If you’ve ever been to Rome, it’s likely you stopped to marvel at the Pantheon, Italy’s most-visited cultural site. The ancient building’s grand columns and large concrete dome are instantly recognizable. And if you haven’t been to Rome yet, the Pantheon is a staple of many travelers’ bucket lists. Every year, millions of tourists explore the 2,000-year-old structure.
Soon, however, the experience will include one more step: paying an entrance fee.
In the past, access to the Pantheon has always been free. Roman officials suggested a €2 entrance fee several years ago, but the controversial proposal was shelved. Now, entrance to the famous historic site will cost €5. A coalition of church and culture officials signed the new policy last week, reports the Associated Press (AP).
Gennaro Sangiuliano, Italy’s new culture minister, praised the move. “In just three months we have come to define a goal based on common sense: to charge a modest ticket for the most visited cultural site in Italy,” he says in a statement, per Google Translate.
The new policy comes with a few exceptions: Roman residents will still be able to enter the site for free. So will anyone under age 18, as well as teachers accompanying school groups. Tourists under 25 will only have to pay €2 to enter. The Pantheon is still regularly used for Mass, which will remain free for attendees.
Proceeds from the new fees will be split between the culture ministry, which will receive 70 percent, and the Rome diocese, which will receive 30 percent, according to the AP.
The Pantheon was originally built around 27 B.C.E., and then it was rebuilt around 118 to 128 C.E. In 609 C.E., it became a church called the Basilica of Saint Mary and the Martyrs. Throughout its history, it’s proved to be a remarkably resilient building, in part because of the ancient Romans’ durable, high-quality materials. “The fact that the Roman Pantheon still stands is equal parts amazing and confusing,” wrote Smithsonian magazine’s Colin Schultz in 2014.
For many years, thel Pantheon was the largest dome of its kind. It stands at 142 feet tall—which is nearly as tall as the Statue of Liberty, as Travel + Leisure’s Michael Cappetta points out. How the structure was built is still somewhat of a mystery, and “the exact method of construction has never been determined,” per Encyclopedia Britannica.
Italian officials didn’t specify when the new fees will go into effect. For now, the landmark is still free to all.