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It and its astonishing dome have stood for nearly 1900 years. The Pantheon is by far the best-preserved ancient Roman building.
Though its exterior has its merits, the interior can knock visitors off their feet (see photo). The colored marble walls and sculpting provide luxuriant decoration. And, if the word "grand" didn't exist, the dome would coin it.
The dome measures 42 meters (142 feet) in diameter - an amazing feat for 125 A.D.
It remained the world's largest dome for over 1400 years.
The Roman architects reduced its weight by using a revolutionary blend of concrete made with lightweight volcanic rocks. The exact recipe has been lost in time.
The dome has a large open-air hole at its top (see photo). It allows natural light to eye-pleasingly bathe the interior. Yes, rain occasionally enters.
The Pantheon was originally built in 25 BC, but was destroyed by fire in 80 AD. Roman Emperor Hadrian rebuilt it in 125 AD. He changed its defining shape from rectangular to circular. That design is essentially what we see today. Though some major details have been modified over the centuries.
In 609 A.D., the Pantheon was consecrated as a church, as it remains today. The illustrious Renaissance painter Raphael is interned here, along with two Italian kings.
Pantheon means "Temple of the Gods", referring to Roman deities. The name derives from the Greek words pan (all) and theo (god).
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