The Pantheon was significantly built at the confluence of two small streams, the Aqua Sallustiana and the Annis Petronia. Legend stated that near this area Palus Caprae (the mythical founder of Rome) was transformed into a Hero by Mars and taken into the Heavens. In 27BC Marcus Agrippa built a temple on this site. After suffering through two fires the temple was totally rebuilt by the Emperor Hadrian. You remember Hadrian don’t you? This is the same Hadrian who built the monuments in Athens. He really got around! When the temple was rebuilt Hadrian gave Agrippa written credit for the structure. The temple was dedicated as the Pantheon (Pan means All and Theo means God, therefore dedicated to all the Gods).
The front of the temple is a large columned square with six steps leading to the portico. As you go through the portico you enter the Great Hall itself. A huge dome shaped like a half-sphere tops the Hall. The dome has a radius and a height of 21 meters and was made from poured concrete. How did they ever get a cement mixer that high? It seems that I read somewhere that huge mounds of earth were packed around the top of the structure and the concrete was poured down into the forms. This dome stands today as an architectural miracle and was the model for the Jefferson Memorial and the dome at the top of St. Peters. Over the years the Pantheon has been restored several times. In AD202 Septimus Severus and Caracalla did a restoration. In AD608 the Emperor Foca gave the temple to Pope Boniface IV who dedicated it as a church to St. Mary of the Martyrs. Fifty years later Emperor Constantine stripped the dome of its beautiful bronze panels and left it up to Pope Gregorius III to replace the missing panels with lead sheeting. Pope Pius IX also did some major restoration in 1857. As previously mentioned the Great Hall is a large open circle with seven chapels and eight tabernacles surrounding the walls. These tabernacles presently house the bodies of King Umberto I, Victor Emanuel II, and that most famous of artists, Raphael.
Built by Nicolo Salvi in 1762 under commission of Clement XII, the Trevi Fountain is based on a design by Bernini. The water flows into the fountain from the ancient Aqua Vergine aqueduct. This also supplies water to the fountains in the Piazza Navona and the Piazza di Spagna. You may wonder what a Trevi is? Legend states that the fountain is named after a young maiden who directed the Roman soldiers to the original spring where they might drink. She is depicted in one of the bas-reliefs above the fountain. The huge fountain is 26 meters wide by 20 meters high. It depicts two large Tritons (Mermen) pulling a seashell serving as Neptune’s chariot. Legend states that anyone throwing a coin into the fountain will return to Rome. I can assuredly state that this works since I returned to Rome with my wife (yes, the same wife that would not go with me on this trip, but that’s another story) in the Fall of 1999. The next stop is The Vatican. Hope to see you there.
This is an excerpt from my book Fulfillment is a Place, a trip taken by my son and I to fulfill my desire to travel Europe. The book is .Available through Amazon Books