The ticket price has yet to be confirmed but “is not to not exceed five euros”, Italy’s culture ministry announced, while minors and Rome residents will be exempt.
The change was “based on common sense”, Italy’s Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said, and the price will be “modest” for Italy’s most visited cultural site.
The Pantheon is currently free to enter – though you need to reserve a slot at busy times, and long queues are not unusual.
There was no indication of a timeframe for bringing in the entry fee.
The 2,000-year-old building is currently a consecrated church and part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go towards the diocese of Rome.
Most of the money – 70 percent – will go to the culture ministry, which will bear the costs of cleaning and maintenance.
Among the tourists visiting the Pantheon on Thursday, reaction to the news was mixed.
“It makes sense. Conservation requires money, and it doesn’t shock me to make tourists contribute,” said Gustavo Rojas, a 37-year-old from Chile.
Alessandra Mezzasalma, a 46-year-old Italian tour guide, however, told AFP it was “shameful”.
“The Pantheon, and historical monuments in general, are collective assets and they should remain open to everyone. Culture must be as inclusive as possible,” she said.
“If I had to pay, we wouldn’t have gone in,” said French tourist Clara Dupond, 21.
🇮🇹 POLL: Rome's Pantheon is currently free to visit, but it will soon start charging up to €5 for entry. Is this a good idea?
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— The Local Italy (@TheLocalItaly) March 17, 2023
The other major churches in Rome, including St Peter’s Basilica, are free to visit, but museums and monuments such as the Colosseum are ticketed.
One of the best-preserved relics of ancient Rome, the Pantheon is famed for its extraordinary dome, which measures 43 metres (140 feet) in diameter and includes a circular opening through which light and occasionally rain fall.
It was built as a temple in the first century BC before being completely rebuilt under Emperor Hadrian at the start of the second century AD.
After falling into neglect, the building was given a new life after being consecrated as a church in the seventh century under Pope Boniface IV.