Pantheon Paris History

About Pantheon Paris

An impressive archaeological landmark, the Pantheon Paris may be found in the heart of Paris's Latin Quarter. It is the oldest building in Rome (built in 125 AD) and one of Rome's most spectacular sights; its brilliance can be seen from anywhere in the city. While it is now known as the Pantheon of Paris, the original structure was a chapel dedicated to St. Genevieve.

Pantheon Paris history has it that the structure was built primarily to house the reliquary Chasse, which was believed to contain the relics of the most revered saint of the day. Sadly, it was converted into a secular mausoleum and today holds the bones of notable French persons. To see the magnificent examples of neoclassical architecture that can be found here is a must for every history buff. Visitors to the building are stunned by its stunning beauty, which is particularly evident in its façade. The building's impressive dome was designed after the Tempietto, by the famous architect Bramante. Located in the centre of ancient Rome, this landmark attracts many tourists every year who come to admire its traditional architecture.

History of the Pantheon in Paris

The history of the Pantheon in Paris goes like this, serving as a cathedral dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève, the patron saint of the city. After falling gravely ill in 1744, King Louis XV had a temple built to honour the saint he believes saved his life. A tiny church honouring Sainte Geneviève has stood here since the 5th century, albeit in ruins as per the Pantheon Paris history. Construction didn't get underway until 1764, under the direction of architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot. Although Soufflot had begun building the new church before his death in 1780, it was not completed until 1790, during the French Revolution, by Jean Baptiste Rondelet.

The design was planned for a lofty dome in the shape of a Greek cross, reminiscent of the Roman Pantheon. When designing the Pantheon, architects set out to merge the elegance of Greek architecture with the simplicity of Gothic. Moreover, the first vantage point over the entirety of Paris was atop the Pantheon. By 1791, the Catholic Church's reputation had taken a serious hit, and the revolutionary authorities did not approve of plans to convert the stunning landmark into yet another place of worship. The French National Assembly decided the unfinished church structure should instead serve as a mausoleum for the country's most celebrated citizens. Additionally, the current look of the structure is due to the work of Quatremère Quincy. Several different functions were assigned to the building, in nearly 100 years of the Pantheon Paris history, that elapsed between the rise of Napoleon I and the establishment of the Third French Republic.

There were two separate times when the building was converted back into a church due to changes in governmental authority. Before the burial of writer Victor Hugo in 1885, under the Third Republic, the edifice served as a temporary repository for the remains of the great persons acknowledged by the French Republic. The Greek name for "temple of all gods," "Pantheon" has been in use ever since. Also, the Parisian Pantheon has been a protected historical site since 1920.

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From the Church to the Pantheon

According to Pantheon Paris history, because of the revolutionary government's negative view of the Catholic Church, the gorgeous monument was never converted into a church. This was because the Catholic Church had already been discredited by the time the building was completed in 1791. Since the edifice had not yet been consecrated as a church, the French National Assembly decided it should serve as a mausoleum and be used to inter the remains of France's most celebrated citizens. Moreover, it was Quatremère Quincy who did the remodelling that gave the building its current look. Several different functions were assigned to the building in the almost century that elapsed between Napoleon I's First French Empire and the establishment of the Third French Republic.

Depending on which political administration was in control at the time, the edifice was converted back into a church not once, but twice! Since the burial of writer Victor Hugo there in 1885 (during the Second Republic), the edifice has served as the ultimate resting place for the great persons acknowledged by the French Republic. The Greek phrase for "temple of all gods," "Pantheon" has been in use ever since the 2nd century B.C. The Pantheon in Paris has been recognised as a national historic landmark since 1920.

The Architecture of Pantheon Paris

The Façade

The Pantheon has a magnificent and stately facade that was designed in the Greco-Roman style. This front, designed by David of Angers, is based on the Roman Pantheon, the most well-known of the pantheons, and features 22 columns in the Corinthian style. From a distance, the entire structure appears imposing because of its position at the top of Sainte Geneviève Hill; the structure's prominent facade and dome may also be seen from quite a distance. Going by Pantheon Paris history, it was indeed, Soufflot's ultimate goal to create a church that would rival the grandeur of St. Paul's in London and St. Peter's in Rome.

