Panthéon was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, but after many changes now combines liturgical functions with its role as a famous burial place. It is an early example of Neoclassicism, with afacade modelled after the Pantheon in Rome surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's 'Tempietto'. Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. Marie Curie is the only woman interred based on her own merits.

King Louis XV vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from an illness he would replace the ruined church of Sainte-Geneviève with an edifice worthy of the patron saint of Paris. The Marquis of Marigny was entrusted with the work. He had sponsored the architect Soufflot, whom he chose for the construction of the new Église Sainte-Geneviève, a major work in the neoclassical style. The overall design was that of a Greek cross with massive portico of Corinthian columns. Its ambitious lines called for a vast building 110 meters long by 84 meters wide, and 83 meters high. No less vast was its crypt.

The foundations were laid in 1758, but due to financial difficulties, it was only completed after Soufflot's death, by his pupil Jean-Baptiste Rondelet, in 1789. As it was completed at the start of the French Revolution, the new Revolutionary government ordered it to be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen, with a pediment of The Fatherland crowning the heroic and civic virtues by Jean Guillaume Moitte (replaced on the Bourbon Restoration with one by David d'Angers).

Twice since then it has reverted to being a church, only to become again a temple to the great intellectuals of France. In 1851, physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by his experiment conducted in the Panthéon, by constructing a 67 meter Foucault pendulum beneath the central dome. The original iron sphere from the pendulum was returned to the Panthéon in 1946 from the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. From 1906 to 1922 this was the site of the famous sculpture The Thinker.

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Founded: 1758-1790
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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User Reviews

Marcos Chavarria Ch (3 months ago)
I just enjoyed the mystique of the place, the air felt like from centuries ago. It was a great place to have photos taken, the culture sweats in this place. A must see architecture, all parties are welcomed, even kids. Highly recommended.
Aikaterini Stamou (8 months ago)
Impressive monument and museum. Is overwhelming to see the burial grounds of some of the most influential people ever lived. And Foucault's pendulum was spectacular!! Must visit place!
Aikaterini Stamou (8 months ago)
Impressive monument and museum. Is overwhelming to see the burial grounds of some of the most influential people ever lived. And Foucault's pendulum was spectacular!! Must visit place!
Ido Naim (8 months ago)
Impressive monument and the burial grounds of some of the most famous and influential people ever lived. A converted cathedral, older than 240 years. Super big, spacious and was built to mimic St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The audio guide is pretty messy and requires you to go with the brochure as well. Make sure to not confuse the location market numbers with the audio guide numbers.
Ido Naim (8 months ago)
Impressive monument and the burial grounds of some of the most famous and influential people ever lived. A converted cathedral, older than 240 years. Super big, spacious and was built to mimic St. Paul's Cathedral in London. The audio guide is pretty messy and requires you to go with the brochure as well. Make sure to not confuse the location market numbers with the audio guide numbers.
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