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Let me start off by stating I have never been to the Pantheon in Rome.
The question I ask in the title is based around phenomenon...
I can understand how the Pantheon creates a sublime experience when sun is shining through the oculus, there are few people inside, and the sound is subtle.
However, has anyone been inside the Pantheon when your experience could be described as 'indifferent' or not special?
I'm not too sure where I'm going with this thought as any building can be ordinary when the phenomenon is not present. The Pantheon is always heralded as the holy grail of architecture, yet it's hard for me to believe the experience inside is always spectacular.
Sadly, my husband tells me we did go inside the Pantheon when we were in Rome 8 years ago. I have no memory of it. So clearly for me it was not spectacular.
But I do wonder if I've just seen soooo many photographs of it *looking* spectacular that I can't separate those photos from my real experience?
I do recall, vividly, how much the Colosseum scared and sickened me. It's like I could feel/smell/see the blood of all the people killed for sport in it. I couldn't wait to get out of there.
Beside the obvious sunlight shining through the oculus, I personally find the experience at Pantheon more fascinating having studied the building indepth, everything from its history, technological advancements, material use, construction methods to all the changes its been through.
1. you should really go to judge for yourself.
2. my personal experience is similar to access... the fact that it has stood for so long, the fact that someone figured out how to make that dome with an oculus out of those materials so long ago is what is thrilling to me.... it's more the history than how it is now... especially since it looks nothing like what it must have looked when initially completed with all of the stone stripped off the outside (similar to the Colosseum).
And it's formidable size: over 140' tall, you can fit a 10 story building inside it; the oculus is 30' across, a school bus could fit through it.
I haven't been there in 36 years, but I still remember it. Went there to sketch a couple of times, and just missed being in there during a rain storm (I really wanted to experience that). Since this past Friday I've been coordinating and generating lots of CAD data relative to the Pantheon, and just today I compiled a whole string of buildings (within Quondam's collection) that related to the Pantheon, and its quite interesting to see how the Pantheon paradigm has been interpreted/reenacted over the last sixty years. I'll post the plan images tomorrow.
I found it to be unspectacular, at least on the inside. In our time, with steel and such, the building just seems ordinary. Sure, for centuries it was an amazing feat of engineering, but without never having experienced a sports stadium, or the like, it's forgettable. The portico and doors, however, WERE memorable. I have never seen doors as large, rustic, robust, and beautiful as the doors on the pantheon. Same with the wooden beams in the ceiling outside. Those are things that we can't experience today.
Don't forget to sit in on a church service in the Pantheon.. The acoustics when the choir sing is unreal.
When you start learning about the Pantheon, you start being truly amazed. I sure wouldn't think the oculus was 30' wide standing below, or that its 140' tall, or about its complex filtration system to drain rain water on the floor or that it was linked to a public bath etc etc.
I have been to the Pantheon several times over the years. For me, it truly is a fascinating building and, given its age, a spectacular feat of design. However, it's not always fun being inside the building, especially a) when it's cold and rainy, or b) when the crush of the crowd makes experiencing the space a bit of a challenge.
It's impressive for what it is and when it was built, not to mention the detailing, especially inside. But it's easy to forget that. It doesn't take long to see. And, clearly, the hole in the roof is not effective at screening out the elements.
In that general area, it's much nicer to sit on the Spanish Steps with a gelato in hand on a comfortable summer evening and do some people watching. The world is in attendance.
Here are some diagrammatic images of the Arch of Constantine inside the Pantheon:
The human figures in the images is 5'9" tall.
A weird notion occurred to me while generating these images. It began to look as if the elevation of the Arch of Constantine matched the interior elevation of the Pantheon, as if the Arch of Constantine were like the Pantheon inside-out. I quickly checked to see what the interior of the Pantheon actually looks like, and, alas, the two elevations are different in several significant ways. Still, I might just 'construct' a model of the Pantheon interior using the Arch of Constantine as my guide.
Plus, here's a selection of 'modern' plans interpreting the Pantheon paradigm:
the Arch of Constantine inside the Pantheon inside the Eiffel Tower