The Original Pantheon, in Rome, was built by Marcus Agrippa in 27-25 BC but this burnt down in 80 AD and was later replaced by Hadrian in 125 AD. Hadrian is himself credited with designing the building. The Pantheon was built as a temple and in 608-615, the Byzantine Emperor Phocas gave it over to Pope Boniface IV and the building was consecrated as a Christian Church. The name Pantheon comes from the words “All Gods” to whom the Pantheon was dedicated, as a Christian Church it is dedicated to Our Lady and all the Martyrs, so continuing the theme. The concrete Dome of the Pantheon still remains, after 2,000 years. the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. It is one of the best preserved of all the Roman buildings and has been in constant use throughout it’s history. In the 16th century Michelangelo came to study the dome before embarking on his work on the dome of St Peters. It is truely an amazing structure and has stood proud over two centuries. The bronze doors (which have replaced the former gold doors) weigh 20 tons each. The walls are 25 feet thick, it was the largest dome in the world until 1420-36 when Brunelleschi built his dome in Florence. Famous people who have been buried here include the Italian Kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I and the Renaissance painter Raphael.
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