The Pantheon, situated in the heart of The Eternal City, is arguably one of Rome's most interesting monuments. Rebuilt nearly 1900 years ago under Hadrian rule, complete with a mysterious alignment to the sun and legends galore, what's not to love?
Pailing only in comparison to Athens' Parthenon, it's no wonder historians all over the world admire it to this day. Hadrian, as it turns out, had a total crush on the Greeks and their way of temples which explains a lot of the incredible architecture that makes up the Pantheon given that it was built 600 years after Athens' Parthenon.
Here are what I consider to be some of the most fascinating things about this ancient Pagan temple!
A Christian Church for Pagan Gods
Like most ancient structures that leave you in awe, they were pretty much all built for Pagan deities; The Pantheon is no exception. The massive Roman temple is easily the best of it's kind and was dedicated to all Gods and Goddesses. In fact, the name Pantheon comes from the Greek words pan, meaning "all," and theos, meaning "gods." It's still unclear which Gods were the main focus of the temple Pantheon, obviously the Roman deities all the way from Jupiter to Neptune; However, it's known that Hadrian was well-traveled and had an admiration for other spins on Paganism such as Greek and Egyptian spiritualities. Nonetheless, it remained a Pagan temple until around 7th century when Christians declared it a church. Fortunately for all of us today, this saved it from being destroyed in the Middle Ages and made it the first Pagan temple to be converted into a church. Today, the Pantheon also functions as a church dedicated to St. Mary of the Martyrs. Though, it's still a bit of a mystery how the Pantheon survived the barbarian raids centuries earlier when most of the city was destroyed. Jupiter, maybe?
16 Corinthian columns at a whopping 60 tons each, brought all the way from Egypt, were dragged more than 100 km to the River Nile, floated through the river during spring floods and then transferred to vessels to cross the Mediterranean Sea where they'd eventually end up in Ostia. After that, they were put back on barges and pulled on and on up the Tiber River where they landed on Hadrian's doorstep. These columns (which show just how far Hadrian would go for Greek architecture) support the triangle pediment which reads "M•AGRIPPA•L•F•COS•TERTIUM•FECIT" meaning “It was built by Marcos Agrippa in his third consulate.” Hadrian included this as a tribute to the original builder, Agrippa. It's agreed that the Pantheon is at least 1900 years old, but there were actually two structures there previously. The first Pantheon was built by Agrippa in 25 BC only to be destroyed by a fire years later in 80 AD. After that, a second Pantheon was built by Emperor Domitian, but it was struck by lightning and burned down. Some luck, right?
They also knew a thing or two about celestial alignments