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We returned to one of my favorite buildings in Rome in the futile hope that I could take some pictures without a mob scene of tourists.  It's just too popular an attraction though. 




The Piazza della Rotonda from the entrance to the Pantheon.  The fountain was built in 1575, long after the Pantheon was converted to a Christian church in the 7th century AD.  The ancient Egyptian obelisk was added to the fountain in 1711.





The Pantheon was originally built by Marcus Agrippa (whose name adorns the facade) in 27 BC.  It was totally rebuilt by the emperor Hadrian in 126 AD.  Originally built as a temple to all gods, it was converted to a Christian church in the early 7th century AD dedicated to Mary and all the martyrs.





The original doors of bronze are still on the building.  They were once covered with gold which was removed for other uses.  They weigh 20 tons each yet still swing quite smoothly on the original hinges.  The exterior walls of the Pantheon are 25 feet thick.





After a half hour, I gave up on getting a picture of one of the doors without a pedestrian in the way.





Individual tombs and memorials are placed around the circumference inside. There are two kings of Italy, two famous painters, and other less well known dignitaries entombed in the Pantheon.





The most magnificent attraction of the Pantheon is the ceiling, a perfect hemisphere 142 feet in diameter.  It is made of concrete with no reinforcing inside or out.  The story of it's construction is fascinating.  Once the walls were completed, the building was filled with sand.  The sand was then heaped up to form the mold for the roof and ceiling.  The indentations for the coffers were made from wooden forms.  Then the concrete was poured in a monolithic pour.  To perform this in an age where concrete was mixed with buckets and wheelbarrows boggles the mind.  Once the roof set, the problem of removing the sand had already been solved.  The construction supervisors had salted the sand with gold coins and made the fact known to the public.  The doors were opened and the Roman citizenry attacked the sand, removing it to find an occasional gold coin.  In short order, the sand was all removed and work proceeded.  The only light source for the building is the 27 foot diameter open oculus at the top.  Rain comes through just like sunshine but the floors are gently sloped to drain it off rapidly.  One of my fondest wishes is to be in the Pantheon during a rain storm.  I understand the column of water is a sight to behold.





The main altar is opposite the entrance and is used daily for Mass.





The apse is decorated with a mosaic of crosses on a gold background.  The small framed icon above the altar is a rare 7th century original.





The tomb of the Renaissance painter Raphael.  Art lovers continue to supply decorations to his grave.  His sarcophagus is visible at the base of the monument.




The exterior has seen better days.  The roof was sheathed in bronze.  The bronze was later stripped off and melted down to make cannon for the defense of Castel Sant'Angelo and the columns for the Baldaccino of St. Peter's Basilica..





I call this picture The Fall of the Roman Empire.  These bozos are ubiquitous around most of the tourist attractions in Rome.  The Church does a fair job of keeping them off Extraterritorial Vatican property but the city of Rome can only try to keep them down to a manageable number.  Their routine is to chat up tourists and offer to let the tourists take pictures of each other standing next to one of these "Roman soldiers."  Once the picture is snapped, the tourist is handed an often outrageous bill for posing services.  Some of them get downright comical like these two.  Trousers under the costume on left and those moth-eaten leggings on the one with the biggest beer belly on the right.  The horse-drawn carriages is another familiar site on the tourist circuit.