The Pantheon, dedicated to all the gods, was built by the emperor Hadrian (117-138) between 118 and 128 to replace a temple dedicated by Marcus Agrippa in 27 BC. Hadrian, with characteristic tact, left the credit to Agrippa in the inscription on the temple's porch, but his new construction was a completely revolutionary design. Originally only the pedimented porch would have been visible to people approaching the building; the rotunda behind was concealed by neighboring structures. The interior would have come as a breathtaking surprise, a perfectly hemispherical dome set upon a cylinder so that the height of the dome equaled its diameter, a space filled with light and air from the oculus piercing the dome, glowing with color from the various marbles that covered the walls.
Probably because it was reconsecrated as a Christian church in the seventh-century, the Pantheon is one of the best preserved of ancient monuments, in spite of the appropriation of some of its materials by emperors and popes over the centuries. It was greatly admired in the Renaissance. Bramante's original design for the dome of St. Peter's was based on the Pantheon, and the artist Raphael requested to be buried there. In this view Piranesi depicts it from a very low vantage point, apparently to emphasize the antiquity of the structure by cropping the awkward bell towers added above the porch in the seventeenth century. The Pantheon is a monument he would return to several times in the Views of Rome.