The Panthéon came about because of a vow that King Louis XV made to God in
1744; should he recover from his illness, he would build a replacement for the
ruined church of the Abbey of St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. He did recover and
Jacques-Germain Soufflot was commissioned to design it.
Construction of the Panthéon began in 1757 in the neoclassical style, its
overall design being that of a Greek cross with massive Corinthian columns. It
had a triple dome decorated with stunning frescoes by the famous artist Antoine
Gros. But though the foundation was laid in 1758, economic problems meant that
work progressed slowly and Soufflot didn’t get to see the end of his project
as he died in 1780. He was replaced by his pupil Jean-Baptiste Rondelet, but
his plans were not entirely followed, as Rondelet had different ideas.
The remodeled Abbey of St. Genevieve was completed just in time (1790) to see
the beginnings of the French Revolution. But when statesman Honoré Gabriel
Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, died a year later, the Revolutionist government
changed the church into a mausoleum for the burial of great Frenchmen, the first
of whom to be interred was Mirabeau.
Since this time, it swapped between being a church and a burial place for
martyrs and brilliant French citizens, and it is the latter that it continues to
be, as well as a meeting house for the great intellectuals of France.
It was here that, in 1851, physicist Léon Foucault constructed a 219.8 ft
(67m) Foucault pendulum underneath the central dome to demonstrate the rotation
of the earth. The original pendulum is now kept in the Musée des Arts et
Métiers, but a replica is displayed at the Panthéon.
The Panthéon has a vast crypt in a subterranean chamber, the entrance of
which has an inscription that reads “AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE
RECONNAISSANTE" (“To the great men, the grateful homeland"), and those buried
here were acknowledged by the Nation for the honor they brought it.
Among those worthy are writers Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, and Émile
Zola, and a high-profile member of the French Resistance, Jean Moulin, as well
as Maria Skłodowska-Curie, Polish-French physicist and chemist famous for her
pioneering research on radioactivity, Louis Braille, who invented Braille, Jean
Jaurès, a French Socialist leader, and Soufflot, the architect of the
More recently, the coffin of Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), the author of The
Three Musketeers, was carried to the Panthéon in a great ceremony (2002), and
in 2007, President Jacques Chirac unveiled a plaque there recognizing
2,600 people who saved the lives of Jews during the Second World War.
One of the most important architectural achievements of its time and one of
the greatest Neoclassical monuments, the Panthéon is a true masterpiece. Its
view is quite fantastic, too; you can see almost all of Paris
The closest Métro is Cardinale Lemoine and the closest RER station is
Luxembourg station on line B. Photos are only allowed in some areas.
April 1 to September 30: 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
October 1 to March 31: 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Reduced : €4.50
Minors under 18, 18-25 years old EU citizens and the disabled: free
Phone: +33 1 4432 1800