The original Pantheon was even older, built by Marcus Agrippa around 25 BC (but destroyed in a fire in AD 80), and bears his name on the inscription across the façade. Consecration as a church in the 7th century saved it from spoil and abandonment in the Middle Ages and it’s now a mausoleum which contains the sepulchres of both Raphael and King Victor Emmanuel, the first king of united Italy. Despite suffering many pillages, the Pantheon remains a testament to the skill and sophistication of Roman architecture. Even the often-critical Michelangelo proclaimed it to be ‘of angelic and not human design’. It’s a shame that these days it has to share a square with too many pigeons and the golden arches and (greasy odours) of one of Rome’s few McDonald’s restaurants. The marble and concrete interior of the building could hold a giant sphere with a diameter of 43m, and the beguiling 9m hole at the centre of the dome is known as the ‘oculus’. This is the only source of light in the otherwise crepuscular building and is a symbolic link between the temporal and celestial spheres. The Roman concrete used for the dome has puzzled many. By all accounts an unreinforced dome of these dimensions could barely hold its own weight, but the Pantheon has stood for centuries. Bronze beams were taken from the structure by Bernini to melt down into the baldacchino (altar canopy) for St Peter’s in 1628, but the monolithic bronze doors have stood proud, even if the gold finishing has long since worn off.