Pantheon – a must see if you are in Rome. The oldest structure there, Pantheon’s foundations were laid in 27 BC. The structure was brought down and rebuilt by Hadrian in 120 AD, a design that the great emperor designed himself. A proof of exemplary Roman engineering, the structure stands strong and beautiful even today. It proved to be a study material for Brunelleschi and Michelangelo, before they built their own at Florence and Vatican.
As one walks into this, lips shape into an expression of ‘WOW’, eyes are left wide open scanning the statues in the decorated niches. Though most part of the interiors have been ripped off, a section of the monument (with twin grilled windows right of altar), still retains its old charm. The church houses the tombs of various famous artists and kings.
I stood there below that opening in the top, like millions of tourists and residents of Rome must have for centuries before me, admiring the circular piece of sky up there. Light flows in like a huge column scanning first the floor and then the statues and moves up and up till darkness sets in. It is an inlet for rainwater too. The floor slants towards the edges, and there are holes which allow easy drainage of the rain water, all this designed and made without modern tools centuries back.
The marble floor remade in 1873, but still has the original pattern of alternate squares and circles. No tickets required for entering, hence one of the most crowded monument I saw in Rome. In spite of all that chaos and excitement around, I think I enjoyed this place the most.