Posted by: debrakolkka | June 6, 2011

The Pantheon, my favourite place in Rome

The Pantheon is always the first place I head for when I go to Rome. I love it. I love the fact that it is 2,000 years old and still magnificent. I love the granite columns and the occulus and everything else. Last time I was in Rome it was covered in scaffolding, but it is back to normal now.

the entrance to the Pantheon

The Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to the gods. It was rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in 126 ad.

It still carries Agrippa’s name

The fountain in front of the Pantheon in the Piazza della Rotunda is impressive as well.

looking from the Piazza della Rotunda

The circular building has 16 granite Corinthian columns. The columns were quarried in Egypt. Each one is 12 metres tall, 1.5 metres in diameter and weighs 60 tons. They were dragged more than 100 kilometres from the quarry to the Nile where they were floated by barge to the Mediterranean and loaded onto ships and taken to Ostia, the port of Rome at the time, where they were once again loaded onto barges and towed up river to Rome and dragged a further 700 metres to the site. It makes me tired just thinking about it.


the very impressive, and well travelled columns


looking up

still looking good after all these years

In medieval times the Pantheon was consecrated as a church, which probably saved it from destruction. It has also served as a tomb. The painter Raphael is buried there , and Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I, among others.

When you walk inside your eyes are drawn upwards to the oculus in the dome above.

The hole in the roof casts light on different parts of the interior at different times of the day.

the light shines in

I have been here dozens of times and I see something new every time.

shining in the sun

If you are really lucky, there won’t be too many people inside when you go. A couple of times I have been almost alone inside – amazing.

the incredible interior


more of the beautiful interior


Take some time to wander around the space.

The dome is still the largest the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world.

The building would have been covered with white marble. Most of it has been spirited away over the centuries and used for other purposes – early vandalism.

very little of the marble remains

a few bits are left in place

Can you imagine what the building must have looked like when it was new?

it must have been incredibly beautiful

The building is spectacular at night.

the back of the Pantheon at night

The Piazza della Rotunda comes alive with music and people dining. It is a lot of fun and you get one of the best views in the world.

those amazing columns again

There are lots of restaurants to choose from here. They will be a bit more expensive than those in back streets, but you are paying for the view.

early evening

You can’t go inside at night, but that doesn’t matter, the exterior is breathtaking.

a bit later

Before you leave the area you have to go behind the Pantheon to the Piazza Minerva to see Bernini’s lovely little elepant. He is my next favourite thing in Rome.

Bernini’s elephant

While the little elephant doesn’t look entirely happy to be there, I am always happy to see him.

walk by and give him a pat

After seeing Bernini’s elephant walk to the nearby Caffe Sant Eustachio or Tazza d’Oro for the best coffee in Rome.

PS. 2018 update. Until recently it has been free to enter the Pantheon, but now there is a fee and it seems there is an ugly kiosk in the piazza where tickets are sold. What a pity! I don’t mind paying if it helps to maintain these magnificent buildings, but an ugly kiosk is wrong.


  1. Very nice!I agrre with you. Pantheon is a great opera build around an intelligent idea about gods and the respect must been them.

    • Grazie! Mi piace molto il Pantheon.

  2. It’s probably my fav place too, but always has scaffolding around it and far too many people inside.!

    • If you go early you almost have it to yourself. Europeans are generally not early risers. Go in winter.

  3. I love your tips, since I’ll be in Rome and Florence next fall. Thanks.

    • I hope you have a great time. Fall is a wonderful time to be in Italy.

  4. A magic space – once visited never forgotten – thirty plus years since I stood under that occulus (didn’t know its name then) and was capitvated. It was very empty the day I was there. Round buildings are my passion! Lovely to see your photos as always, thank you!

    • I think you need to go back for another look.

  5. I’m constantly impressed with your photos, Debra, such interesting angles each time you visit this beautiful place!
    The interior, especially the occulus in the dome, took my breath away. I once had to draw the Pantheon as a high school art project and it was truly a challenge to sketch the interior right. To see the real thing was a thousand times better. I can well understand why this is one of your favourite places in Rome.

    • It is an incredible sight. How did they build this without modern equipment?

  6. Hi again, Deb, what’s the story with Bernini’s elephant? Why is it carrying the obelisk?

    • I don’t know that. I will have to do a bit of research.

    • There is a great traditional story behind (future pun intended) that elephant. The nunnery located in the plaza commissioned Bernini to to create a glorious obelisk holder. Throughout the course of the design, the Abbess was apparently a nag. Finally, Bernini decided that he was the famous Bernini and created this elephant to represent the fat Abbess. The alignment of the elephant is important too. Bernini made a big point about the positioning, saying it HAD to sit the way it sits now. — So now, if you notice, to this day, when the sisters walk out of the nunnery, they are confronted with the ass end of the elephant AND its oversized…um…man parts.

