Whilst hardly 'off the beaten path' the Pantheon rarely features high on the list of must sees in Paris (as much to do with the fact there are SO many things to see!). Which is a pity and this stunning and grandiose 'secular temple' is well worth seeing.
It was originally commissioned by Louis XV as a church for the city's patron, St Genevieve, but, post-revolution, it became that secular temple for 'the great men of France'. Interned in the crypt include the remains of Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, Zola and Resistance leader Jean Moulin. Next door is the more modest, but much more humane, Eglise St Etienne du Mont - where the remains of St Genevieve are now to be found - and the church has the only surviving rood screen in Paris.
Both are to be found in the Place de Pantheon, behind the Sorbonne in the Latin Quarter with its dome easily seen from the Seine near to the rear of Notre Dame.
The entrance of the crypt is in the back of the Pantheon, on the right, by a monumental staircase.
The broad dimensions surprise because the crypt covers the entire surface of the Pantheon building. There are four galleries, each one under an arm of the nave joined by a central room. There is room for 300 tombs; there are only 73 today.
To be admitted here one has to be considered a National Hero by a parliamentary act.
When looking at the names I must say that today a number of these "national heroes" are less illustrious than others. Some are just forgotten even by the French not to speak of foreign visitors. Not many are still illustrious in this 21th c.
Still famous are mostly writers and philosophers such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Émile Zola, André Malraux, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Voltaire or scientists such as Pierre Curie and Marie Curie, Braille, Berthelot, Lagrange and the explorator Bougainville.
Jean Moulin head of the Resistance during WW II is also well known. A few politicians are still known like Jaures - probably because he was murdered just before WWI - and Jean Monnet a founder of the European Union. For many others "sic transit gloria mundi" is not inappropriate!
What intrigued me are those personalities buried in the Pantheon who were subsequently excluded. Mirabeau, Lepelletier and Marat, actors of the French Revolution, are among them.
The inscription above the entrance reads AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISSANTE (lit. "To the great men, the homeland [is] grateful"). By burying its great men in the Panthéon, the country acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment in the Pantheon is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for "National Heroes".
As you enter the subterranean chamber, you will first see the crypts of Voltaire and Rousseau (the 2 famous French philosophers), as well as the architect of the Pantheon, Soufflot.
Other famous people who were interred at the crypt include:
Victor Hugo ("Les Misérables" and "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame")
Louis Braille (who invented the Braille system for the visually handicapped)
Marie Curie (Scientist and Nobel Prize winner, first woman to be interred in the Pantheon)
The last person to be interred here is Alexandre Dumas ("The Three Musketeers"). On 30 November 2002, six Republican Guards carried his coffin of Alexandre Dumas to the Pantheon. Draped in a blue-velvet cloth inscribed with the Musketeers' motto: "Un pour tous, tous pour un" ("One for all, all for one"), his remains were transported from their original interment site in the Cimetière de Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France. In his speech, President Jacques Chirac stated that an injustice was being corrected with the proper honoring of one of France's greatest authors.
The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince) is one of my all-time favourite books, and its author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, is commemorated with a plaque in the Pantheon.
Besides writing, Saint-Exupéry was also an aviator. He disappeared on a reconnaissance flight over the Mediterranean in July 1944. His plane had allegedly crashed, and his body was never found (though it is speculated that an unidentifiable body wearing French colors which was found several days after the crash at the east of the Islands of Frioul, south of Marseille, belonged to him).
This plaque at the Pantheon is dedicated to him.
In 1851, Leon Foucault (physicist) demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by his experiment conducted in the Panthéon. He constructed a 67 m pendulum beneath the central dome.
Back in those days, it was well known that Earth rotated: in addition to the passage of the sun and stars, scientific evidence included Earth's measured polar flattening and equatorial bulge. However, Foucault's pendulum was the first simple proof of the rotation in an easy-to-see experiment, and it created a sensation in the academic world and society at large.
The interior is covered with murals (some depicting scenes from the life of St Genevieve - see Photo 3, Joan of Arc etc), and it houses several statues as well (mostly dedicated to the heroes of the Revolution and the Republic).
As befitting a tomb, the windows were covered to make the interior dim.
The mural on the dome depicts the assumption of members of the Royal House of Bourbon into heaven (see Photo 2). It was also from this dome that Foucault hung a pendulum and demonstrated the rotation of the earth, in 1851. The pendulum we now see in the Pantheon is a replica.
