The Pantheon – L’Edizione Italiana
21st December 2011
Having had the definition of a Pantheon burned into my memory banks from my visit to Paris, I was expecting the Italian version to be somewhat similar. Wrong I was. Similar name, but very different place. The Italian Pantheon is best described by Wolverine in the original Xmen movie: “Well, it certainly is a big, round room”. And round it is. The sunlight entering moves around the interior wall throughout the day in a sun dial like action.
The centre-piece of the building is the Oculus in the roof of the dome. This and the main entrance doors are the only sources of light into the Pantheon. While I was staring up and admiring the craftsmanship, I marvelled at just how incredibly clear the glass in the Oculus was (I felt it safe to assume that perspex was not available 2,000 years ago). After all, ‘invisible glass’ had only been invented recently.
It was at this time that my audioguide spoke up and clarified that the Oculus is in fact open to atmosphere. A hole in the middle of the roof… Priceless history sitting underneath… It seems to just work. During light rain, water droplets can evaporate before they reach the ground due to the heat generated inside (the faithful would attribute this to the powers that be). During heavy rain, the floor is gently sloped to run water away to drains underneath the floor.
The other notable aspect is that entry is free of charge; a relative rarity for an attraction of this stature, especially as many regard this as the top spot in Rome. Just mosey on up and walk in through those large bronze doors.