Thank goodness for America we don’t have magnificent monuments from ancient civilization around every ordinary corner. Why slave away when it’s all been done before? Maybe this is why I find Rome so relaxing. People come and go, lifetimes come and go, but Rome is eternal.
Thought I’d share my pictures of the Pantheon, best preserved of ancient Roman buildings, even though anyone that’s been to Rome has these pictures. I probably have the exact same pictures from my past trips in 1993 and 2000. But I have to take them again anyway. Every time I come here is a new revelation.
The Pantheon is 142 ft both in diameter and in height. The center oculus is 29 ft wide, an open skylight and an engineering marvel. Awesome in the true sense of the word.
The Pantheon became a Catholic church in the 7th century, which helped to preserve the building (though it didn’t keep Pope Urban VIII from taking the bronze from the Pantheon portico ceiling to melt down and use in Bernini’s massive baldacchino papal altar canopy in the Vatican). The Pantheon’s interior marble survives. In its day the Pantheon would have had colorful marble like this on its exterior as well.
I read that the huge columns of the Pantheon came from Egypt (then part of the Roman Empire), shipped down the Nile, across the Mediterranean and up the Tiber River.
Another view of the columns with the Piazza della Rotunda (love the sound of “rotunda”) beyond.
And one last shot of the dome from the Piazza della Minerva behind.
After a week of being inspired and humbled, I’m glad to be back in America, where we can toil away happily, unburdened by the shadows of such colossal past greatness.
For lovers of Rome, here’s a link to a fun talk by the brilliant illustrator David Macaulay about the creation process of his children’s book, Rome Antics, in which he takes the audience through his various ideas on how best to communicate on paper the multisensory experience that is Rome.
After watching Macaulay’s talk on my plane ride home, I ordered another one of his books, City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction. In Rome we saw some fantastic illustrated books imagining life in ancient Rome, but we figured we could get find them here. We were wrong! Darn. But at least I found the Pope John Paul II bobblehead online, and I’m excited to find Macaulay’s great book to read with the kids.