      –Another fun fact: The Pantheon doesn’t just bear Agrippa’s name. That “FECIT” at the end means “made it.” Not “made this” or “made the Pantheon,” simply “made it.”

      • I love this elephant and I love your story. It seems Bernini had a sense of humor. The elephant is currently being given an overhaul and is covered with scaffolding. I hope he is uncovered by the time I go back in February. Now trip to Rome is complete without a visit to see him. Thank you for the wonderful information.

  7. this is one of my favorite areas in all of Rome also. it was so funny the 1st time i went to Rome. it just started to sprinkle as i was in front of the Panthenon and all of the sudden about 40 people came out of no-where selling these little colorful unbrellas for 2-4 euros…
    that is what i love about Rome. You never know what is going to happen. so much fun!!!!fun!!!!fun…i just love all of italy but Rome is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world. just something you can’t explain to someone if they have never been. CIAO…

  8. I love the Pantheon! On our first visit to Rome we stayed right there and had a perfect view from our room. I’m a Tazza D’Oro coffee fan though!

    • The Pantheon is spectacular, lucky you. Where is Tazza D’Oro?

  9. Great pictures of a truly great place. Have only just come back and can’t wait to go again!

    • You can never get enough of the Pantheon.

  10. The history of these kinds of buildings just takes my breath away. I look forward to the day when I can see them with my kids.

    • What fun to show your boys all these wonderful things.

  11. Your description and pics are wonderful Deb.
    Thanks for sharing them. I oftern go to the Pantheon and just wonder around inside. As you say, you see something new all the time.

    • Thank you. Lucky you to be there often. I have been maybe 20 times – not enough.

  12. I always marvel at the history in Europe and how buildings like these are still standing and in relatively good condition despite the years.

    • I find it incredible that you can walk on a road that the Roman emperors once walked on.

  13. It is also one of our favourite places in Rome. Rafael, as an architect, does not stop admiring it. As you say, fortunately, the fact of becoming a Catholic church (St Mary of the Martyrs, better known as Santa Maria Rotonda) saved if from destruction. It has been quite “normal” en Europe to use elements from old buildings for the construction of new ones and the Pantheon was not spared from that. Quite a few elements were removed by the Barberini Pope and the Romans created a special motto for them: “What the Barbarians did not do to Rome, the Barberinis did”.

    • I am so glad it is still standing even though it has bits missing.

  14. Thank you so very much for the spectacular photos, fantastic, fantastic, fantastic!!! When I lived in Rome I spent many a summer day inside the Pantheon with book in hand while escaping the heat… Again, thank you for the wonderful photos, I was brought back to Roma!!!

    • It is always a pleasure to visit the Pantheon. I like looking at the photos too.

  15. Wonderful photography! Would you please advise what month and year you took the pictures? Thank you.

    • I took the photos this year in mid May – a great time to be in Italy.

  16. […] always swing by the Pantheon because I love it. Click here to see more on this incredible building.  part of the fountain in front of the Pantheon one the […]

  17. nice photos, beautiful place

    • It is an incredible place. Could you get a bad photo here?

  18. Yes me to. It just pulls me toward it everytime I am in Rome. I have probably been inside thirty plus times and I never tire of it

    • There is something new to discover each time when you enter the Pantheon, but I just love walking in through those hugh doors and looking up.

  19. […] II if you go to Rome. You will love the view from the top.  Vittorio Emanuele II   Click here to see the Pantheon, my favourite place in Rome and here to see the fabulous Trevi Fountain.  […]

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  21. Great photos!

  22. […] just a hop, skip and a jump from Tazza d’Oro, and once again I had it almost to myself. Click here for more on the fabulous […]

  23. I’m going on Monday! Making a list of all your recommendations.

    • Have a great time.

      • Thank you. It’s a total surprise to the person I’m taking. I’m telling them on the day we fly! So all the planning is up to me and it’s very exciting.

      • Lucky person! I went to an area above Rome called Gianicolo, which offers fabulous view over the city. I haven’t done a post about it yet.

      • It’s on my list to visit. Have you been to Lake Nemi, south of Rome?

      • No, I have not been there. If you are going you can report on it.

  24. […] To find out more about my favourite building in Rome click here. […]

  25. Maravilloso! I’ve been to Rome once, that was 12 years ago. I asked God already to grant me the privilege to go back and visit.

    • Head straight for the Pantheon if you go back to Rome.

  26. The Panteon is great, but my favorite place in Rome is Villa Borgese with its wonderful interior and statues by Bernini and Canova.

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