The Pantheon is located in arrondissement 5, and is near to the Sorbonne University. It is an example of neoclassicism architecture, and its impressive facade is modelled after the Pantheon in Rome (e.g. the large Corinthian columns). The floor plan shows a Greek-cross layout, 110 m long and 85 m wide. The large dome reaches a height of 83 m.
This building was originally a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, but it is now a civic building, a mausoleum which houses the remains of distinguished French citizens and national heroes. Its architect was Jacques-Germain Soufflot (his remains are also interred here).
Besides the Crypt, the Pantheon also houses the Foucault Pendulum. Until 1922, Rodin's "The Thinker" (Le Penseur) sculpture was also housed here.
This is another of those Paris landmarks that has been written about a thousand times before, but I was so gobsmacked by it that I felt I needed to say something. I was expecting something akin to the Pantheon in Rome, which, although equally as fascinating, is entirely different. I was especially fascinated by the clock, as I had never seen anything like it before and to someone as unscientific as me, it was something to truly ponder and wonder how on earth it worked.
I was also very interested in the tombs of so many very famous people from Victor Hugo to Louis Braille, Alexander Dumas and so many more. Watch your feet on the stairs to the crypt however as they are very narrow and spirally and there are lots of people going both ways. This is just a word of warning from an old 60 year old who is paranoid about falling down stairs.
The Pantheon was a morning well spent and I commend it to any future Paris visitors.
In 1744, King Louis XV recovered from a serious illness. In his gratitude, he commissioned architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot to construct a new church on the left bank, in honor of Sainte Genevieve. Following Soufflot's death, his protege Rondelet continued the work. It was completed in 1789--just in time for the Revolution.
After the overthrow of the monarcy, Le Pantheon became the France's Hall of Fame. Here are the tombs and memorials to France's great men and their deeds. Here are the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, and other great writers. Also interred here are the remains of World War II resistance hero Jean Moulin.
The building itself is an outstanding example of neo-classical architecture, with massive Corinthian columns and a huge dome. Not to be missed.
Le Panthéon de Paris is a magnificent late 18th century Neoclassical edifice whose construction was ordered by Louis XV. It was originally built to replace an older church called église Sainte-Geneviève and was to carry its name. However, the completion of le Panthéon coincided with the French Revolution which led the new government to turn it into a mausoleum. Le Panthéon today is the burial church for many great names such as Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hugo, to name only a few. The architecture of the building is outstanding and a climb up the massive dome offers great unobstructed views of the City of Light.
Pantheon is beautiful building in the Latin Quarter in Paris. It was church dedicated to St. Genevieve, but now is a burial place. It is look like Pantheon in Rome with a facade modeled. It is Neoclassicism with combination of lightness and brightness of gothic cathedral. Interior Dome is the most beautiful part of building
The Panthéon is a beautiful former-church in the Latin Quarter of Paris. Like most other famous French buildings, it has breathtaking architecture. Now, many tourists visit it to honor many famous French names that are buried there, such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Marie Curie, and Louis Braille.
The part of the Panthéon I found most interesting to see was the Foucault pendulum. It demonstrates the rotation of the Earth, making a full circle in a little over a day. Of course, Foucault was French himself.
Full price tickets cost 7 Euros.
Inside the Pantheon in Paris you will find also an interesting experiment - Foucault's Pendulum - set up by the physicist Leon Foucault in 1851 who suspended a 28kg ball on the 67 meter high dome of the Pantheon.
The ball of the pendulum is free to balance, and it swings from side to side, but because of the rotation of the Earth it's rotating a full circle every 32.7 hours. At Pantheon they drew a segment of the circle showing hours from 6 to 24, so the pendulum also can show time because it's motion is constant and predictable.
The Pantheon was actually a abbey built by Louis XV for his recovery from desease and was later changed into a mausoleum for the last retreat and a rest in peace (only disturbed by noisy tourists) of 80 famous persons (grands hommes de l`epoque de la liberte de francaise)- Victor Hugo, Voltaire and Rousseau - to name a few of them.
Entree Fee is 7,50, opening hours in summer are 10-18:30.
The Pantheon was ment to be a mausoleum to "receive the bodies of great men who died in the period of French liberty". The building alternated between being a church and mausoleum throughout the last century. In 1985, following the collapse of stone work in the vaults, it has had to be closed for quite a time. Now reopened and accepting visitors (fee) including in the crypts where lies the mortal remains of Frances honored deads : Mirabeau, Voltaire (first ones to be buried here in 1791), Rousseau (1794), Hugo (1885), Zola (1908). Alexandre Dumas' body was moved here in sign of great appreciation recently (2002), being the last to put to rest in the Pantheon.