The interior

The greatness within is more noticeable once you step inside Pantheon Paris as its massive, plainly gothic, and gorgeous interior. The building is in the form of a Greek cross, with a massive dome rising 83 metres above the ground at its centre. Its interior is a prime example of Neoclassicism, the style in which architects of the time replicated classical characteristics in a contemporary environment, and its dimensions are spacious at 110 metres in length and 84 metres in width, with room for 100 Corinthian columns and other works of art. Here, several centuries later, in a new setting, we observe the recreation of the clean lines and monumental grandeur of Greek architecture.

Ground Floor

Most observers focus on this region of the playing field as everything about this place exudes majesty, from the majestic dome to the intricately tiled floors. To stroll along its sides and take in the monumental paintings depicting pivotal episodes in French history is a visual treat. One can pick out a variety of themes in these paintings, but it would be a mistake to overlook Chavannes' cycle depicting Saint Geneviève de Puvis's life. Other cycles detail the foundation of the French monarchy and the Christian faith. As per Pantheon Paris history in 1874, Chavannes, arguably the finest 19th-century fresco painter, began work on the site, thus checking out the paintings depicting Joan of Arc's life is a must.

Foucault’s Pendulum

In the Pantheon, Foucault's Pendulum and the dome are two of the most eye-catching features. There is a metal ball suspended amid the Pantheon's stunning dome and surrounded by a circular acrylic "fence" for scientific experimentation. The instrument is designed to demonstrate the Earth's rotational motion. Using a pendulum two metres in length, French physicist Jean Bernard Foucault performed the same experiment in his house on January 3, 1851. Exactly four weeks later, he repeated the experiment at the Paris Observatory, this time using a pendulum that was twelve metres in length. And with the blessing of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, a great admirer of history and science, he set up a 67-meter pendulum in the centre of the Pantheon on March 26, 1851, to demonstrate his theory that the Earth rotates on its axis.

When the pendulum is moved, the sphere with the connected stiletto leaves a mark in the tiny layer of sand that has been formed on the ground below. As the ball continues to roll, a larger impression is left in the sand. By using this direct and easy-to-understand method, we can show that the Earth rotates. You may see the experiment in action right now by visiting the location where a replica of Eddy's pendulum has been set up. The diameter of the uncovered metal sphere is 20 cm, and it weighs 28 kg. It is drenched in 24-karat gold and hangs from a vertical wire that extends 67 metres from the dome's centre.

The dome

The Pantheon's dome is undeniably one of the building's finest features. It draws comparisons to both the Saint Paul's Cathedral in London and the Dome of the Invalides in Paris as it is encased on all sides by glass, features a fresco painted by Antoine-Jean Gros, and is a popular summertime climbing destination. There are about 200 steps up to the top of the dome, so be prepared to put forth some effort. The reward, though, is the scenery.

The spectacular Luxembourg Gardens, the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, and Notre Dame Cathedral can all be seen from this vantage point. Regrettably, this dome may only be ascended during the warmer months of the year. Every half hour, a group of up to 50 individuals will climb for 40 minutes. One major perk is that visitors to the Pantheon rarely need to wait in line to enter or ascend the dome.

The Crypt in the Basement

One of two side staircases leads down to the basement, where the tombs are located. Once below the earth, you'll find a circular room off to one side, from which a network of passageways leads to numerous chapels housing the buried remains of famous people throughout history. Biographies of the personalities, including information about their lives and accomplishments, are available on terminals with nameplates at the entry. Famous and influential people's names stand out among the others as you walk the halls. A list of names including Emile Zola, Victor Hugo, Louis Braille, Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie, and Alexandre Dumas would suffice. Even Jacques-Germain Soufflot, who designed the Pantheon, was a victim.

