The authorities, represented by the head of the Italian Ministry of Culture at the time, Dario Franceschini, first hinted at the introduction of paid entry to the Pantheon in 2017. At that time, it was assumed that the ticket would cost 2 euros. Given the wave of discontent, it was decided to postpone the controversial proposal. While the project was frozen, the figure more than doubled between times. From now on, the entrance to the “Temple of all the Gods”, considered one of the best preserved buildings of ancient Rome, will cost 5 euros. Calling the fee symbolic is overkill. For comparison: for this amount, the inhabitants of Rome can buy an annual subscription to visit all the museums of the State. And a visit to the Vatican Museums, which have no scale comparable to the Pantheon, which has 54 rooms, including the Sistine Chapel, currently costs 17 euros.
“A modest figure and a manifestation of common sense”, – this is how the Italian Minister of Culture Gennaro Sangiuliano described the introduction of the tax, not hiding his satisfaction with what he had done, and showing also proudly letters from citizens who have supported this initiative. The minister pointed out that Rome is following the example of Paris, which collects a fee to visit Napoleon’s tomb.
30% of the revenue from tickets to the Pantheon will go to the Diocese of Rome, the remaining 70 – to the Ministry of Culture
The authorities really have a lot to be happy about. According to the agreement, 30% of the income will go to the Diocese of Rome, the remaining 70% – to the Ministry of Culture, which, together with the Municipality of Rome, will finance the reconstruction of the building. The profit promises to be impressive. After the end of the pandemic, the number of visitors is likely to reach 10 million tourists, which will thus bring in around 50 million euros per year for the public treasury.
As before, the faithful attending religious services will be able to enter the Pantheon free of charge (how they will be identified has not yet been specified), as well as residents of the Italian capital and a number of privileged categories of citizens. The latter include the disabled, pensioners and those under 18, as well as teachers accompanying school groups. Visitors between the ages of 18 and 25 must pay €3, which promises to be reduced to €2 over time.
Curiously, tourists took to the innovation with a bang, queuing under the scorching sun of Rome in three different queues at once: the first – for payment in cash, the second – with a bank card, the third – using a QR code. The hosts in the Italian capital interviewed by RG are convinced that they are making a small contribution to keeping the precious monument in good condition.
Unlike lost travellers, critical Italian citizens question the advisability of introducing Pantheon tickets. Thus, the journalist Marisole Garacci is convinced that by taking such measures, the authorities “admit their defeat and their inability to competently manage the cultural heritage”. The main argument against is that such moves risk setting a dangerous precedent and damaging Rome’s reputation. The image of an “open-air museum” has firmly anchored itself behind the “eternal city”, many of whose curiosities were until today accessible to the general public.
And most importantly – Rome remains the “seat” of the Catholic Church, which (in the introduction of the Roman Diocese is the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs located in the Pantheon) suddenly decided, in cooperation with the authorities, to charge an entrance fee to the “temple of all gods”. A similar trend, as local observers fear, could lead to the commercialization of a number of places of worship, which are still free to enter. A striking example is St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which this wave of commercialization, fortunately, has not yet reached.
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