Panthéon, Paris

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.

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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

Site Information
Names:Church of Sainte-Genevieve · Panthéon
Country:France
Categories:mausolea; national monuments; science history sites; abbey churches; pantheons
Faiths:Catholicism
Styles:Neoclassical
Dates:1764-90
Status: museum
Visitor and Contact Information
Coordinates:48.846276° N, 2.346075° E
Address:Place du Panthéon
Paris, France
75005
Phone:01-44-32-18-00
Website:pantheon.monuments-nationaux.fr
Hours:Apr-Sep: 10am-6:30pm
Oct-Mar: 10am-6pm
Last admission 45 min before closing
Closed Jan 1, May 1, Dec 25
Lodging:View hotels near the Panthéon
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours and prices can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

References

  1. Panthéon - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
  2. Panthéon - Frommer's Attraction Review
  3. Panthéon - Fodor's Online Travel Guide
  4. Pantheon - A View on Cities

More Information

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Map of the Panthéon, Paris

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