Rome's Pantheon to start charging entry fee in 2018

Visitors to Rome's Pantheon, one of the ancient world's best preserved monuments, will have to pay an entry fee from May next year unless they are going there to pray, Italy's Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism Ministry said.

Now a church, the vast cylindrical former temple drew 7.4 million visitors last year. The new €2 (S$3.20) a person fee is part of a drive to squeeze more profit from cultural assets.

The ministry added that visits will be suspended during religious services.

Part of the revenue will be spent on maintaining the site, where Roman statesman Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa commissioned a temple in honour of Emperor Augustus in around 27BC. The building survived barbarian attacks on Rome and was transformed into a Christian church in AD609. Among those buried in there are the Renaissance artist Raphael and two Italian kings. - REUTERS