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Exploring History: What is the Oldest Building Still in Use?

You were up all night last night considering this…as was I…


Okay, maybe you’ve never even contemplated it, but with the history of this world, the advance of architecture is a fascinating study.


So what building is the oldest building that is still in use today?


Well, there are multiple, and I can’t promise this is the oldest building still in use. But thanks to Google we found one of the oldest buildings still in use.


And that building is the Pantheon in Rome, Italy.


Courtesy of Canva Photos


The original structure of the Pantheon was built somewhere around 25 – 31 BCE, by Agrippa.


Back then it was a small traditional temple. However, somewhere around 80 CE it was damaged by a fire and went on to be restored by Emperor Domitian.


But again in 110 CE, it was damaged by fire yet again.


This time Emperor Trajan oversaw the beginnings of the new era of the Pantheon, however, it wasn’t completed before he died, so his successor, Hadrian, took over the design of the Pantheon as we know it today.


This final rebuild of the Pantheon took around 15-20 years, starting somewhere within Trajan's reign in 110 and finishing during Hadrian’s reign somewhere between 125 – 128 CE.


Courtesy of Canva Photos


The true reason why this structure was built is still somewhat of a mystery. Some sources state that it was originally created as a temple to worship the Roman gods. However, others state it may have been more of a dynastic sanctuary (Ranogajec, 2015).


Although there are still questions about its original use, during the time of Trajan and Hadrian the Pantheon was known to be used as a place of court, mostly associated with the power of the emperors.


But less on the history of the building, and more on what you are here for…the architecture and design.


The Pantheon was built with 6 different parts.

  1. Portico

  2. Frieze

  3. Pediment

  4. Second Pediment

  5. Intermediate Block

  6. Domed Rotunda

For all the non-architects out there, below is a graphic provided by Smart History that displays each part of the Pantheon.


Photo Courtesy of Smart History


And honestly, they do a much better way of describing the architecture and design than I will, for more detail check out their article here.


However, I will provide some detail.


The classical style of the Pantheon is the picture of Roman design.


Perhaps the most incredible part of the design is its large dome. Within Domed Rotunda, a half-sphere dome is topped with a large oculus. Which essentially is a big round 30-foot skylight at the top of the dome, letting the natural light flow through to the large space below.


Courtesy of Canva Photos


This oculus is the only window within the Pantheon.


Because the oculus is open to the sky, when it rains, it also rains within the Pantheon. But this was also considered in the design, so the floor is slightly curved, allowing the water to flow away (Italy Guides, n.d.).


It is unknown how the Pantheon survived the centuries when so many of the other buildings from that era were destroyed or only partly survived. However, it is still one of the most sought-after designs, having multiple buildings designed in its like.


Now the Pantheon is a Christian temple and is used both for Christian worship and tourism.

Heading to Italy? Book your tour of the Pantheon here - https://www.pantheonroma.com/home-eng/


Check out more of our blogs here - https://www.flexxform.co/learningcenter


References

Cartwright, M. (2018, April 9). Pantheon. Retrieved from World History Encyclopedia:

Italy Guides. (n.d.). The Pantheon in Rome. Retrieved from Italy Guides:

Palumbo, J. (2020, November 16). The Pantheon: The ancient building still being used after 2,000 years. Retrieved from CNN:

Pantheon in Rome. (n.d.). Basilica of Santa Maria ad Martyres. Retrieved from Pantheon in Rome:

Ranogajec, D. P. (2015, December 11). The Pantheon (Rome). Retrieved from Smart History:

Rome.Info. (n.d.). Pantheon. Retrieved from rome.info:

Villareal, M. (n.d.). The Oldest Buildings In The World That Are Still In Use. Retrieved from Out of Town Blog:


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