Pantheon Paris Facts

  • As recently as 1995, the Panthéon did not have a female burialCelebrating the lives of notable French men was the original criteria for interment in the Panthéon. Marie Curie, a chemist and physicist who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of radioactivity, was not buried at the Panthéon until 1995, breaking with centuries of precedent. Physicist Pierre Curie, and her husband, also rest at the Panthéon.

  • The Panthéon is the final resting place of numerous illustrious French authorsThere are numerous notable authors, philosophers, and movie stars resting in peace within the Panthéon, proving that France's appreciation for the arts and sciences extends to its afterlife. These authors include the likes of the aforementioned Victor Hugo (of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame fame), Alexandre Dumas, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire, and Emile Zola.

  • The Panthéon provides one of the best views over ParisApproach one of the Panthéon's guides and ask to walk up to its spectacular dome, which has an incredible perspective over the city of lights. It's a steep ascent, so bring your camera but leave your heels at home.

  • The Pantheon in Rome was the inspiration for the one in ParisThe Panthéon is an impressive building, but its neoclassical façade is out of place on the Paris skyline and more reminiscent of ancient Rome than of big French architecture. French architects have constructed a massive spired dome, which stands out in comparison to the original structure.

  • Before its current use as a museum, the Panthéon was a churchOne of the lesser known Pantheon Paris history is, that originally, the Panthéon was supposed to be a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris who is credited with leading a prayer campaign that led to the city's salvation. To rebuild a church that had been destroyed, King Louis XV ordered its construction.

  • The Panthéon's original intent changed after the French RevolutionAccording to Pantheon Paris history, the Pantheon was a royal icon because it was commissioned by King Louis XV. During and after the French Revolution, it was transformed into a memorial to the great men of France who had died defending the country's newfound independence.

  • The Panthéon combines elements of neoclassical and Gothic stylesJacques-Germain Soufflot's Panthéon was an extremely risky endeavour. One of the interesting Pantheon Paris facts is that its exterior is neoclassical and draws inspiration from classical Roman architecture, while the inside is spectacular and dramatic in the style of French Gothic. Though Soufflot, who had hoped to see it completed in his lifetime, did not live to see it so, it nevertheless extensively incorporates elements from his original plans.

  • There is an inscription on the facade of the Pantheon, above the sculpturesThis monument is dedicated to "AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE," which translates to "To great men, the thankful country" from the original French.

  • The world rotates, as demonstrated by Léon Foucault and enshrined in the PanthéonFoucault constructed a massive iron pendulum at the Panthéon and used it to undertake an experiment to demonstrate, in 1851, that the Earth spins on its axis. A replica is still on exhibit in the Panthéon despite the original being relocated after its popularity.


What is Panthéon famous for?

The Pantheon has been a Parisian landmark for almost 150 years. As per the history of the Pantheon in Paris this landmark, once used as a place of worship, is now admired by those interested in the past and the arts. The Pantheon is well-known because of its impressive architecture and the many notable French persons buried there. The monument serves as the resting place for such notable people as Marie Curie, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Voltaire.

What's inside the Pantheon Paris?

Inside the Pantheon Paris there are famous people such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Victor Hugo, Jean Jaurès, Rousseau, and Marie Curie buried in the crypt.

Who is buried at Pantheon Paris?

Many notable French individuals, including Jean Jaures, Jean Moulin, Voltaire, Rousseau, Louis Braille, Marie Curie, Victor Hugo, and many others, are buried at the Pantheon.

How old is the Pantheon in Paris?

Built-in 1758, The Pantheon in Paris is 264 years old today.

Why is the Pantheon important Paris?

With its origins as a royal commission by Louis XV, the Panthéon stands as a symbol of the French monarchy to this day in Paris. As per the history of the Pantheon in Paris, following the French Revolution, the site was repurposed to honour the revolutionary heroes who had died defending the country's new beginning.

Where was the Pantheon Paris built?

The Latin Quarter, or 5th arrondissement, is where the Pantheon of Paris stands.


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