Our original plan on our second day in Rome had been to go to the Colosseum. But we overslept and by the time we got there the crowds were huge and we ended up being accosted by more tour guide people wanting to charge us extortionate prices for the tour. No thanks. So we decided that the Colosseum would be done the next day, that we would get up early to avoid the crowds, and off we headed to the Pantheon!
It has long been a dream of mine to see the Pantheon. I honestly think it is one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire world. So, as we got off the metro at Battistini and began to walk towards the Piazza de Rotunda, I could feel my excitement growing.
First of all however, due to the insane heat (seriously, it was around 40 degrees every day we were there!), we decided to swing into the nearest gelataria and get ourselves some famous Italian gelato.
It seems that the place we had chosen was actually quite a posh place. I was expecting it to come in a little cardboard pot or something. But nope, posh glass bowl and biscuit was the order of the day. It ended up being quite expensive, but it was tasty. The one I had was made up with Nutella!
Following this we began our search for the Pantheon, and got ourselves rather confused. However, thanks to actually looking up directions on the net the night before we knew that it wasn’t all that far from the Trevi fountain. We wanted to see the Fountain anyway, and realised it would be easier to find the Pantheon if we found the fountain first. And when we rounded a corner, and saw not only a massive crowd but quite possibly the world’s most beautiful fountain, I was blown away…
The history of the Trevi fountain is really quite interesting, as the beautiful carvings we see today weren’t finished until 1762! However there has been a fountain in the area since around 19BC. It is actually the decoration of a termination of the Virgo Aqueduct and was created by Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa. It was however in the Fifteenth Century that Pope Nicholas V ordered that a new fountain be built there, which was the beginnings of the beautiful monument we see today.
Of course while we were there we had to have some pictures taken in front of it, and I did the whole throwing a coin over my shoulder and making a wish. I’m not going to tell you what I wished for though…
Once we were finished at the Fountain we made a slow bimble down the side streets towards the Piazza de Rotunda. There weren’t too many people down the little streets when we were there thankfully so it gave me the chance to take some pictures.
And then, as we dodged various restaurant people trying to get us to eat in their establishments, we entered the Piazza de Rotunda….and there it was.
The Pantheon is the oldest and most preserved Roman building in the entire city. And it is totally breathtaking. We stood out the front gazing up at it for such a long time before actually going inside. I couldn’t believe for a moment that I was stood there.
The Pantheon that we see today is actually a replacement built by Emperor Hadrian between AD 118-125. The original Pantheon, built in 27 BC by Marcus Aggripus, burnt to the ground in around AD 80. In fact the Latin inscription above the entrance is still the original dedication to Marcus Agrippus and reads: “Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”. Nowhere on the building we see today, has Hadrian’s name written on it.
Today, the Pantheon is used as a Church (and a tourist attraction, obviously) but back in the day it would have been a temple to the Roman Gods. It has been used as a church since around AD 608 when it was given to Pope Boniface VIII.
Inside, it just gets even more breathtaking.
The dome, with it’s occulus completely blew me away and I took so many pictures of it. Reading up on how it is built is so interesting too, although going into the architecture of the place would end up needing a post or five all of their own. However, the dome is made up of a series of interconnecting arches which rest on a series of 8 pillars which consequently correspond to the bays at the floor level which house the statues. As I said, the architecture of this beautiful place involves a blog post all of it’s own so I won’t go into any more detail of it here.
There was one particular place in the Pantheon that made me flail a little (*cough* a lot) and that was the tomb of the quite frankly awesome Raphael! Yep, Raphael the famous Renaissance painter guy who did all that painting in the Vatican.
Raphael has to be one of my favourite Renaissance artists, second only to Leonardo Da Vinci so it was a big moment for me to stand in front of his tomb.
Back outside in the Piazza is a rather beautiful fountain, the water of which is lovely and cold! Of course I didn’t totally put my hands in there to cool off……..Anyway, a lovely lady offered to take a photo of me and my partner whilst we were there, and the picture is lovely. He has asked me not to put said picture up on the blog though. So have some pictures of the fountain in question instead.
And that was that. We had agreed to make this day a bit easier, considering as how we had exhausted ourselves the day before, so we took a slow bimble back towards the metro, stopping off for some lunch in a restaurant down one of the high streets. This was probably the biggest mistake of the day…as it was so close to the Pantheon, they obviously thought they could get away with charging through the roof for stuff. Ok, so the food was priced as to what we expected (9 euros for a pizza, still a bit steep), but when we got the bill we realised that we had probably had the most expensive cans of diet coke in the entire city. €3.50!!!!!
After finishing our lunch we headed back for the metro via some of the shops in the side streets where I picked up a bottle of limoncello. As we were almost back at the station, I noticed a bar which my seventeenth century self flailed a lot over…
That Samuel Pepys gets everywhere!!!