Ok and here is your obligatory wiki facts: The Pantheon (Latin Pantheon, from Greek Πάνθειον Pantheon, meaning "Temple of all the gods") is a building in Rome which was originally built as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt circa 125 CE during Hadrian's reign. It is the best preserved of all Roman buildings, and perhaps the best preserved building of its age in the world. It has been in continuous use throughout its history. Since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Catholic church. The Pantheon is currently the oldest standing domed structure in Rome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).
Ok, me again. The reason why the Pantheon is the best preserved of all Roman buildings is because it was converted into a church so early. After Catholicism took root in Rome, the people basically used the other temples as quarries to snag marble for all their new churches (like the Colosseum). But since the Pantheon was made into a church relatively soon, it's intact and was never ripped apart.
Here's the entrance to the Pantheon, with bonus Kent-head! These bronze doors are HUGE and are original to the Medieval period.
Since it is the best preserved building in Rome, the Pantheon is one of the most influential pieces of Western architecture. Our own capitol building's dome is actually modelled on it. This picture was taken looking right up at the dome, which is open to the air. The center open portion is called the oculus, and almost acts as sundial.
Many famous people are buried in the Pantheon, but here is the tomb of the famous Renaissance artist, Raphael. We'll also talk about him some more when we get to the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. You probably know him best as a teenage mutant ninja turtle.
This is kind of cool. The woman in red in the foreground is sitting on the edge of the Pantheon. Through the thousands of years it has existed, Rome has essentially been built on the rubble of the buildings that preceded the current ones. In this picture you can see how high street level has risen since the Pantheon was constructed. It's a good six foot difference.
Next stop that day was the Trevi Fountain!
The Trevi Fountain (Italian: Fontana di Trevi) is the largest — standing 25.9 meters (85 feet) high and 19.8 meters (65 feet) wide — and most ambitious of the Baroque Fountains of Rome.
The backdrop for the fountain is the Palazzo Poli, given a new facade with a giant order of Corinthian pilasters that link the two main stories. Taming of the waters is the theme of the gigantic scheme that tumbles forward, mixing water and rockwork, and filling the small square. Tritons guide Oceanus' shell chariot, taming seahorses.
In the center is superimposed a robustly modelled triumphal arch. The center niche or exedra framing Oceanus has free-standing columns for maximal light-and-shade. In the niches flanking Oceanus, Abundance spills water from her urn and Salubrity holds a cup from which a snake drinks. The tritons and horses provide symmetrical balance, with the maximum contrast in their mood and poses.
The legend goes that if you throw a coin into the water at the base of the fountain, you will return to Rome. So of course we threw in some coins. At the end of each day, the coins are collected and donated to charity.
So the night before, our first night in Rome, we walked to the Trevi Fountain to see it at night (look for that pic in a future post) and since Chris had read about this famous gelato place in a guidebook, he dragged our asses around trying to find it for like 20 minutes. In the rain. Since we didn't find it that night, we made damn sure that we found it the next day. So here is Chris outside his gelato store.