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THE PANTHEON The word Pantheon can be found in almost every dictionary published Most assign it the definition of temple dedicated to all the gods Merriam-Websters noun is trivial when compared to Hadrians magnificent structure The Pantheon known to the locals as Santa Maria Della Rotunda is the union of a Greek temple front with a domed rotunda One year after Imperator Caesar Traianus Hadrianus Augustuss or Hadrian in English ascension to the throne in 118 AD he began construction on the Pantheon to replace Marcus Agrippas Pantheon of 27 AD destroyed twice by fire first in 80 AD and for a second time in 110 AD This public relations campaign dedicated to the twelve Olympian gods is one of the best preserved buildings of the Roman Empire the most influential domed design in antiquity and the most incredible display of concrete ever seen Not only did Hadrian earn the respect of the Empire but also the respect of every engineer and architect in the world to come The Pantheon consists of two main parts The first part is a temple front porch supported by sixteen monolithic Egyptian granite Corinthian columns with capitals and bases carved out of marble In the center aisle are four Corinthian columns made of reddish hued Egyptian granite The only entrance to the Pantheon is through the porch raised by five marble steps It is believed that it once had a pediment sculpture of a crowned eagle Those are the only classical elements in the Pantheon The ceiling of the portico was originally enclosed by barrel vault imitations sheltering three abbreviated aisles Before the mid 600s it bore bronze roof tiles until they were stolen by the Emperor Constantine II The second part the rotunda was more innovative than the facade The cylindrical drum was built level by level using concrete of varied composition Travertine the heaviest layer was mixed with concrete for the foundation The mix was modified
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