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A Showcase of French Art and Architecture; Pantheon Paris

Arguably, Paris is home to many important cultural landmarks that could be contenders for the best place to visit in the world. The Panthéon in Paris is a magnificent edifice that sits atop the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, in the heart of the 5th arrondissement on the Left Bank of the River Seine. This masterpiece of the architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot is a symbolic monument that has witnessed some of the most turbulent years of the 19th century, and it is a resting place for many great writers, intellectuals, scientists, and political figures.

Pantheon Paris ranks among the many Paris tourist attractions located in the beautiful Latin Quarter of Paris. The beauty of the building alone will dazzle you, and the more you learn about its history, the more you will be drawn into French culture. Explore the history and stunning architecture of the Pantheon Paris during a visit to the city and discover the secrets of this iconic landmark with the help of our blog!

The History of Pantheon

History of pantheon paris

Pantheon de Paris is one of the most elegant examples of French Neoclassicism, designed by one of the most renowned French architects of his time, Jacques-Germain Soufflot. The building was originally commissioned by King Louis XV as a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Genevieve was cherished by Louis XV throughout his reign, and the construction of this magnificent temple was set to be the pinnacle of his celebration of the saint, and therefore Paris itself. Unfortunately, only the foundation was completely built during the lifetimes of both Soufflot and Louis XV.

The design, however, remained as in Soufflot’s original drawings with minimal intervention. The building was almost completely standing during the French Revolution and was voted to be a burial ground for “Honorable and Distinguished Citizens of France.” This was also an attribution to the Pantheon in Rome, which has also been used as a burial ground since the 17th century. The building was restored to its original use as a form of a church during the 19th century as the monarchy was restored several times.

The Pantheon is a mausoleum, the last resting place of some of France’s most celebrated figures:

  • Voltaire
  • Jean-Jacques Rousseau
  • Victor Hugo
  • Émile Zola
  • Alexandre Dumas
  • Marie Curie
  • Jean Moulin
  • Simone Veil
  • Jean Monnet
  • Louis Braille

What is unique about the Pantheon?

Pantheon is among the very unique Paris tourist attractions and it is unique due to several aspects, firstly because it was one of the first religious architectural figures to be affected by a secular uprising in European history. It still stands as one of the largest monumental burial grounds in Europe as well. Also remarkable as one of the most well known points of Paris and France as tourist attractions.

Pantheon de Paris has a Greek Cross plan as many neoclassical churches of the 18th century. As the name Pantheon suggests, the building’s front facade was characterized as an ancient temple consisting of a pediment with reliefs depicting the personification of Paris and Saint Genevieve. The facade is constructed on six frontal columns with composite capitals. The large dome and its collonaded outline shows some signs of revisiting the Renaissance period which was one of the main inspirations of neoclassical school.

What is the Pantheon best known for?

The Pantheon in Paris is a popular tourist spot known for its neoclassical design and unique history. It has served as both a church and secular monument, housing the remains of many famous French figures. It’s an iconic symbol of Paris and France due to its grandeur and cultural significance.

What are the elements of Pantheon architecture?

history of pantheon paris

The Pantheon of Paris is an iconic landmark that offers visitors a wealth of fascinating sights to explore. Here are just a few of the top things to see when visiting this magnificent structure:

  • The Dome: One of the most impressive features of the Pantheon is its massive dome, which rises to a height of 83 meters. Visitors can climb the winding staircase to reach the top of the dome, where they can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding city as well as a possible fascination with the architectural genius behind the building.
  • The Crypt: Located beneath the main floor of the Pantheon, the crypt is home to the tombs of many notable figures in French history. Some of the most famous individuals interred here include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Emile Zola.
  • The Colonnaded Facade: The Pantheon’s neoclassical design features a stunning colonnaded facade, with 22 composite columns stretching along the front of the building. This impressive feature is sure to capture the attention of any visitor. The face appears to be on top of the list for Paris’ things to do!
  • The Gallery of the Pantheon: Located on the upper level of the building, the Gallery of the Pantheon offers visitors a fascinating look at the history of France. Exhibits here cover a range of topics, from the French Revolution to the country’s literary and artistic heritage.

