Archive for the ‘Temple’ Category

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Architect: Apollodorus of Damascus

Location: Rome, Italy.

Date: 118-126

Building Type: Temple

Architecture Styles: Roman, Classical

Architectural Time Period: 0-700s

Construction Type: Bearing Masonry

Context: Urban

Introduction(Information mainly based on Internet and Readings

Pantheon is a building in Rome, Italy, commissioned by Marcus Agrippa as a temple to all the gods of Ancient Rome, and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian in about 126 AD.The temple is circular with a portico of large granite Corinthian columns (eight in the first rank and two groups of four behind) under a pediment. A rectangular vestibule links the porch to the rotunda, which is under a coffered, concrete dome, with a central opening (oculus) to the sky. Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 metres (142 ft).

It is one of the best-preserved of all Roman buildings. It has been in continuous use throughout its history, and since the 7th century, the Pantheon has been used as a Roman Catholic church dedicated to “St. Mary and the Martyrs” but informally known as “Santa Maria della Rotonda.” The square in front of the Pantheon is called Piazza della Rotonda.

My own exploration:

Keywords: Portico&Logistic, Rotunda, Interior


We visited Pantheon through Piazza della Rotonda, the portico was the first part that caught into my eyes, the pediment was decorated with relief sculpture, probably of gilded bronze. Holes marking the location of clamps that held the sculpture suggest that its design was likely an eagle within a wreath; ribbons extended from the wreath into the corners of the pediment.

From the reading, I know that it took 732 construction workers over 3 years to construct the Pantheon because of its many features.The Pantheon’s porch was originally designed for monolithic granite columns with shafts 50 Roman feet tall, the substitution was probably a result of logistical difficulties at some stage in the construction. The grey granite columns that were actually used in the Pantheon’s pronaos were quarried in Egypt at Mons Claudianus in the eastern mountains. Each was 39 feet (12 m) tall, five feet (1.5 m) in diameter, and 60 tons in weight. These were dragged more than 100 km from the quarry to the river on wooden sledges. They were floated by barge down the Nile River when the water level was high during the spring floods, and then transferred to vessels to cross the Mediterranean Sea to the Roman port of Ostia. There, they were transferred back onto barges and pulled up the Tiber River to Rome.

After being unloaded near the Mausoleum of Augustus, the site of the Pantheon was still about 700 meters away. Thus, it was necessary to either drag them or to move them on rollers to the construction site. So in this case, it is really amazing that how great humans are!

Entrance of Pantheon with the large bronze doors,it is ancient but not the original one of the Pantheon. The current doors – manufactured too small for the door frames – have been there since about the 15th century.

The wooden stricture at the portico, the triangular wooden truss is brilliant because it is stable as geometry itself and does well for tension force


When I enter the temple, the top of the rotunda wall features a series of brick relieving arches, visible on the outside and built into the mass of the brickwork. The Pantheon is full of such devices – for example, there are relieving arches over the recesses inside – but all these arches were hidden by marble facing on the interior and possibly by stone revetment or stucco on the exterior.

The height to the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 43.3 meters (142 ft), so the whole interior would fit exactly within a cube (also, the interior could house a sphere 43.3 meters (142 ft) in diameter). These dimensions make more sense when expressed in ancient Roman units of measurement: The dome spans 150 Roman feet; the oculus is 30 Roman feet in diameter; the doorway is 40 Roman feet high. The Pantheon still holds the record for the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome. It is also substantially larger than earlier domes.

Though often drawn as a free-standing building, there was a building at its rear into which it abutted. While this building helped buttress the rotunda, there was no interior passage from one to the other.


the interior of the dome was possibly intended to symbolize the arched vault of the heavens. The oculus at the dome’s apex and the entry door are the only sources of light in the interior. Throughout the day, the light from the oculus moves around this space in a sort of reverse sundial effect. The oculus also serves as a cooling and ventilation method. During storms, a drainage system below the floor handles the rain that falls through the oculus.

Lighting and ventilation diagram

The lighting effect from the oculus

The dome features sunken panels, in five rings of twenty-eight. It gives a lot of depth to the roof and the space. This evenly spaced layout was difficult to achieve and, it is presumed, had symbolic meaning, either numerical, geometric, or lunar. In antiquity, the coffers may have contained bronze stars, rosettes, or other ornaments.

Circles and squares form the unifying theme of the interior design. The checkerboard floor pattern contrasts with the concentric circles of square coffers in the dome. Each zone of the interior, from floor to ceiling, is subdivided according to a different scheme. As a result, the interior decorative zones do not line up. The overall effect is immediate viewer orientation according to the major axis of the building, even though the cylindrical space topped by a hemispherical dome is inherently ambiguous. According to the reading, this discordance has not always been appreciated, and the attic level was redone according to Neoclassical taste in the 18th century.