Rome, Italy || The Pantheon
Built in 126 AD. An ancient house of worship dedicated all Roman gods.
This pagan temple was gifted to Pope Boniface IV in 609 AD and has since been repurposed as a Catholic Church dedicated to Santa Maria ad Martyres. (St. Mary of Martyrs)
Rome is an ancient city where antiquity and modernity intertwine seamlessly to create a unique experience for anyone that visits. I've been traveling there my whole life. . . You'd expect me to be used to it by now. I'm not.
This city never ceases to amaze. When you feel like you finally got it - when you think you finally wrapped your head around the cultural complexities that are part and parcel of a metropolis that has been around since before the year 1 (literally), you come across an experience like this, and you're set back to 0.
These are a few pictures that I took during an Easter Vigil Mass at the Pantheon back in 2013. Maybe it was the community of Romans and tourist united for a common purpose; maybe it was the ancient rituals and the priests' Gregorian Chant that echoed under the marble dome. It might even have been ancient splendor of the space itself whose very construction has bewildered historians and engineers for centuries.
I'm not sure exactly what it was, but I do know that the effect it had on me will not easily be forgotten. It changed my perspective and made me realize how truly special it is to take part in a culture's ancient traditions - how it makes you feel connected to something larger and more permanent than you or anything that you know.
Rome is a city that offers you this opportunity in infinite ways at every corner. No wonder why I keep going back for more - as ancient as it is, Rome will never get old.