Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It is not the first Pantheon
The current Pantheon is actually the third incarnation on the same site. The first was built by Marcus Agrippa in 27 BC but later burned down, it was reconstructed by Emperor Domition but was struck by lightning and subsequently burned down again. The present version, which has survived almost 2000 years, was built by Hadrian between 118-128 AD. Hadrian reused the original inscription attributing the building to Agrippa which for a while led to confusion over the exact date of construction.
The oculus is open
When the Pantheon was built the only source of light was the oculus in the centre of the dome. The opening measures 8.2m in diameter and is also referred to as ‘The Eye of the Pantheon’. A clever lighting trick is played out on 21 April, the founding date of Rome. At midday the sunlight hits the metal grille above the door, filling the entrance way with light. This would have illuminated the emperor in ancient times, reflecting his perceived status as a god on earth. Another beautiful effect takes place at Pentecost when rose petals are sprinkled through the oculus after the annual mass. Obviously being open to the elements means it also rains inside the Pantheon but a gently sloping floor and 22 well-hidden holes help the water to drain away.
It was once covered in bronze
The dome of the Pantheon was originally covered in bronze, which would have made the skyline of the city sparkle in the sunlight. However throughout the Middle Ages materials were gradually stripped away to be utilised elsewhere. Pope Urban VIII, who was a member of the Barberini family, famously took the bronze from the Pantheon’s portico in 1631 to construct cannons for the Vatican, giving rise to the saying ‘quod non fecerunt barbari, fecerunt Barberini’ (what the barbarians didn’t do was done by the Barberini).
It has a record-breaking dome
The Pantheon dome, which measures 43.2m, held the record for the largest dome in the world for over 1300 years until Brunelleschi (who studied the Pantheon for inspiration) built the Duomo in Florence. However, to this day it is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world. Hadrian achieved this by gradually decreasing the thickness and using lighter volcanic materials such as pumice and tufa as it gets higher. The coffers in the ceiling also help to minimize the weight.
It has perfect dimensions
The building precisely follows the rules of Classical architecture laid out by Vitruvius, creating an aethestically pleasing form. At 43.2m, the height of the building is exactly the same as the width, meaning that a perfect sphere would fit inside. This gives the Pantheon the impression of balance and harmony.
It is home to some famous historical figures
The Pantheon is the final resting place of several notable people, including the first two kings of unified Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II and his son Umberto I who is placed in front of his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy (for whom pizza margherita was named). The tomb of renowned painter Raphael is also found here. Raphael requested to be buried and after his death in 1520 his wishes were met and he was placed in a marble sarcophagus inscribed with a Latin inscription which translates as ‘Here lies Raphael, by whom nature herself feared to be outdone while he lived, and when he dies, feared that she herself would die’.
It is now a church
In the year 609, the emperor Phocas gave the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV who consecrated it as a church. However, in doing so all pagan imagery was removed and replaced with Christian decoration. Holes can still be seen on the pediment of the façade where pagan bronze adornments have been stripped.
The name comes from Greek
The word Pantheon is is derived from the ancient Greek words ‘pan’ (all) and theos (god). The temple was dedicated to the worship of all gods. This is reflected still today in the name of the present-day church which is Santa Maria e Martiri (St Mary and all the Martyrs).
It used to have bell towers
In the early 1600s, a modification by Pope Urban VIII (which is often misattributed to Bernini) saw two bell towers added to the sides of the façade. These were much derided by the Romans who nicknamed them ‘the ass’s ears’ until they were finally removed in the late 19th century.
The columns were transported from Egypt
Each of the 16 massive granite Corinthian columns at the entrance weighs 60 tons. They were quarried in Egypt, dragged 100km to the Nile, placed on barges and shipped up the river and transferred to boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Once they arrived at the port of Ostia they were retransferred to barges, pulled up the Tiber to Rome and dragged to the Pantheon construction site to be erected to support the portico.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.