Pantheon and Giving Thanks

October 1, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
No way to tell for sure … figures run from 250 churches within the walls, to about 900 churches throughout greater Rome if you count deconsecrated ones as well. Tongue in cheek of course, it is said that they built a church on almost every corner of Rome so you could pray to cross the street safely … and then if you did manage to get across in one piece, you had another church close by in order to give thanks.

One of the many churches now, the Pantheon was originally built about the year 120 AD as a temple for all the gods. It was later turned into a church and became the burial place of honor for some great Italians, such as Raffaello. It also contains two of the Savoy kings and one queen from 19th and early 20th century Italy.

Today the Pantheon is officially called Santa Maria dei Martiri (St. Mary of the Martyrs). Inspiring Brunelleschi in his design of the dome in Florence and countless other domes throughout the world, the Pantheon is the oldest domed building in Rome and still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. The oculus, or opening is 8.2 meters (27 feet) in diameter is still the main source of lighting. Next time you’re in the area you have one more reason to enter … to give thanks for crossing the streets safely!

John Seybold

by John Seybold

History teacher in Madera, California. An aspiring tour book writer and photographer, blogger and Italian Notebook subscriber.

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