The Panthéon is a neo-Classical church in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was originally an abbey dedicated to St. Genevieve (the patron saint of Paris), but now functions primarily as a burial place for famous French heroes.
History of the Panthéon
In 1744, King Louis XV vowed that if he recovered from a mysterious illness he would replace the ruined Abbey of Sainte-Geneviève with an edifice worthy of the patron saint of Paris.
The king regained his health, and the Marquis of Marigny was entrusted with the fulfillment of the vow. Marigny's protégé Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780) was charged with the plans, and the construction of the Panthéon began.
The foundations were laid in 1758, but due to financial difficulties, it was not completed until after Soufflot's death, in 1789. As it was completed at the start of the French Revolution, the new Revolutionary government ordered it to be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen. Twice since then it has reverted to being a church, only to once again become a temple to the great men of France.
In 1851 physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by his experiment conducted in the Panthéon, by constructing the 67-meter Foucault's pendulum beneath the central dome. The original iron sphere from the pendulum was returned to the Panthéon in 1995 from the Conservatoire.
On November 30, 2002, in an elaborate but solemn procession, six Republican Guards carried the coffin of Alexandre Dumas (1802-1870), the author of The Three Musketeers, to the Panthéon. Draped in a blue-velvet cloth inscribed with the Musketeers' motto: Un pour tous, tous pour un ("One for all, all for one"), the remains had been transported from their original internment site in the Cimetière de Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France.
What to See at the Panthéon
The Panthéon is an early example of Neoclassicism, with a Greek-cross plan and a massive portico of Corinthian columns. Its ambitious lines called for a vast building 110 meters long by 84 meters wide, and 83 meters high. The crypt is equally vast.
The Panthéon's façade is modeled on that of the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a small dome that resembles that of St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the top of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris.
The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE ("For great men the grateful Nation"). Among those buried in the Panthéon's necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Honoré Mirabeau, Marat, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Marie Curie (the only woman to be so honored), René Descartes, Louis Braille and Soufflot, its architect.
Before entering the crypt, note the striking frescoes depicting scenes from St. Geneviève's life.
Quick Facts on the Panthéon
|Names:||Church of Sainte-Genevieve · Panthéon|
|Categories:||mausolea; national monuments; science history sites; abbey churches; pantheons|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||48.846276° N, 2.346075° E|
|Address:||Place du Panthéon|
Last admission 45 min before closing
Closed Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25
|Lodging:||View hotels near the Panthéon|
- Panthéon - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
- Panthéon - Frommer's Attraction Review
- Panthéon - Fodor's Online Travel Guide
- Pantheon - A View on Cities
- Photos of the Panthéon - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of the Panthéon, Paris
Below is a location map and aerial view of the Panthéon. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.