The Panthéon, an imposing 19th century building, was first designed as a church, but later turned into a civil temple.
On top of the montagne Ste-Geneviève, not far from
the Sorbonne University and the
Jardin du Luxembourg
, the Panthéon looks
over the Quartier Latin. As far back as 507, this site
was chosen by King Clovis
- the first Frankish Merovingian King - for a basilica
to serve as a tomb for him and his wife Clothilde. In
512 Sainte-Geneviève, patroness of Paris was
When King Louis XV suffered from a serious illness in 1744 he vowed to build a church dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève
if he would survive. After he recovered, he entrusted
the Marquis of Marigny with the task of building the
church, which was to replace the 6th century basilica,
at the time known as the Abbey Sainte-Geneviève.
In 1755, the Marquis commissioned
architect Jacques- Germain
Soufflot to design a new, great church.
Construction of the imposing building started in 1757. Mainly due to financial problems, it would take 34 years until the project was completed.
After Soufflot's death in 1780, his associate Guillaume
Rondelet took charge of the project. The building was
finished in 1791, in the midst of the French Revolution.
That same year, the Constituent
Interior of the Panthéon
Assembly of the Revolution
decided by decree to transform the church into a temple
to accommodate the remains of the great men of France.
The building was adapted by architect Quatremère
de Quincy to its new function as a pantheon.
In 1806 the building was turned into a church again, but since 1885 the Panthéon
serves as a civic building.
The floorplan shows a Greek-cross layout, 110m long and 85m wide (361 x 279 ft). The large dome reaches a height of 83m (279ft).
The portico, with large Corinthian columns was modeled
after the 2nd century Pantheon
The Crypt - Voltaire
The dome features
three superimposed shells, similar to the St. Paul's Cathedral
Iron reinforcements were added to strengthen the structure
The large crypt, covering the whole surface of the building accommodates the vaults of great French public figures.
Some of the most famous buried here are Victor Hugo, Voltaire,
Jean Monnet, Marie and Pierre Curie and Emile
The Panthéon was also the place where, in 1851, the astronomer Jean Bernard Léon Foucault first held
his famous experiment, proving that the world spins
around its axis. The Foucault pendulum moved in 1851
The dome's colonnade
Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers (3e
arr). In 1995, it temporarily moved back to the Panthéon
due to construction works at the Conservatoire.
From the colonnade around the building's dome, you have an excellent view over Paris. For safety issues you can only go up there in company of a (free) guide at regular hours. The Panthéon itself
is best seen coming from the Jardin
through the rue Soufflot.
- Average Rating:
- Duration: 2 hours