The Original Pantheon: Unveiling the Grandeur of Ancient Rome

The Pantheon: A Journey Through Time

In the heart of Rome, Italy, stands the majestic Pantheon, a testament to the architectural prowess of ancient Rome. This iconic structure, renowned for its awe-inspiring dome, has captivated the imaginations of visitors for centuries. But did you know that the Pantheon we see today is not the original structure? Join us as we delve into the fascinating history of the Pantheon, exploring the details of its first iteration, known as the Pantheon of Agrippa.

The Pantheon of Agrippa: A Legacy of Grandeur

The original Pantheon was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa, a close friend and son-in-law of the Roman Emperor Augustus. Constructed between 27 and 25 BC, it stood as a remarkable feat of engineering and architectural brilliance. Although the Pantheon we know today was built during the Trajanic-Hadrianic period, remnants of the original structure can still be discerned, offering glimpses into its grandeur.

Pantheon and Mausoleum of Augustus

The Pantheon of Agrippa was closely associated with the Mausoleum of Augustus, the final resting place of the Roman emperor. Located adjacent to the Pantheon, the mausoleum served as a monumental tomb for Augustus and his family. This proximity suggests a strong connection between the two structures, emphasizing the significance of the Pantheon as a place of honor and remembrance.

Pantheon and Forum of Augustus

The Pantheon also held a prominent position within the Forum of Augustus, a grand public square dedicated to the emperor. Situated at the heart of the forum, the Pantheon served as a focal point, drawing visitors with its imposing presence. This placement further underscores the importance of the Pantheon as a symbol of imperial power and prestige.

Original Roofing of Agrippa’s Pantheon

One of the most intriguing aspects of the original Pantheon is its roofing system. Unlike the current Pantheon’s iconic dome, the original structure featured a coffered concrete ceiling. This innovative design employed a series of sunken panels, or coffers, to reduce the weight of the roof and enhance its structural integrity. The coffered ceiling also served as a canvas for intricate decorations, adding to the Pantheon’s visual splendor.

Pantheon Caryatids

Another captivating feature of the original Pantheon was the use of caryatids, sculpted female figures that served as architectural supports. These statues, often depicted as draped women, adorned the interior of the Pantheon, adding an element of elegance and artistry to the structure. While the caryatids in the current Pantheon are replicas, they provide a glimpse into the decorative elements that graced the original building.

Cleopatra’s Pearl Earring

One of the most intriguing legends associated with the Pantheon involves Cleopatra, the famed Egyptian queen. According to the story, one of the pearls from Cleopatra’s earrings was dissolved in vinegar and used to create a luxurious purple dye for the Pantheon’s interior. While this tale adds a touch of intrigue to the Pantheon’s history, it remains a captivating anecdote that captures the imagination.


The Pantheon of Agrippa, the predecessor to the awe-inspiring structure we see today, holds a significant place in Roman history. Through careful examination of the current Pantheon and ancient sources, we can piece together details of this remarkable original structure. From its association with the Mausoleum of Augustus and the Forum of Augustus to its innovative roofing system and decorative elements, the Pantheon of Agrippa stands as a testament to the architectural brilliance and cultural significance of ancient Rome.