The Pantheon in Rome, which is currently free to the public, will start charging for entrance in May 2018.
Italy’s culture ministry announced the move on 11 December, confirming that visitors will have to pay €2 to see the Ancient Roman temple-turned-church, reports The Local.
The money raised will be used for “development and protection of the monument, maintenance and guaranteeing increased security during visits,” according to the ministry.
The idea was first proposed in September 2016, with the argument being that charging would help cover the running costs of the monument. The Pantheon is one of the only Ancient Roman sites in the Italian capital to still be free of charge.
Seven million people visit the Pantheon each year, a number that has put an increasing amount of stress on the structure. It was originally a Pagan temple built between 118 and 125 AD but was converted to a Catholic church in 608 AD.
The Pantheon is the best preserved of all the Ancient Roman monuments. Its 142ft dome is still the biggest unreinforced concrete dome ever constructed and the original marble floor remains intact.
It contains the tombs of Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of united Italy, his successor, Umberto I, and the Renaissance artist and architect, Raphael.
Preserving historic sites while welcoming visitors has been a pressing issue for Italy in recent years, with Florence and Venice both taking steps to look after their famous monuments. The country has seen a boom in tourism and visitor numbers are at a record high of 56 million a year, up 55 per cent from 2001.© Provided by The Independent © Provided by The Independent
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