Chris is the history buff of this outfit, and one Christmas we had a toss up as to whether to take a mini break to Paris or to Rome. We were very grateful to have chosen Rome since we were there during the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks in Paris, rest their souls.
Chris has wanted to take me to Rome for a long time and we had 5 glorious days going to see the ancient sites like The Forum, Vatican City and The Colosseum. Rome is a stunningly beautiful city with so much to see and do, and a friend had said just before we went – ‘you must see the Pantheon’ 🏛.
Having already planned a very full schedule we thought we’d try and squeeze it in if we could. It’s not far from the Trevi Fountain ⛲️ which we had planned to see so we thought we’d stop by. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip. The streets between the fountain and the Pantheon were small, crowded and chaotic. We twisted and turned between people and beeping mopeds 🏍 and suddenly were standing in the Piazza della Rotonda, the city square with the Pantheon on the Southern side.
Now a Catholic Church, this originally was a Roman temple of all the ancient gods. It was built on the site of another temple that burned down, so nobody really knows how old it really is. It’s a beautiful sure with those iconic columns at the front and huge domed roof.
It wasn’t difficult to find a local guide, a lovely guy called Jobe who took us all around the outside of the building showing us things we’d never have seen otherwise, before going inside to admire the amazing interior.
One of the things it’s famous for is that when the Pantheon was built the only source of light was a great big hole 🕳 in the top of the dome, ‘the oculus’. An incredible feat of engineering, the opening measures about 8 metres across. Some call it ‘The Eye of the Pantheon’. What fascinated me was that when it rains, the whole building was engineered to direct rainwater to special drainage tiles in marble floor, so the rain was kept away from everyone inside, despite a 20foot hole in the roof.
Jobe told us that when it rains and very occasionally snows, the locals flock to the Pantheon to see this rare phenomenon. I guess it must have rained more when they built it.
Every archway inside contains a sculpture steeped in history and culture; Jobe showed us one of his favourites which depicts Jesus as a young child. He pointed out that very little artwork shows the young Jesus – it’s either him as a man or a baby. There was so much to take in in a relatively small space, but it’s an amazing place to visit.
Sometimes I like to sit and ruminate and take in the view after a trip like that, so Chris and I sat on one of the al fresco tables at a cafe overlooking the entrance, drinking in the view and the amazing coffee.
If you happen to be in the area and after a good ice-cream, stand in the square with your back to the Pantheon, take the street in the top right hand corner, walk about 100 yards and you will find the best gelato bar in Rome. Yums.