The interior of the Pantheon is all about the magnificent roof. At 43.3m in diameter (which exactly matches the interior height, giving the building it’s wonderful balance and symmetry) it is the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built. In fact until the 15th Century it was the largest dome anywhere in the world, only surpassed by the massive cupola of the Duomo in Florence.
At the centre of the dome is an 8.7m wide oculus, which serves a number of purposes. The most important of which is the vital structural role it plays in re-distributing the huge tensile forces caused by the unsupported dome. Second it creates a symbolic connection between the temple/church and the Gods/heaven. Finally it creates a very physical connection between the worshippers and the elements, most notably by flooding the central rotunda with amazing light (even on a cloudy day) but also of course by letting in the rain…which fortunately we didn’t encounter on the day we visited.
The interior of the Pantheon is hugely impressive and it is little wonder that it’s considered ancient Rome’s most important architectural achievement and has subsequently proved one of the most influential buildings ever constructed.
© Mark Simms Photography (2019)