These are just a few of the many things to see when visiting the Pantheon of Paris. Whether you’re interested in history, architecture, or science, there is sure to be something here to captivate your interest and imagination.

Things to see in Pantheon

Jacques-Germain Soufflot

pantheon paris architecture

Jacques-Germain Soufflot was a visionary French architect whose work left an indelible mark on the landscape of Paris. Best known for his design of the Pantheon, Soufflot’s neoclassical style combines stunning grandeur with intricate detail, creating a truly unforgettable experience for visitors. His skillful use of light and space, combined with his innovative approach to design, make Soufflot’s work a must-see for anyone interested in architecture and design. From the soaring dome of the Pantheon to the intricate details of his other buildings, Soufflot’s legacy is one that continues to inspire and captivate visitors to Paris today.

Foucault’s Pendulum

Foucault's Pendulum in Pantheon Paris

Foucault’s Pendulum is a captivating scientific exhibit that is sure to fascinate visitors in the Pantheon in Paris. This mesmerizing pendulum demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, swinging back and forth in a steady motion that gradually changes direction as the Earth turns beneath it. Originally installed in 1851 by the physicist Leon Foucault, this exhibit is both beautiful and educational, offering a unique way to experience the wonder of our planet’s rotation. As visitors watch the pendulum swing, they’ll be captivated by the graceful movement and entranced by the way in which it brings science to life.

Whether you’re a science buff or simply looking for a unique and engaging way to experience the Pantheon, Foucault’s Pendulum is an exhibit that you won’t want to miss.

The French Revolution

Liberte Egalite Fraternite

The French Revolution was a tumultuous period of political upheaval and social change that forever altered the course of French history. This dramatic era saw the rise of revolutionary leaders like Maximilien Robespierre and the eventual overthrow of the French monarchy, ushering in a new era of democracy and liberty. The French Revolution is a fascinating and complex event that has captured the imagination of people around the world, and continues to inspire and intrigue visitors to France today.

From the storming of the Bastille to the Reign of Terror, the French Revolution was a time of great passion, courage, and sacrifice, as ordinary people banded together to fight for their rights and freedoms. Whether you’re a history buff or simply interested in learning more about one of the most pivotal events in French history, the French Revolution is a topic that is sure to captivate and inspire.

The Pediment

The Pediment of Pantheon in Paris

The pediment of the Paris Pantheon is decorated with reliefs that are considerably more than life-sized. The pediment is decorated with a theme of personification, depicting Paris and Saint Genevieve. The Panthéon’s triangular pediment showcases a relief sculpture of Louis XV presenting his kingdom to Sainte-Geneviève, while its central dome boasts splendid mosaics that portray various events from the life of the saint.

The Frieze

AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISANTE - The Frieze Pantheon Paris

The Frieze is decorated with circular floral patterns that are only interrupted by a writing that reads ‘AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISANTE’

Some Pantheon Facts;

  • A woman wasn’t buried in the Panthéon until 1995
    One of the most interesting pantheon facts appears to be this one! It was customary to inter distinguished French figures in the Panthéon as a mark of recognition, but initially only men were granted this honor. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Panthéon departed from this tradition by honoring physicist and chemist Marie Curie with a burial in its revered chambers, in recognition of her pioneering research on radioactivity. Notably, her husband Pierre Curie, also a physicist, is also interred in the Panthéon.
  • Above the carved figures on the Pantheon’s facade, there’s an inscription
    The French inscription reads as ‘AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISANTE‘, which corresponds to ‘To great men, the grateful homeland‘.
  • The Pantheon was the First Ever Declaration of Earth’s Rotation
    The Pantheon holds the distinction of being the site of the first ever public demonstration of the Earth’s rotation. Physicist Leon Foucault erected a large pendulum at the entrance of the Pantheon, with the aim of demonstrating to the French people how the Earth rotates around its own axis. The original pendulum was moved a while ago to live permanently at the National Conservatory of Art. The pendulum in the Pantheon today is just a replica.
  • It is 110 meters long and 85 meters wide.
  • It was constructed between the years 1757 and 1791.

