Monday, May 03, 2010

Next Stop - the Pantheon by way of Piazza Colonna

Continuing down the Via Something or Other, which by the way has an interesting array of shops and restaurants whose proprietors were busily restocking for the day's business, is quite interesting. Except for the fact that we were never quite sure just exactly where we were, who is to care.  Getting  a bit lost this time, landed us in the Piazza Colonna to the discovery of  The Column of Marcus Aurelius. Oh my!

 The column’s shaft is 29.60 m (about 100 feet) high, on a 10 m high base, which in turn originally stood on a
3 m high platform - the column in total is 41.95 m. About 3 metres of the base have been below ground level since the 1589 restoration. The column consists of 27 or 28 blocks of  Carrara marble (the good stuff that Michelangelo used), each of 3.7 m diameter, hollowed out at the quarry for a stairway of 190-200 steps within the column up to a platform at the top. This stairway is illuminated through narrow slits into the relief.

Just look at the detail. It is so beautiful.

Finally, we arrive at the Piazza Della Rotonda. Many of these squares contain obelisks. This one is called the Obelisk of Ramesses.

This square is most famous for the Pantheon, which was originally built in 27 BC by Marcus Agrippa and reconstructed by Hadrian in the early 2nd century. The Pantheon is a perfect sphere, at 142 ft wide and 142 feet high, as is it's dome. Before the 20th century, this was the biggest pile of concrete ever constructed.

The oculus (latin for "eye") is an opening in the dome which is 30 feet in diameter and allows rain to enter. See the bird in the opening.

The Pantheon was originally a pagan temple but in 609, the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the building to Pope Boniface IV, who converted it into a Christian church and consecrated it to Sancta Maria an Martyres, now known as Santa Maria dei Martiri.
Here it is decorated for Palm Sunday services.



Raphael and Vittorio Emanuele II, king of Italy, and his successor, Umberto I, are buried in the Pantheon. It is a beautiful space, which we visited twice. The first time was in the morning and it was ever so peaceful. The second time was on the eve of Palm Sunday and while it was beautiful because a choir was singing, it was ever so crowded and the sense of space was lost.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Wonderful photos! I remember the Pantheon being so incredibly peaceful inside and amazing that it can be that old.