April 04, 2015

"D" is for Dome

It's a thrill to stand beneath the round coffered ceiling of the Pantheon in Rome. I gazed up at the sky through the open central skylight as others have done for 2,000 years. (For the inevitable rainy days there are drainage holes in the floor beneath the opening.) And until the Renaissance the Pantheon had the largest dome in the world. 



The Pantheon, Rome



Central Skylight, or Oculus, in the Pantheon Dome


This dome was so amazing that Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi came to Rome centuries later and got permission to cut into the Pantheon's dome to study its structure. The spot where Brunelleschi cut can still be seen.



Brunelleschi's Cut in the Pantheon Dome


He returned to the city of Florence where the cathedral had a gap in its ceiling – no one at the time knew how to bridge such an large expanse. Inspired by what he'd learned at the Pantheon, Brunelleschi covered the opening. Santa Maria del Fiore with its distinctive red dome is now known as Il Duomo.



Santa Maria del Fiori, Florence


The Pantheon also inspired another great Renaissance dome, that of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. This was Michelangelo's last project and is now the largest dome in the world.



The Dome of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City


Interior of Michelangelo's Dome


The creative inspiration that began at the Pantheon in Rome continued on to influence more domes at St. Paul's Cathedral in London and the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. – not bad for an idea 2,000 years old.

Next:  "E" is for Eruption

19 comments:

  1. Lovely photos, especially the one of St. Peter's dome.

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  2. Some day I want to go to Rome. Been to Italy but didn't make it to Rome. One day... Thanks for sharing this on the A to Z! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. I actually prefer some of the smaller towns in Italy but Rome has some magnificent sights. I hope you make it to the Eternal City one day!

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  3. I would love to see the Pantheon. I imagine I'd get chills.

    Those pictures are amazing!


    -Chrys Fey
    Tremp’s Troops - A to Z Co-co-host
    Write with Fey

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    1. Thanks, Chrys. There is something special about the Pantheon. I don't know if it's the architecture or the history – probably both!

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  4. Thank you for reminding us to Look Up!!!

    Beth
    BethLapinsAtoZblog.wordpress.com

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    1. And that can be tricky at times with the bumpy cobblestone streets in Europe. But there's something to see all around you.

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  5. Thank you for reminding up to Look Up!
    Beth
    Beth@BethLapin.com

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  6. Lovely photostory! You have captured the dome and the architecture very well.

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  7. Perfect angle to take this shot. I was impressed that this structure is still standing in such good shape with the dome opening.

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    1. Thanks, Rhonda. The Romans really knew what they were doing, didn't they?

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  8. Wow! These are beautiful. It's been my dream for as long as I can remember to make it to Italy to soak up the history and culture. Here's hoping!
    Brandy from Brandy's Bustlings

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    1. Thank you. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you!

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  9. Ahh the Pantheon. On my very first trip to Rome, my hotel was no more than 100 yards from that stunning domed building. I saw it every day and probably went in it every day, and yet, never saw the cut. I'll have a look next time I'm there and impress my companions with my knowledge.

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    1. I must give credit to our excellent local tour guide for pointing out the cut. I would never have noticed it myself otherwise, or known its significance.

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