National Geographic : 1957 Apr
470 + Sun and Rain Beat Through the Pantheon's Open Eye This temple to the gods of the seven planets was built by the Consul Agrippa in the first century B. C. (see inscription, opposite) and rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian following a fire. Now the Church of St. Mary of Martyrs, it is the tomb of Raphael and of united Italy's first two kings. Wagonloads of bones from the catacombs once rested there. SNoonday sun throws a fierce spotlight on the Pantheon floor. Despite apparent darkness, the windowless rotunda is amply lighted by its lofty, 30-foot eye. A sloping floor carries rainwater to drains. Walter Meayers Edwards, National Geographic Staff Ancient Rome's Best-+ Preserved Monument Is the Pantheon Use of concrete was virtually forgotten from the fall of Rome until the 18th century. Its secret was well known to the Romans, whose brilliant engineers developed concrete from volcanic deposits and used it for the frameworks of their many architectural triumphs. The Pantheon's builders used concrete along with brick in both walls and dome. The sloping roof now wears lead sheathing. Bronze plates that once adorned the structure were stripped away by Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family. He used them in the canopy over the high altar of St. Peter's and in cannon to pro tect the Castel Sant' Angelo (page 474). Romans remem ber the event thus: "Quod non fecerunt barbari,fecerunt Bar berini" (What the barbarians did not do, the Barberini did). Despite its losses, the Pan theon is still impressive for perfection of form and sense of restful space. Its height is exactly the diameter of the dome-142 feet. Farmers on weekdays gather around the obelisk-tipped foun tain, for the square is a prod uce exchange and an open-air hiring hall for field hands.