The change was “based on common sense”, said Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, adding that the price “is modest” for Italy’s most visited cultural site. The 2,000-year-old building is now a dedicated church, and part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the needs of the Roman Catholic diocese. However, most of the money, 70%, will go to the treasury of the Italian Ministry of Culture, which will bear the costs of cleaning and maintenance.
Among tourists who visited the Pantheon on Thursday, reaction to the news was mixed. “It makes sense. Conservation requires money and I’m not shocked that tourists are doing their part,” said 37-year-old Chilean Gustavo Rojas. However, Alessandra Mezzasalma, a 46-year-old Italian guide, told the agency the decision was “shameful”. “The Pantheon and historical monuments in general are collective property and must remain open to everyone,” explained the guide. “If I had to pay, we wouldn’t have entered the Pantheon,” said Clara Dupont, a 21-year-old French tourist.
Other major churches in Rome, including St. Peter’s Basilica, are free, but tickets are required to visit museums and monuments, such as the Colosseum. One of the best-preserved remains of ancient Rome, the Pantheon is famous for its unusual dome with a diameter of 43 meters and a round hole through which light falls. The Pantheon was built as a temple in the first century BC and was then radically rebuilt under Emperor Hadrian in the early second century AD. It received new life after being consecrated as a church in the 7th century under Pope Boniface IV.