Note about the Pantheon
Before we get into history and details of the Pantheon itself, let me tell you why it is a top five stop in Paris. The panoramic view of Paris from the Pantheon is unmatched. You can see all of the top monuments from here. And don’t worry, it’s not a straight vertical climb. There are about 276 steps in the climb to the top of the Pantheon (les colonnades. It’s a fairly easy walk which combines both flat and sloping surfaces. Because it’s broken into sections, it’s not particularly exhausting even for an older person and again, you get to see the absolute best panoramic view of all of Paris.
The Panthéon Paris (Latin Pantheon, from Greek Panthéon, meaning “Every god”) is one of the popular Paris tourist attractions. It is a building that can be found in the Latin Quarter of Paris, France. The Pantheon was originally built as a church and was dedicated to St. Genevieve, but after many renovations and updates, it now acts both as a place which people can go to worship as well as a place known that people have come know as being famous for the burial grounds.
The Pantheon is actually the first major Paris tourist attraction built between 1764 and 1790 before the Arc de Triomphe or Eiffel Tower came along.
Architecturally, the building is an early example of Neoclassicism, with a
facade that was modeled after the Pantheon in Rome (its name sake) surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante’s “Tempietto” (Donte Bramante built the small commemorative martyrium (tomb) in the courtyard of the San Pietro in Montorio).
Located in the 5th arrondissement on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon has a view which looks out over all of Paris. The Panthéon’s architect, Jacques-Germain Soufflot, had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the gothic cathedral with classical principles. Sadly. Soufflot died before his work was achieved, and his plans were not completely followed. The transparency he had planned for his masterpiece was not attained. Nevertheless, it is one of the most important architectural achievements of its time and the first great neoclassical monument.
As with most famed buildings, the Pantheon Paris has its unique story. The reason the it was was built was to replace the damaged Sainte-Genevieve church under the orders of Louis XV who was putting this monument up as a gratitude to God after his health had recovered. Soufflot was chosen for accomplishing the task. He wanted to have the Gothic style combined with the classical structure. Because of financial problems, Soufflot could not finish the building during his life; he died before seeing it completed and his pupil who finished it, did not exactly have the same ideas of his master and made some changes. However there is little doubt that this building is one of the greatest neoclassical monuments and a true masterpiece.
Shortly after the Pantheon was built (which was called back then the Sainte-Genevieve Church), came the French Revolution. It was then when the Revolutionist government changed the church into a mausoleum, a place to bury exceptional Frenchmen who had sacrificed their lives for their country or who had done something great for France. The Pantheon flipped back and forth to a church over the years but eventually assumed its lasting role as a burial place for martyrs and brilliant French citizens for good.
Again, we can really stress enough to Paris tourists or visitors, that the sights that this building offer are quite fantastic. You can see literally see almost all of Paris. The inside architecture is visually amazing: it has the Gothic decorations combined with the mainly classical style of the building, creating such an admirable neoclassical monument. The Pantheon is a must-see when you visit Paris, both because of the imposing architecture it has and in respect to the people that made the world a better place.
One additional fact about the Paris Pantheon is that it was the location where astronomer Jean Bernard Léon Foucault held his famous experiment in 1851 that proved that the world spins on an axis.
Because Louis Napoleon Bonapartre had been informed of Foucault’s works, he asks him to carry out the pendulum experiment in a prestigious place : the Pantheon of Paris. The experiment took place on March 31, 1851. The sphere was 28 Kg and the wire was 67 m (219,8 feet) long.
Later in 1851, the Foucault pendulum moved to the Musée des arts et Métiers.
The Pantheon Crypt
The Pantheon has a crypt which is in the subterranean chamber which is the final resting place for many well known (and some historically famous) French writers, poets and scientists.
These important people include:
- Victor Hugo
- Emile Zola
- Jean Moulin
- Louis Braille
- Marie Curie
So as you enjoy yourself wandering the beautiful city of Paris, don’t forget to include the Pantheon right up there in your list of stops with the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Louvre Museum and the Palace of Versailles. It’s unlikely you will enjoy many more photos of Paris than the ones you can get at the top of the Pantheon!