Photo Highlight: Oculus of the Pantheon

The oculus and dome of the Pantheon can be one of the most challenging objects to photograph in Rome because:
  1. the crowds in this building can make it difficult to get a steady and clear shot
  2. the light does not always accommodate

I took several shots of the dome and oculus, and I think that my photos came out OK, although a friend of mine said that they looked “fake” because of the way the light reflects.

It’s a pity that the bronze stars that once lined the recesses of the dome were to have housed bronze stars that presumably would have “lit up” when they were hit by the modest sources of light that would enter through the roof and front entrance of the church, almost certainly meant “to reproduce” the heavens. The bronze stars were melted down and used in construction the Castel Sant’Angelo. Statues of the Roman pantheon (gods) were also kept inside but presumably they were either melted down (if made of bronze) or canibalized for their marble. Bronze was a “hot commodity” during ancient times and well into the Renaissance and Baroque.

The currently church/basilica that we see today is not the “original” Pantheon but one of several that was rebuilt during ancient times. The one that we know of today is a remnant of the second century AD, probably conceived/built by the architects of emperor Trajan but finished during the reign of Hadrian.

The church houses the remains of Raphael, Annibale Carracci, the composer Arcangelo Corelli, and the architect Baldassare Peruzzi (designer of the Villa Farnesina). The Italian Kings, Vittorio Emmanuele II and Umberto I, are also buried there.

If you wish to learn more about this monument, check out the Wikipedia article.

The Pantheon is pretty easy to find and is well indicated in Rome (just follow the signs that direct you to all the famous monuments/sites in the city that are common in the city center). It is located along Via della Rotonda.