Machu Picchu and The Pantheon

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Architecture ・MLA ・6 Sources

Great constructions can be found all over the world. While some of these buildings have been made in the latest years, some have been made hundreds of years ago and nevertheless stand a tall as they did back then. In the modern world, we can see extraordinary significance in these buildings. Not just of their notable size, but of the art in designing them. Two constructions I would like to present are the Pantheon and Machu Picchu. Both glorious architectures every have their own special that means to their specific culture. We will dissect each piece of artwork to convey their power and authority they have on their culture. The Pantheon and Machu Picchu are an architectural design of great minds. We will discuss the power and authority of each building on their culture.

The Pantheon

The Pantheon is a Roman building, which was built in 125 AD. It served as the Roman temple devoted to the deity of the Greeks. Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) built the Pantheon as a replacement of the older Pantheon, which was burnt in 80 A.D. Despite all the wonderful architectural projects that Hadrian constructed during his rule, he inscribed his father’s name rather than his own name on the building (Hannah and Magli 486). Precisely, the writing on the front of the building reads “M. AGRIPPA.L.CONSTERTUM. FECIT” which is a Latin phrase dedicated to Hadrian’s father Marcus Agrippa who had built the previous Pantheon. Currently, the building has maintained most of the features, arts, style and architecture. Nonetheless, the ancient building contained a sculpture on the pediment (the triad space above the writings), which is currently unavailable (Grasshoff and Berndt 1). In addition, early building had the bronze doors with gold coating, which secured the entry to the cella, but they have disappeared in the present era.

The Pantheon is renowned for its dome structure. In fact, it is one of the greatest illustrations of Roman architecture. Moreover, its design adheres to the ancient Greek style of construction. It is circular in shape composed of a portico reinforced by eight huge columns that support up the pediment containing the writing to Agrippa (Hannah and Magli 489). The porch is connected via vestibule to the rotunda, which is under an outstanding dome. In addition, the dome contains an opening at the center, which is known as oculus (Senseney 13). The dome is made of concrete and has a varying level of thickness. Indeed, it is oldest unsupported dome in the city (Grasshoff and Berndt 2). The materials for its construction included brick, pumice, travertine and concrete, which facilitated rapid drying.

The Pantheon was a symbol of power and authority in the ancient Roman Empire. More significantly, it highlighted Roman duty and power. In addition, there was godly and spiritual symbols of supremacy devoted to the Greek gods (Senseney 24). The application of spiritual and Roman symbols of power in the Pantheon was used to represent the far reaches and expansive control of the Roman Empire at the time (Hannah and Magli 492). Notably, Emperor Hadrian was a martial leader who had conquered numerous kingdoms during his rule. Therefore, the building served as an emblem of his success against his adversaries. Furthermore, the Pantheon’s dome was also a significant mark of authority. Its presence in Rome signified a royal city, which was the center of power (Grasshoff and Berndt 3). The dome was also considered the base of all Greek gods. However, in the present generation the Pantheon convey the magnificent architectural power of ancient Romans. The building has also contributed to the rise of similar architectures such as University of Virginia’s rotunda and Paris Pantheon. Currently, the building is used as a Catholic church as Saint Mary and Martyrs Church (Hannah and Magli 505). It also serves as a memorial and a monument as well as a concert hall. The Pantheon is an exceptional work of architecture and art.

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Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is mysterious castle built in the mid-15th century. It was a Royal Estate constructed for Emperor Pachacuti Inka Yupanqui, who was the first Inca leader in the present-day Peru. Machu Picchu is located on a mountain ridge approximately 7970 ft. above sea level (Zan and Lusiani 157). The Inca people used the Machu Picchu as a clandestine ceremonial city. However, the Incas left the citadel following the Spanish invasion a century later. Therefore, Machu Picchu was used from 1450 to 1540. It was designed to be an area where the Incas emperor and his relatives could conduct religious ceremonies, prepare feast and manage the affairs of the empire (Sassa 43). Besides, the Emperor used it to formulate a right to land that would be allocated to his lineage following his death.

Machu Picchu was a symbol of power and authority of the Inca people over their nemesis. Moreover, emperor Pachakuti constructed the Machu Picchu after he had acquired massive political power over his rivals, especially following the conquering of communities such as Chankas (Arellano 106). During his reign, his empire expanded to far areas such as Central Chile and Southern Columbia from Tawantinsuyu. The period also demonstrated innovation and industrialization (Zan and Lusiani 159). Machu Picchu was a symbol of power because only approved persons and the royal families were allowed to enter them.

