Continuing on the theme of my European ‘must visit’ places you won’t necessarily come across. Another big standout is The Pantheon in Rome. Use a map from your smart phone to find the hidden square, Piazza della Rotonda.
This place just happens to be the oldest free standing building in the world. It was constructed around 2000 years ago and is quite breathtaking. The building presents a real opportunity to view the distinctive architecture of the great Roman Empire. It was thought to have been built as a temple to worship pagan gods, then about 600AD it was turned into a church.
When you view the building from the outside it appears rectangular in shape now go inside and be amazed as the interior is completely round. Look up to its giant dome and its famous hole at the top, known as the eye. As the earth turned the light flows through the eye making the viewer aware of the magnificence of the cosmos. The dome would have been gilded to look like the heavenly sphere of the gods. Only at noon on an equinox (twice a year) does the sun shine through the eye. The dome is in perfect proportion, the distance from the floor to the top is exactly equal to it’s diameter.
The Pantheon was the greatest architectural and engineering achievement of its time, a building that would push modern day architects. Trust me, it’s jaw dropping!
In front of The Pantheon is the beautiful, Fountain of the Pantheon, built in 1575.