Pantheon Paris France was originally build as a monumental church, but today, it is a burial place for celebrated French statesmen. Among the personalities buried here include Voltaire, Victor Hugo, and Louis Pasteur.
As a monumental building, the Pantheon is…
- 110 meters (360 feet) long, and 84 meters (275 feet) wide…
…with a main facade that is dominated by Corinthian columns, and a magnicifent portico pediment, with a bas-relief artwork by David d’Angers.
The pediment bas-relief allegorically portrays “republic” (in the middle), giving freedom and protection to the “sciences” on the left, represented in the artwork by:
- academics (such as François-Xavier Bichat),
- philosophers (Voltaire),
- writers (Fenelon Pierre Corneille), and
- artists (Jacques Louis David).
In the artwork, “history” is to the right side of “republic“, represented by such French statesmen as Napoleon Bonaparte.
Highlights in the facade also include the building’s 83-meter (272 feet) tall dome, designed with inspiration from Bramante’s “tempietto” (in Rome).
PHOTO: Panthéon, as seen from rue Soufflot, a street named after Panthéon’s chief architect. Church building in the background is Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.
PHOTO: A dedication on the building’s pediment reads: “AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE” or “Gratefully to the Great Men of the Homeland”. Burials at the Panthéon are restricted, allowed only via a parliamentary decree, and for persons that are considered national heroes. Similar system is in place, in fact, at the church of Les Invalides, with the exception that burials there are for notable personalities from French military history, such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vaubanas.
PHOTO: Panthéon, a view from the Eglise Saint-Étienne-du-Mont’sentrance.
Panthéon, designed by Jacques-Germain Soufflot and built from 1758-1790, is an early example of neoclassical architecture…
…with inspiration taken to its planning from St Paul Cathedral in London, and “Tempietto” temple, located within the church of San Pietro in Montorio, in Rome (Italy).
In addition to the beautiful facade, the Pantheon’s interiors contain many highlights.
There are, for example, several notable frescoes, such as “Assumption of St Genevieve” on the inside of the dome, from 1811, and frescoes by Puvis de Chavannes, portraying Charlemagne, King Louis IX, Joan of Arc, and events from Saint Genevieve’s life.
The building is centrally located to the Paris Latin Quartier district.
Nearby, attractions include (in addition to the Saint-Étienne-du-Mont church) the most famous university in France, Sorbonne…as well as theLuxembourg palace and gardens.
As for the origins of the Pantheon Paris France, its history goes back to1744, when King Louis XV was seriously ill in the city of Metz, and swore that he would build a church dedicated to Saint Geneviève, if he would survive the sickness.
Once he got better, the King kept his word, and commissioned Marquis de Marigny to build the St Genevieve church. De Marigny, in turn, choseJacques-Germain Soufflot to design the building (in 1755)…
…and the church was completed in 1790.
Not too long after, however, due to the events of the French Revolutionfrom 1791-1799, the purpose of the building was changed.
The former church was turned into a “pantheon“, a non-religious monument, dedicated to the country’s statesmen.
At the same time, the building was also rebuilt, with 42 church windows built shut, giving the building an new appearance, that of a mausoleum.
Panthéon’s role was, however, further changed several times over the years, first time under Napoleon’s reign in 1806, when it got a dual role as both a burial place (for statesmen), and as a monumental church.
Pantheon Paris France
Address: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
Official website: Pantheon.monuments-nationaux.fr
The last time it was used as a St Genevieve church was in 1885, when Victor Hugo was ceremonially buried there, and from that event, Panthéon became the final resting place for French statesmen, a role it retains to this day.
To plan your visit to Pantheon Paris France, one of the best sources of information is the official website, at pantheon.monuments-nationaux.fr.