A Glow From Above

by Lindsay Shapka in


The Pantheon Ceiling            Rome, Italy

The interior dome of the massive Pantheon in Rome is a staggering 143 feet in diameter, and has patterns cut into it that may have once contained gilded bronze rosettes or stars to mimic the night sky. The central opening, called an oculus, is 29 feet wide and lets the elements fall through to the marble floor below. Small holes in the floor, placed there by the original engineer, drain any water that falls. What most visitors don’t know is that there were once gilded bronze roof tiles inset into the remarkable ceiling. 

Unfortunately, they were looted and removed by an emperor from the Eastern/Byzantine Empire around 500CE and in the 17th century Pope Urban VIII had them melted down. He then gave some of the bronze to Bernini who created the baldaccino (canopy), that can be currently seen over the main alter in St Peter’s cathedral, and used the rest to have 80 cannons for Castel Sant’Angelo made.