Pantheon Rome

The Pantheon is one of the Top 10 tourist attractions of Rome and one of the city’s best preserved monuments. Although it started its existence as a pagan temple dedicated to all the Gods it is at present a Catholic church and officially called Santa Maria ad Martyres. It has survived virtually unaltered since it was erected in the 2nd century AD. The structure of its domed interior is unique.

Pantheon Rome

Useful information

Opening hours: 8.30 AM till 7.30PM (Sundays: 9AM till 6PM; holidays: 9AM till 1PM). Closed: January 1, May, December 25. Admission: Free. Address: Piazza della Rotonda – 00186 Rome. Phone: +39 0668300230. Bus lines: 30, 46, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 87, 116, 119, 130F, 186, 190F, 492, 57 (stop: Largo Argentina).

Pantheon history and description

Facade Pantheon Rome

The facade of the Pantheon faces the south side of the Piazza della Rotonda.

The very first version of the Pantheon was constructed by Agrippa, in the year 27 BC. Agrippa was both the advisor and son-in-law of the Emperor Augustus. At the time it was only meant to be a temple dedicated to Mars and Venus, the protective Gods of the family Julius. At the time the entrance was on the southern side.

There is not much left of the original temple and Hadrian had to have it rebuilt (by the architect Apollodorus of Damascus) almost from scratch between the years 118 and 125 AD. The famous cupola stems from this period.

Hadrian was rather humble for an Emperor and, not being in the habit of having his name inscribed on the buildings he commissioned, he had Agrippa‘s put on the church’s facade.

The Emperor Severius ordered some restorations in the beginning of the 3rd century, but after that the Pantheon was more or less left to itself.

In 608 the Byzantine Emperor Foca donated the building to pope Bonifacius IV, who transformed it into the Santa Maria ad Marytres church.

In 1625 pope Urban VIII took the bronze parts of the Pantheon‘s portico and used them for the four columns supporting Bernini’s baldachino in Saint Peter’s Basilica and also for the 80 cannons of the Castel Sant’Angelo.

In 1870 the Pantheon became the official shrine of the Italian kingdom and Vittorio Emanuele II, Umberto I and Margherita di Savoia were buried in the monument. Another VIP having been laid to rest in the Pantheon is the artist Raphael.


The name signifies “Temple of all the Gods” and it was meant as Hadrian‘s gift to all the people of the Roman Empire.

The structure of the enormous dome is unique and has served as an inspiration for many famous architects. One of these is Giovanni Scalfarotto, who based the design of his San Simeone Piccolo Church in Venice on that of the Pantheon.

Highlights and Tourist Attractions Pantheon

Thanks to inscriptions on the bricks and walls of the Pantheon it has been relatively easy to understand who was responsible for which restorations and modifications of the building.

Monarchist volunteers protect the tombs of the kings Vittorio Emanuele II and Umberto I (and the latter’s wife), who are buried in the Pantheon.

The artist Raphael is also buried in the monument, as are Annibale Caracci and Baldassare Peruzzi.

The bas-reliefs on the tympan portray the war between the Gods and the Giants.

Melozzo da Forli painted the fresco L’Annunziazione in the first chapel on the right.

Tourist Attractions near the Pantheon

The fountain in front of the Pantheon was designed by Giacomo della Porta.

Address and opening hours

The address of the Pantheon is Piazza della Rotonda – 00186 Rome (tel. +39 0668300230). Bus lines: 30, 46, 62, 63, 64, 70, 81, 87, 116, 119, 130F, 186, 190F, 492, 57 (stop: Largo Argentina).

Piazza della Rotonda – Rome

Piazza della Minerva Rome

The Piazza della Minerva is located in the center of Rome, in the rione Pigna. It is named after the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, in its turn named after a temple built by Pompey and dedicated to Minerva Calcidica. Its biggest attraction is the Minerva Obelisk, also known as Bernini’s Elephant.

Piazza della Minerva Rome

Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini's Elephant in Rome
Santa Maria Sopra Minerva with Bernini’s Elephant

The Piazza della Minerva is indirectly named after the Minerva Calcidica Temple. The statue of Minerva that stood in this temple is now to be seen in the Vatican Museums.

One claim to fame the Piazza della Minerva has is that it is the lowest square in Rome and therefore always the first one to be flooded. 15th and 16th century inscriptions on the side of the Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church show how high the water rose.

The Santa Maria Sopra Minerva Church is the only Gothic church in Rome, although this is not directly visible in the exterior part of the building. Highlights in the church itself are a “Resurrected Christ” by Michelangelo and a fresco by Filippino Lippi.

The most important attraction on the square is the Minerva Obelisk, a statue of an elephant with an obelisk on its back, made by Bernini. In 1667 the obelisk was moved to its present spot from the Iseo Campense. Although the elephant was designed by Bernini, it was sculpted by Ercole Ferrata.

