The Roman Pantheon is the most well preserved and influential building of ancient Rome, it was built and dedicated between A.D 118 and 125. It is a temple dedicated to all the gods of pagan Rome. The emperor Hadrian (A.D 117-138) built the Pantheon to replace Commander Marcus Agrippa’s Pantheon of 27 B.C. which burnt to the ground in 80 A.D.
The original inscription at the front of the Pantheon can still be clearly seen. This is the dedication by Marcus Agrippa. The inscription reads:
“Marcus Agrippa son of Lucius, having been consul three times made it”.
Despite all the marvelous building projects that the emperor Hadrian produced during his reign, he only ever inscribed his name on one, the temple of his father Trajan. That is why the Roman Pantheon bears the inscription of Marcus Agrippa, and not the emperor Hadrian.
The pediment, (the triangle section above the inscription) is blank today, but there would have been sculptures that depicted the battle of the Titans. The huge bronze doors that guard the entrance to the cellar would have been covered in gold, but that has not withstood time and thieves.
The original use of the Pantheon is a bit of a mystery, except that is was classified as a temple. However, we do not know how the people worshipped in the building, because the structure of the temple is so different from other traditional Roman temples such as in the Roman Forum.
The Pantheon exists today in such pristine form because the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave it to Pope Boniface the VIII in 608 AD and it has been in use as a church building ever since. The Pantheon has been in continuous use since the time it was built.