Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Pantheon

Our class went to visit the Pantheon the other day. The pantheon is a roman catholic church that was originally a pagan temple for the gods of ancient Rome, and then was changed by the Romans in the 7th century. I had already been there and probably walk by it about 5 times a day, but I hadn't taken the time yet to learn about it and really check it out. When you approach the Pantheon, its massive size is very intimidating. It has huge pillars as you walk through the outside entrance, and when you walk in, its best to stop and just look around at amazing shape and detail of the architecture. It is the best preserved of all Roman buildings, and all buildings in the world of its age. It's also the oldest standing domed structure in Rome. The exact concrete composition that the Romans used in the dome is somewhat a mystery. If the concrete we use was today was used to construct an unreinforced dome of this size, it would barely be able to stand the load of its own weight. But the pantheon has been standing for hundreds of years, and one theory is because the concrete may have been applied in very small quantities and then was packed down after every application to remove excess water and trapped air bubbles. The most significant thing in the pantheon is probably the tomb of Raphael, a famous Italian artist and architect. Ironically, Raphael was born and died on Good Friday. He was buried in the Pantheon at his request.

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