How to:

Visit the Pantheon: The Pantheon is open to the public daily except for certain holidays. At the entrance you will be guided with Pantheon information, and visitors can purchase Pantheon tickets at the entrance or online in advance and can consult Pantheon hours online as well as at the counters.
Take a guided tour: The Pantheon offers guided tours in several languages, providing visitors with a more in-depth understanding of the history and architecture of the building as well as some uncanny information on Pantheon.
Explore the crypt: The crypt of the Pantheon contains the tombs of famous French figures, and is a must-see for visitors interested in French history and culture.
View Foucault’s Pendulum: The Pendulum is an important exhibit within the Pantheon, and provides a unique demonstration of the Earth’s rotation.

How long do you need at the Pantheon in Paris?

For a full experience at the Pantheon in Paris, set aside two hours. Admire the stunning architecture and artwork, explore Foucault’s Pendulum exhibit, and check out the impressive reliefs and floral patterns. Reflect on the significance of the French Revolution and its impact on modern democracy.

 

The Panthéon de Paris is a must-see for any visitor to the city. Its stunning neoclassical architecture, rich history, and impressive collection of tombs and memorials make it a true treasure of Paris. As you step inside, you’ll be awed by the towering dome, which serves as a tribute to French scientific achievement. Be sure to take a moment to appreciate the intricate details of the building’s facade, which pays homage to Greek and Roman architecture as well as French.

Inside, you’ll find a stunning collection of tombs and memorials dedicated to some of France’s most prominent figures, including Voltaire, Rousseau, and Victor Hugo. These tributes provide a unique insight into French history and culture. For those of you who are interested in the sciences, the Panthéon also houses Foucault’s pendulum, a scientific instrument that demonstrates the rotation of the Earth. It’s a fascinating and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

With its rich history, stunning architecture, and impressive collection of tombs and memorials, the Panthéon de Paris is a must-visit attraction for anyone exploring the city. For more attractions, you can check out our blog on Saint Chapelle which is another must-see landmark in Paris, France.

FAQ

What is different about the Pantheon?

The Pantheon in Paris is unique for several reasons. Firstly, it was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, but was later converted into a secular mausoleum for notable French figures. Additionally, its design is a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture, characterized by its grand dome and intricate details. Inside, visitors can find the resting places of famous French luminaries such as Victor Hugo, Voltaire, and Marie Curie, making it a significant cultural and historical site. Finally, the Pantheon is also home to Foucault's Pendulum, an exhibit that visually demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, and is a testament to the scientific advancements that have taken place within its walls.

What is the Pantheon best known for?

The Pantheon in Paris is best known for being a mausoleum for prominent French figures, as well as a masterpiece of neoclassical architecture. Its iconic dome and intricate details make it one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris, and its rich history and cultural significance have made it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

What is the symbolism of Pantheon?

The Pantheon in Paris is a building rich in symbolism. Originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, it was later converted into a secular mausoleum for notable French figures, representing the transition from religious to secular power in France. Its grand dome and neoclassical architecture were designed to evoke the grandeur of ancient Rome, and to symbolize the glory of France. Inside, the crypt houses the remains of prominent French figures, representing the nation's collective memory and honoring the contributions of these individuals to French history and culture. Book your tickets for Pantheon!

What time is best to visit the Pantheon?

To avoid large crowds, it is recommended to visit the Roman Pantheon early in the morning between 9:00 am and 11:00 am. The busiest hours are from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, and the Pantheon is much busier on weekends compared to weekdays.

Can I wear shorts in Pantheon?

As the Pantheon is a Christian church, visitors are required to dress modestly. This means no bare shoulders, and avoid wearing short shorts or mini-skirts. During summer, it is acceptable to wear a pashmina or shawl to cover your shoulders. You can refer to the Vatican dress code for further guidance.
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Denizalp Demir

Enthusiast of architecture, art and antiques. Travelling constantly while also collecting from flea markets, antique dealers. Loves to buy and sell antique, vintage art in general. To enjoy is always the priority.
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