The iconic Pantheon and a beautiful fountain draw visitors to this vibrant square set in the heart of Rome’s historic center.
Come to Piazza della Rotonda to admire its emblematic landmarks. The magnificent Pantheon is the square’s centerpiece attraction and looms over its southern side. Framing the square are pavement cafés, which are ideal for people-watching and admiring the architecturally-impressive backdrop.
Today a graceful square, during the 19th century Piazza della Rotonda was a bustling marketplace. Hawkers would come to sell everything from caged birds to fish and vegetables. Pope Pio VII eventually moved the market vendors and created a square fitting of its architectural prowess.
In the heart of the square is the attractive Fountain of the Pantheon, crowned by an Egyptian obelisk. Giacomo della Porta designed the fountain in 1575 and Filippo Barigioni added the obelisk in 1711. Note the intricately-carved grotesques and coats of arms. Look for hieroglyphics on the obelisk, which date its origin to the time of Egyptian pharaoh Ramses II.
Go to the Pantheon, one of the most recognizable monuments of ancient Rome, built during the reign of Emperor Hadrian. Take a moment to admire the grand portico entrance with a colonnade of 16 Corinthian columns. Step inside to discover a circular temple decorated with a gleaming marble floor and statues of biblical figures. Look up to see light flood in through the huge copula. Originally a temple dedicated to classical gods, in A.D. 608 it became a Christian church called Santa Maria ad Martyres.
Sit at the terrace of a café or restaurant, order a drink and watch as a mix of locals and tourists pass by. Have your camera ready to take shots of the fountain, Pantheon and pastel-colored mansions. Alternatively, purchase food and drinks from a nearby shop and sit on the steps of the fountain.
Public buses stop close to Piazza della Rotonda, although the best way to get here is by foot. It’s about a 10-minute walk from major city attractions such as Piazza Venezia and the Trevi Fountain.
The Pantheon is open daily, except for select public holidays and admission is free. Guided tours are available, for a fee, from Sunday to Friday. Expect queues year-round.