One of the most recognisable sights in the world, Rome's Pantheon is a marvel of ancient architecture and the city's best preserved monument. The hulking greying exterior reveals the interior beauty of the world's largest unreinforced concrete dome, marble floors and Corinthian columns through the imposing Roman bronze doors.
Rebuilt by Emperor Hadrian around AD 120 on the site of an earlier pantheon (a temple dedicated to the ancient gods), the site was consecrated as a Christian church in AD 608 and also served as a burial chamber where you can view the tomb of the artist Raphael among other Roman luminaries.
While the history and influence this monument has exerted over art and culture for centuries is remarkable, the true beauty of the Pantheon lies in its immense structure and harmonious balance. It contains the largest unreinforced concrete dome ever built and is supported by amazing symmetry – the dome is 43.3m high and the same across. The balance gives the temple its sense of occasion and unity for which it is also claimed to be the world's only architecturally perfect building. Light enters the structure through the 8.7m oculus which served as a symbolic link between heaven and earth, and the 16 Corinthian columns are each made from a single block of stone and support a triangular pediment.
The Pantheon is still a working church today and known as the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Martyrs. Mass is celebrated on Saturdays at 5pm and on public holidays at 10.30am. Entry is free and audio guides and guided tours are also available. The nearest Metro stop is Barberini Fontana di Trevi on the A Line, which is about 700m and 14 minutes' walk from the Pantheon. Buses 30, 40, 62, 64, 81, 87 and 49 all service the Largo di Torre Argentina bus stop and then it's four minutes' walk down Via dei Cestari to the Pantheon.