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10 Interesting Pantheon Paris Facts You May Not Know About

Initially constructed as a church to serve as the final resting place for several notable figures from French history, the Paris Pantheon is a popular attraction in Paris.

The Paris Pantheon remains a top tourist attraction, attracting over a million visitors annually.

However, here are the top ten interesting facts about the Pantheon in Paris that you may be unaware of.

Let us learn more about them briefly.

1. Construction of The Paris Pantheon

Construction of The Paris Pantheon
Image: Live-for-art.com

The first and foremost fact about Paris Pantheon that you must know about is its construction.

Like several other European buildings and attractions, the Pantheon is not the first structure to stand on the present site.

The Pantheon’s current location saw several monuments standing on itself before the Pantheon came into existence.

The location was the original burial site of Saint Genevieve, the notable human who led the resistance to the Huns who threatened Paris in 451.

After this, a Church was constructed on the Pantheon’s site in 508, and it was rededicated to Saint Genevive later, who also became the patron saint of Paris.

The Pantheon’s construction started in 1758 and was completed after 32 years in 1790.

2. Original intentions behind the Paris Pantheon

One of the most interesting facts about the Pantheon in Paris is that the Pantheon was originally intended to be a church.

It was supposed to be dedicated to Saint Genevieve, the patron of Paris, and it was commissioned by King Louis XV in 1744 after the latter recovered from an illness.

King Louis vowed to replace Abbey’s church with a new one, honoring Saint Genevieve.

The King appointed Jacques-Germain Soufflot, a notable French architect who designed the structure in 1755.

3. The Paris Pantheon is a classic example of Neoclassicism

Souffloy, the Pantheon’s architect, desired to combine the elements of Neoclassical architecture with Gothic architecture.

As a result, the Pantheon Paris is a classic example of Neoclassicism.

The combination of tall columns, Roman vaults, and a central dome draws inspiration from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London.

4. Dome of The Paris Pantheon

The Paris Pantheon’s dome is 83 meters high and is visible from all over the city of Paris.

The Pantheon’s Dome is a crucial architectural element of the Paris Pantheon, and it serves a functional purpose by offering panoramic city views.

Visitors can access the Dome by getting the Paris Pantheon Admission ticket and climbing 270 stairs.

Climbing the dome also offers a view of the intricate details and frescoes of the interior.

The Dome exudes grandeur mixed with Gothic architectural styles.

The Dome’s construction was a significant engineering accomplishment considering its construction period.

5. Crypt of The Paris Pantheon

One of the most interesting facts about the Pantheon in Paris is the existence of the crypt beneath the main building.

Visitors must climb down 40 stairs to access the crypt and do not need separate tickets to explore the crypt.

Its creation in 1885 marked the beginning of its role as a mausoleum of important French figures.

Victor Hugo was the first one to be laid to rest, paving the way for other French Figures to be laid to rest here in the days to come.

6. The Paris Pantheon has undergone several changes.

One of the significant facts about the Paris Pantheon is that it has undergone several major changes and modifications.

These modifications and changes reflect the changing nature of France’s political and social landscape.

Post the French Revolution, the government of France changed the Pantheon’s purpose to honor great French men and women.

The Paris Pantheon was restored several times to a church from 1828 to 1830 and 1851 to 1870.

After serving these religious purposes, the structure is now converted into a civic building that serves as the resting place of notable French figures from different walks of life.

7. The Paris Pantheon’s interior exudes elements from French history.

The Paris Pantheon’s interior is as breathtaking as its exterior.

Visitors can marvel at the beautiful interior with eye-catching mosaics painted over the roof.

The mosaics and paintings in the Pantheon’s interior depict scenes from French history.

Some of the mosaics and paintings were created by Puvis de Chavannes, adding to the symbolism and significance of French culture and history.

8. Serves as a Repository of Notable French Figures

One of the most interesting facts about the Paris Pantheon is that the building also serves as a repository for several French citizens who have contributed significantly to their respective fields.

In December 2021, the Pantheon was said to be housing the remains of at least 81 people, 75 men and 6 women from different walks of life.

Some notable figures in the Pantheon include Marie Curie and her husband, Pierre Curie, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, among others.

These figures include journalists, writers, scientists, among others.

9. Changing Nature of the Paris Pantheon’s Building

Another notable fact about Paris Pantheon is the changing nature of the building.

From serving as a church to a mausoleum to serving as a civic building, the structure has served several roles over centuries.

Today, it serves as the resting place of several French citizens and is a significant tourist spot in Paris.

The multifaceted nature of the Paris Pantheon’s building simultaneously shows the changing nature of the structure and the French socio-cultural status.

10. Witness of Scientific Discovery and Advancements 

Apart from witnessing the changing religious and political norms, the Paris Pantheon building has also been the site of a major scientific breakthrough or advancement.

In 1851, Leon Foucault showcased a diurnal motion at the Pantheon Paris, representing the movement of Earth’s rotation.

To do this, he suspended a pendulum from the ceiling, and its copy is still available in the Pantheon. It is known as Foucault’s Pendulum, and it is under the central dome of the building.

Featured Image: Britannica.com

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