Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Pantheon

You can certainly find out a lot about the Pantheon by Googling or reading history books and guidebooks, so I'm not going to gather that information and repeat it here. I'm hoping that a picture will be worth a thousand words or at least a few hundred. But I would like to pass on something that I heard while watching television. The reason the domed roof was able to cover that span and not come crashing down was because of very clever engineering. Each level of concrete in the dome was poured thinner than the previous level and in turn the concrete was adjusted to have more tuff (or tufa as it is called by Italians, a light weight volcanic rock) added to the mix, thus making it lighter. Even the textural element of the squares were included not only as a design element, but to allow for less material to be used.

The scale of the building is still impressive even though it has been encroached upon by other buildings over the centuries.It has an ancient almost mysterious air about it, perhaps prompted by its lack of windows. As you may already know, the interior is an active church. The series of chapels must be used individually, since the seating is divided amongst them. I do hope they clear out the tourists during mass as the crowds would be a serious distraction. I've had to fight my way into many churches to attend services, so I must still appear to be a tourist despite my efforts to blend in.

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