Tourists in Rome checking out the Pantheon, Italy's most-visited cultural site, will soon be charged a $5.28 entrance fee under an agreement signed Thursday by Italian culture and church officials.
Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said the move was a matter of "good sense." The introduction of an entrance fee comes five years after a previous government shelved plans to start charging visitors 2 euros.
Proceeds will be split, with the culture ministry receiving 70% and the Rome diocese 30%, officials said.
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The monumental domed structure, originally an ancient temple, last year attracted 60,803 visitors, topping the Colosseum's 38,360. The Pantheon was transformed into a church in 609, called the Basilica of St. Mary and the Martyrs, and Mass is regularly celebrated there.
Under the new plan, visitors under 25 years of age will be charged $2.12. Entrance will be free to Rome residents, minors, people attending Mass and personnel of the basilica, among others.
No date was given for the introduction of the fee, as officials work out technical details. Currently, entrance is free and reservations are required on weekends and public holidays.