The Machu Picchu exhibited a unique style of art in the construction. All the buildings from terraces to houses were constructed by prudently setting individual bricks against each other (Arellano 107). Precisely, stones were used to construct the walls that were particularly designed to fit strictly to each other instead of being set into similar components. It was also achieved by an industrious process of striking at the rocks with instruments slowly molding them so that each was distinctively nested against those around it (Zan and Lusiani 163). The style used in fixing the stones without the mortar allowed flexibility especially during earthquake movements since the region was seismically active. Furthermore, the external surfaces were then smoothened which helped to produce an external appearances that look like an elaborate mosaic. The roofs of most structures were made of thatch and wood. The entrances were in the special trapezoid shape instead of a rectangle (Sassa 46). Additionally, the trapezoid shapes were also utilized for windows and niches in the structures’ walls. Buildings belonging to persons of low socio-economic status were made of rough structural technique that did not shape the rocks (Arellano 111). The terraces were normally used in agriculture even before the Machu Picchu was built. They improved the surfaces of arable land and controlled erosion by establishing enclosed steps down the sharp slopes (Zan and Lusiani 175). Terracing benefited from the sceneries and offered some food for the king and his staff when they visited as well as producing maize, which was important to perform the rituals.

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Similarities and Differences

Both the Pantheon and Machu Picchu have similarities and differences in terms of their artistic work. They are similar because they represent symbolic and original buildings that served different purposes. In addition, they are also classy structures, which represent exceptional mastery of architectural skills (Hannah and Magli 486). Both buildings also combine ancient elements of architecture, religion and art. In addition, both buildings were used to serve the deity and other religious services (Grasshoff and Berndt, 1). They were symbols of power and authority in their respective societies.

However, the structures have a wide range of differences. For instance, the Pantheon was established between 118 and 125 A.D in Rome. It also composed of columnar porch, dome at the roof, and conventional eight columns, which indicated the sway of Greek building arts. The dome also had an opening which is referred to as an ocular (Grasshoff and Berndt, 1). The interior and exterior part of the structure had various decorations made of gold and bronze which revered the pagan worship. Furthermore, the walls and the dome were made of cement, and marble. The main purpose of the building was to meet the religious duties since its name is derived from Greek term “all gods” (Hannah and Magli 486).

On the contrary, Machu Picchu consisted of many buildings built on top of a range. They were constructed between 1450 and 1540 in Peru (Sassa 47). The buildings were built to serve as the royal estates for the emperor although they were used for other functions such as offering sacrifice. There were located on a remote place because only a few individuals had the approval to enter this magnificent and attractive Sanctuary. The rocks for constructions were uniquely shaped as they provided attractive architectural skills (Zan and Lusiani 157). They builders of these structures did not use mortar or cement but molded the stones to provide unique fittings.


The Pantheon and Machu Picchu are ancient buildings that display extraordinary pieces of art and architectural skills. Emperor Hadrian built the Pantheon in 125 AD in Rome and dedicated it to the gods during the pagan worship. Its design adheres to the ancient Greek style of construction such as the pediment, cella, dome and eight columns supporting the pediment. It also contained special decorations that were meant to praise the gods. It was mainly used for religious purposes (Grasshoff and Berndt, 1). The Pantheon was a symbol of power and authority following the victories of the Emperor over his rivals. At this time, the Roman Empire had registered prosperity. On the other hand, Machu Picchu as a royal estate built the mid-15th century on top of a mountain in Peru (Arellano 106). It was also used to offer sacrifices to the gods of Incas. It reveals exceptional mastery of art as the rocks were shaped in a special manner to offer interlocking services (Zan and Lusiani 167). Various ornaments were used to decorate the building. Emperor Pachacuti built it to display his authority and power after defeating his neighbors. Therefore, the Pantheon and Machu Picchu are an architectural design of great minds.

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Work Cited

Arellano, Alexandra. "Tourism in poor regions and social inclusion: the porters of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu." World Leisure Journal 53.2 (2011): 104-118.

Grasshoff, Gerd, and Christian Berndt. "Decoding the pantheon columns." Architectural Histories 2.1 (2014).

Hannah, Robert, and Giulio Magli. "The role of the sun in the Pantheon’s design and meaning." Numen 58.4 (2011): 486-513.

Sassa, Kyoji. "Social Impact of IPL 101-1 “Landslide Investigation in Inca’s World Heritage, Machu Pichu, Peru”." Landslides: Global Risk Preparedness. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013. 43-58.

Senseney, John R. The art of building in the classical world: Vision, craftsmanship, and linear perspective in greek and roman architecture. Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Zan, Luca, and Maria Lusiani. "Managing Machu Picchu: institutional settings, business model and master plans." Journal of cultural heritage management and sustainable development 1.2 (2011): 157-176.

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