perino del Vaga (1501-1547), Giovanni da Udine (1487-1564), Taddeo Zuccari (1529-1566) and Annibale Carracci (1560-1609), the architect Baldassare Peruzzi (1481-1536) and the composer Arcangelo Corelli ( 1653-1713 ). Raphael could be buried in an ancient Roman sarcophagus on which written by Pietro Bembo inscription was placed: Ille HIC EST RAPHAEL TIMUIT QUO SOSPITE VINCI / RERUM MAGNA parens ET MORI MORI DUCK " That here is Raphael. The mother of all things ( Nature ) feared when he lived to be defeated ( by him), when he died, (even ) to die. " Other people, such as Raphael's fiancée Maria Bibbiena or the heart of Cardinal Ercole Consalvi found their final resting place in the pantheon. After the unification of Italy the building then served as grave laying of the first two kings of Italy Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I.. Too, Margaret of Italy, wife of Umberto I, has its tomb in the Pantheon.


Even in ancient times created buildings that were based on the architecture of the pantheon, such as the built still under Hadrian Zeus - Asklepios temple in Pergamon. From the early modern period, his influence on the history of architecture then was particularly strong, as the Pantheon, the prototype for countless domes of the Renaissance was to the 19th century, such as Andrea Palladio's Villa La Rotonda in Vicenza, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Jules Hardouin Mans Arts Invalides and Jacques- Germain Soufflot church of Sainte -Geneviève (later Panthéon ), Paris, Friedrich Weinbrenner St. Stephen Church in Karlsruhe, Karl Friedrich Schinkel's Altes Museum in Berlin, Thomas Jefferson's Rotunda, the main building of the University of Virginia, and, indirectly, for William Thornton's Capitol in Washington (steel dome ). His strict space program has inspired the revolutionary architecture of the late 18th century. The plans by Albert Speer Great Hall has clear references to the Pantheon. The building was in addition to the namesake for other grave sites nationally significant persons, such as the already mentioned Panthéon in Paris, the Pantheon in Tbilisi or the pantheon of Spanish kings in the Escorial through future use as a burial church.

The Panthéon in Paris

The " Rotunda " at the University of Virginia

The dome of the rotunda at the Altes Museum in Berlin

Rotunda in Mosta, Malta

Interior of the Rotunda in Mosta

Kerek templom ( " Round Church " ) in Balatonfüred, Hungary

Dome with angels and saints, St. Peter 's Church ( Gesmold )


  • Dome inner diameter ( ⌀ ): 43,45 m
  • Dome shell thickness ( KSD): 1.35 m
  • KSD to ⌀: 1:32
  • Dome Material: Concrete ( Opus caementitium )
  • Floor plan: Rotunda
  • Ring wall thickness ( RD): 5.93 m
  • RD to ⌀: 1:7,3
  • Diameter Oculus (DO): 8.95 m
  • DO to ⌀: 1:4,9


The organ was built during the restoration work 1925-1933 by the organ builder Tamburini. The instrument has 8 Manual registers that can be registered on two manual divisions, and 2 pedal stops. The tracker action are electric.

  • Couplers: I / I ( Superoktavkoppel ), II / I (also known as Suboktavkoppel ), I / P, II / P



Entrance with bronze portal

Position ( red) on the Campus Martius in Rome


Dome with oculus

Inside wall

Light beam of the Oculus

Wall detail in the "spot light "