“The oldest building in Rome with its original roof still intact is the Pantheon, rebuilt atop an older, fire-damaged temple by the emperor Hadrian around AD 125. When you see the Pantheon for the first time, your mind caves in,” (Doerr 57).
This picture was not the first time I saw the Pantheon; it was the second. The first time we happened upon it was during a night walk of some fountains in Rome, and the shock of unexpectedly being near the Pantheon left me without words. I walked underneath the columns, placing my palm upon one, upon its history.
“When you first see it, the Pantheon is about wonder. You walk through the gigantic doorway and your attention is sucked upward to a circle in the sky. A filtering haze floats inside; a column of light strikes through the oculus and leans against the floor. The space is both intimate and explosive: your humanity is not diminished in the least, and yet simultaneously the Pantheon forces you to pay attention to the fact that the world includes things far greater than yourself,” (Doerr 57-58).
The oculus is 27ft in diameter. Logically, you can read this number, but when you see a picture of it, the perceived scale of the oculus does not amaze you, leave you holding your breath, as it does when you are inside of the Pantheon. I knew the oculus would be 27ft in diameter, but I still was not expecting it to be so large.
It had rained earlier that day as I stood with my gaze fixed upward, through the oculus, to the heavens. The floor beneath the opening was hardly damp. Where did the rain go?
I didn’t want to leave the Pantheon. I could have stayed there all day (as with all of the places we went in Italy) and been content with the space revealing new parts of itself and my self to me.