Oh, the things I get to do for a living….
Just back from a special mission in Italy. A top secret mission, naturally, as befits my incognito status. Nevertheless, I can share that I ate well, saw lots and have, thanks for my low resistance to inflight germs, been sick ever since.
But it was worth it all.
Even if I only ever got to see the Pantheon.
Yes, I know I raved about Sagrada Familia in Barcelona in the past. But I`m afraid Rome`s Pantheon has just knocked that off my top building list. How on earth someone would think that it would be a great idea to construct an elaborate building with a big hole in the top? Luckily for us all, someone did.
The hole is nine metres wide and at the top of the dome’s interior. The dome itself is 43.30 metres high and supported by a six metre wide cylindrical wall. It is the only source of light in the building. Sunlight enters through this dome and reflects all around the beautifully marbled interior creating a wonderful play of light and colour within.
Of course, it was raining for most of the time I was in Rome. And it rained on the morning I went to see the Pantheon. It even rained while I dallied over a cappuchino as I studied my Rome guidebook.
And then I read that actually, a wet day is a better time to see the Pantheon because the rain enters the dome, through the oculus, in a dazzling display of light and water before running through drainage holes in the floor.
Oh, how exciting! I gulped down my cappuchino and legged it…
But, by the time I got there, the rain had stopped of course.
Still, I did get a pic of some of the drainage holes…
And I also noticed that the floor slopes slightly downwards to let the water run off along the edges of the marbled floor.
But do you know the most amazing part of the whole thing? This building is two thousand years old. It was first constructed by Marcus Agrippa a few years before the birth of Christ. And restructured under the rule of Hadrian around 120AD.
There are seven niches all around the interior with tombs to a few famous people, including King Vittor Emmanuelle 11, King Umberto 1, and the artist, Raphael.
While the word Pantheon means “all gods”,and the building was constructed to worship Roman gods, it was converted into a church in 609 AD. Every now and again, visiting tourists are reminded of this as an automated message in various languages and voices reminding us to be silent.
But I was stunned into silence anyway, by the ingenuity of it all.
My time in Rome was short and there was more to see. I lingered near the Pantheon however, in the hopes of more rain and the chance to sight a heaven sent shower teeming through the oculus.
But, in keeping with their fickle nature, the rain gods did not oblige.
So, I contented myself instead with a trip to the nearby Trevi Fountain. And there, the mere toss of a coin did the trick: I`ll be back.