The building to the right of the church is the Palazzo Fonseca and since 1832 houses the Grand Hotel de la Minerve.

Directly across from the church the Palazzo dell’Accademia Ecclesiastica can be seen. Here the diplomats of the Vatican City obtain their training.

The writer Stendhal used to live on the Piazza della Minerva (n. 66) for a while.

From the square the back of the Pantheon with the ruins of the Baths of Agrippa can be seen. The baths were built between 27 and 25 BC and are the oldest of the city.

Address and public transport

The nearest bus stop is Argentina (lines 30, 40, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20, SHOP1).

Piazza della Minerva – Rome

Largo di Torre Argentina Rome

The Sacred Area at the Largo di Torre Argentina is a complex of ruins in the center of Rome. It lies several feet below the present street level and is especially known for its cat sanctuary. Continue reading “Largo di Torre Argentina Rome”

Palazzo Altieri

The Palazzo Altieri is a historical building in the Pigna district in the center of Rome.

Palazzo Altieri Rome

Address, opening times and admission

The address of the Palazzo Altieri is Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome, but the entrance is in the Via degli Astalli 19 (tel. +39 ). Bus: 30, 46, 62, 64, 70, 81, 87, 130F, 190F, 492, 628, 916, 916F, N5, N6, N7, N15, N20. Openingstimes and admission: The building is usually not open for visitors.

History and description

The building is named for the family who owned it, the Altieri. They also owned a number of other properties in the area, including several buildings that were later destroyed in order to be able to construct the Chiesa del Gesù.

Fresco in the Palazzo Altieri
Interior Palazzo Altieri

When Giambattista Altieri became cardinal (1643) he of course needed a residence in accordance with his new status and the architect Giovanni Antonio De Rossi was given the task to redesign the Piazza del Gesù.

An interesting detail is that one woman, a widow named Berta, refused to abandon her home and thus De Rossi came up with the idea to incorporate it into the new Palazzo Altieri. The two smaller windows used to belong to Berta‘s house.

When the Cardinal died and the building was completed (1655) it was smaller than it is now and the courtyard was not there yet.

In those days being a Cardinal ran in the family and in 1679 it was Giambattista‘s brother Emilio Altieri‘s turn. He had been appointed by Pope Clement IX, whose successor he became, as Clement X, only one year later.

Obviously Popes need bigger residencies than Cardinals and De Rossi was told to enlarge the palazzo. He kept the original façade but enlarged the structure itself to the right and to the back, also adding the courtyard.

Nowadays part of the Palazzo Altieri is owned by Associazione Bancaria Italiana and can only rarely be visited.

Piazza del Gesù, 49 – Rome

Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome

The Museo Nazionale di Palazzo Venezia (Palazzo Venezia National Museum) in Rome is housed in the building of the same name. Its collection mainly consists of late medieval art.

Continue reading “Palazzo Venezia Museum Rome”

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

The Museo della Crypta Balbi is located in a building between the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the Via Castani. The complex consists of two medieval buildings on the Via delle Botteghe Oscure and the “Dormitorio Barberiano” on the Via Caetini. It is one of the four seats of the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Crypta Balbi Museum Rome

Address, opening hours and admission

Address: Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome (tel. +39 06 6780167). Opening hours: 09.00 till 19.45. Closed: Monday, January 1, December 25. Admission: 10 Euros (EU citizens age 18-25: 5 Euros; any nationality age 0-17: free). Combi-ticket Palazzo Massimo, Palazzo Altemps, Crypta Balbi, Terme di Diocleziano: 12 Euros (discount: 6 Euros). There can be a surcharge of 3 Euros in case of special exhibitions.

History and desciption

The original connections and hallways between the buildings were kept intact.

Thanks to the archeological excavations that started in the 80’s and took about 20 years it has been possible to get a good idea of the different building methods through the centuries.

In the Roman times there was a big courtyard with a portico around it, which was connected to the Theater of Balbo. During the middle ages and the Renaissance this courtyard was transformed and became part of the 8th century Monastero di Santa Maria Domine Rose, the 11th century patricians’ houses  behind the walls of the Crypta and the 16th century Conservatorio di Santa Caterina dei Funari.

The ground floor of the museum shows the developments in the historical center of Rome, as understood from the excavations, while the 1st floor highlights Roman culture between the 5th and 10th centuries, by showcasing tools used by the artisans of the time.

Except for the artifacts found in the Crypt itself there are also objects found in the Fori Imperiali and on the Colle Oppio and Celio hills.

The important coin collection comprises the Gnecchi and the Vittorio Emanuele III collections.

Via delle Botteghe Oscure, 31 – Rome