Pantheon in Paris

Museums and Galleries

The famous Latin Quarter is dominated by the Pantheon. An architectural monument, once not accepted by local residents, today it is one of the main attractions of France. The Pantheon changed many owners and several appointments and eventually acquired the status of the burial vault of famous people.

History of construction

Construction began in 1744. At that time, Louis 15 was about to lead troops into battle and win a long-awaited victory. He failed to participate in the battle - a sudden illness mowed down the king. Approximate believed that the king's days were numbered, but Louis 15 did not give up. He prayed to the patroness of Paris, Saint Genevieve, promising to build a temple in her honor in case of healing. Whether it was his oaths or not, the king soon recovered, but the infected mistress died. At first, grief for her did not allow Louis 15 to design the church, then royal duties.


Nevertheless, the king did not forget about his oath, and 11 years later, the architect Souflo, appointed by him, began designing the temple, which also turned out to be a slow process. The original plan of the cathedral was met with hostility by the Catholic Church, since its base resembled a Greek cross in shape. The architect had to lengthen two wings, due to which the temple looked like a Catholic basilica. Louis XV solemnly laid the first stone only in 15.


The construction of the Church of Saint Genevieve took 25 years. The main difficulties arose with financing - France could not afford such expenses. In addition to them, construction difficulties also appeared. When the construction of the church was almost completed, workers discovered cracks in the pillars that supported the vault. They seemed to be unable to withstand the weight of the dome. 40 years of work was in jeopardy. A whole commission was convened, which issued a verdict: the materials were of high quality, the masonry was correct and there were enough floors. So the problem was the poor construction of the pillars, and only they needed to be fixed.

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Owners of the Pantheon

Neither the architect Souflot nor King Louis 15 found the Cathedral of St. Genevieve in completed form - both of them had died by that time. They did not see the French Revolution, which began shortly after the completion of construction. Riots began throughout Paris, and churches and temples were looted. The Cathedral of St. Genevieve survived, but by that time it had already become the Pantheon. The revolutionaries felt that he should glorify the heroes and become their last refuge. The first count of Mirabeau, buried under the arches of the Pantheon, later turned out to be unworthy of this honor. Two years later, his betrayal was discovered, and the ashes were taken out. In those years, the first burials of the heroes of France - Voltaire, Rousseau, Marat and others - appeared in the underground galleries.

Napoleon, who came to power, returned the status of a church to the Pantheon, and it again became the Cathedral of Saint Genevieve. The temple still served as a burial vault. By order of the emperor, the supreme officials and the worthy, who became famous in France thanks to their talents or exploits, found peace here.

Another revolution in 1830 changed the status of the church again, and it became the Pantheon.

Building architecture

The Pantheon, famous today for its architecture, in the 18th century caused bewilderment and rejection. Residents of Paris are accustomed to buildings made in luxurious baroque. The architect of the Pantheon Souflo decided to bring something new to the city and abandoned traditions. In his project, he combined four styles at once.

In the original version, you can see a portico typical of the Greek style with six columns. It was covered with a dome, which Souflo decided to make in the Romanesque style. The interior of the temple was seen as Gothic architecture. The baroque, familiar to the inhabitants of Paris, found its expression in the columns. Despite the fact that the Pantheon combines four directions at once, modern architects believe that the building is an example of the classical style.


The Pantheon is more than 20 m in diameter. The dome, supported by columns, rises 120 m. Not only the building itself and its interior were thought out and calculated, but the view in front of it. There is a square in front of the Pantheon in a semicircle. Symmetrical buildings border it on different sides. Between them there is a street that ends with the Eiffel Tower.

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The Pantheon underwent architectural changes during the revolution, when its main function was the tomb. By the decision of the rebels, some of the windows were bricked up, which gave the once airy Pantheon a more austere and gloomy look. At the same time, most of the luxurious decorations were removed. In this form, the Pantheon was more in line with its purpose.

Attractions of the Pantheon

Tomb of the Great

Those whose lives have left their mark on the history of France have found their last refuge under the majestic arches of the Pantheon. It was supposed that it would be a kind of mausoleum of the revolution, but, over time, the Pantheon became a burial place for prominent historians, scientists, writers and philosophers. The couple of Curies, Voltaire, Rousseau, Marat found eternal peace here.

crypt of the Pantheon

The Parisians are very jealous of who is given the right to be buried in the famous mausoleum. The ashes of 71 people rest within the walls of the Pantheon. The French make sure that only those who truly deserve this honor find peace here. Therefore, the ashes of a candidate for the Pantheon dungeon are not brought immediately after death, but only when they make sure that he is worthy to be buried under the arches of the building. For example, the ashes of Alexandre Dumas were brought into the Pantheon only in 2002, by that time 132 years had passed since he died. All this time, the French were deciding whether he was a talented writer or not.

The great words “Aux Grands Hommes La Patrie Reconnaissante” are eternal recognition and gratitude for the departed, which express the recognition of the motherland as the best of its people.

There are also symbolically buried in the Pantheon. A memorial plaque has been erected in their honor, and some have buried earth from the place of death. These include one of the founders of the doctrine of negritude Aimé Sezer, the leader of the Haitian revolution François-Dominique Toussaint-Louverture, and the opponent of slavery Louis Delgre.

crypt of the Pantheon

There are only two women in the underground galleries of the Pantheon. The first honor to be buried here went to Sophie Berthelot. She rests with her husband, politician and chemist Marcelin Berthelot, who asked not to separate them after death. The second woman was the famous chemist Maria Skladovskaya-Curie, who was also buried here with her husband.

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"And yet it turns!"

If you look under the dome of the Pantheon, you can see a pendulum. More precisely, a copy of the pendulum, with the help of which, in 1851, it was within these walls that Jean Bernard Leon Foucault proved that the planet still rotates.

Foucault pendulum

The Foucault pendulum is a 28kg metal ball attached under the dome with a metal wire. The pendulum could swing freely in all directions. Sand was poured under the pendulum in such a way that the pendulum touches marked the trajectory of movement on the sand. When the pendulum reached a state of absolute rest, the experiment began. After 32 hours from the start of the pendulum, the rubbed sand showed that the pendulum rotated in a plane around its axis.

Initially, Foucault demonstrated the experience in a narrow circle before the emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. The emperor was delighted with the experience, and invited the physicist to show the experience to the general public in the Pantheon.

Foucault pendulum2

It is curious that it is near the Foucault pendulum that a stone statue of an Egyptian cat is located. Each visitor has the opportunity to give his own interpretation of the neighborhood of symbols of imperturbable eternity and the incessant movement of human thought.

206 steps to the sky

This is the number of steps that visitors will have to overcome, who wish to enjoy the magnificent views from the observation deck in the dome of the Pantheon. From here, a circular panorama of the whole of Paris opens up.

206 steps to the sky

Access to the Pantheon view gallery opens only a few times a day, therefore, it is worth clarifying in advance the time when the viewpoint will be available to visitors

It is worth visiting the Pantheon not only to pay tribute to outstanding French figures and view this architectural masterpiece. If you have the courage, you can climb the observation gallery of the dome and enjoy the picturesque panorama of Paris.

How to get to the Parisian Pantheon

Address: Place du Panthéon, Paris 75005

Phone: + 33 1 44 32 18 00
Metro: Cardinal Lemoine
RER Train: Port-Royal
Hours: 10: 00-18: 30

Ticket prices

  • Adult: 7.50 €
  • Reduced: 6 €