A few weeks ago, I spoke to Frank Cunha III about the architecture of the Pantheon and St. Peter’s Basilica. In our interview about traditional architecture, Frank and I talked about the history of the Pantheon. We also talked about how the Pantheon was built. We also discussed some of the changes made to the Pantheon, such as when it was converted into a church. So, check out the snippet below to get a glimpse at our discussion.
Architecture of the Dome of the Pantheon
The dome of the Pantheon is 142 ft in diameter. To put that in perspective, the U. S Capitals dome is 96 ft in diameter. The Pantheon’s dome is the only one standing today that isn’t reinforced. Roman architecture in many ways outpaced much of what we can do today. We could not build a dome today that isn’t reinforced.
How did the Romans support the dome of the Pantheon? They supported the Pantheon’s dome with the Roman’s incredibly strong concrete. The reason why it’s so strong is because the Romans used volcanic ash in the concrete. The strength of Roman concrete is what makes it so strong. Even though it looks like a dome on the inside, the Romans used rings that resembled Lego pieces. This adds to the strength of the dome.
Another interesting aspect is the Greek element of the colonnade, which unites the design of Pantheon to it’s Greek inspiration. However, they departed from Greek architecture by going with a circular dome, which is different from what you’d find in Greece. So, the Romans borrowed from Greek architecture for inspiration, but still had a unique Roman architecture. It was actually a great example of cultural appropriation – which isn’t a bad thing. By stealing from the designs of Greek temples, the Romans were able to build within a tradition.