Did you know it? Before being the monument dedicated to the Great Men of the French Republic, the Panthéon was a church. We tell you everything about it.
In 1744, Louis XV decides to rebuild the Church of Sainte-Geneviève falling into disrepair on the top of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Indeed, it pales in comparison with the beautiful Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont we were talking about here. In 1764, the first stone is laid by the king himself.
Architect Jacques Germain Soufflot, great admirer of the Greek-Roman architecture, chooses to build it according to a Greek cross plan and this is all the church’s architectural style that is influenced by it, judging by its beautiful Corinthian columns.
Then, a quite chaotic period happens. During the French Revolution, the building is no longer a religious one, but a temple designed to house the ashes of distinguished French citizens fighting for the French freedom. After renovation works carried out by De Quincy, the Panthéon becomes a church again in 1806.
Secular during the July Monarchy, religious under Napoléon Bonaparte then HQ of the rebels during the Commune, the Panthéon keeps getting taken over. In 1885, the building with an impressive dome finally becomes the monument dedicated to the Great Men we know today with Victor Hugo’s funerals.
Since then, the Panthéon has housed the bodies of the great characters of the Republic. In the crypt, we find, among others, the tombs of Rousseau, Voltaire, Emile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, René Cassin, Victor Shoelcher, Jean Monnet, Marie Curie – the first woman to make it – and more recently Simone Veil.
During your visit you can also notice the presence of the famous Foucault pendulum beneath the Pantheon cupola since 1851.
13, Rue Victor Cousin
75005 Paris 5