Close to Luxembourg Gardens, Le Pantheon stands at the heart of the left bank in Paris, the lively and intellectual student district animated by the Sorbonne University, the College de France and famous high schools. The massive 83 meter high Dome of Le Pantheon towers above the top of 61 meter high Sainte Genevieve hill on the left bank. Paris monuments.
The Pantheon was initially a church dedicated to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. It is now a burial place for famous French people. French King Louis XV vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from his illness he would replace the ruined church of the Abbey of Saint Genevieve with a monument worthy of the patron saint of Paris. The king regained his health. Architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot was chosen and the construction began in 1758. Due to financial problems, work proceeded slowly. The church was finally completed in 1790, during the early stages of the French Revolution. The government turned the church into a mausoleum, a place to burry exceptional Frenchmen. The plan is a Greek cross with massive portico of Corinthian columns. The building is 110 meters long by 84 meters wide, and 83 meters high. The spectacular dome reaches a height of 83 meters. The portico has 24 large Corinthian columns. The inscription above the entrance reads “To great men, the grateful homeland”. The large crypt accommodates the vaults of great French public figures, including Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaures and Soufflot, its architect.
Locate Le Pantheon on Paris map. The Paris metro stop of Le Pantheon is Luxembourg metro station on RER B.
Opening hours: Open everyday. From 2 January to 31 March, open from 10am to 6pm. From 1st April to 30 September, open from 10am to 6.30pm. From 1st October to 31 December, open from 10am to 6pm.
Ticket price: 9 euros.
From April to October, it is possible to visit the dome (2 euros) and enjoy the spectacular 360° Paris view. There are 206 steps to climb. The vist lasts 45'.
Le Pantheon was built as a church between 1764 and 1790 to replace the illustrious 11th century Church of Sainte Genevieve Abbey. Sainte Genevieve Abbey was founded in 507 by King Clovis, the first French christian King, baptized in 496, to house his tomb. Sainte Genevieve, a close aid to Clovis and the patron saint of Paris, was buried there in 512. During the 1789 revolution, the Abbey was closed down and the relics were profanated. The 18th century Sainte Genevieve Church, replacing the old Abbey church, was turned into a memorial to illustrious Frenchmen.
The relics of Sainte Genevieve (picture) are now housed in the close by beautiful Saint Etienne du Mont Church.
Le Pantheon now functions as a secular mausoleum and houses among others the remains of Pierre and Marie Curie, the physicists who discovered radioactivity, Voltaire, Rousseau, Emile Zola and Victor Hugo, four famous French writers and philosophers. Jacques-Germain Soufflot, the architect of Le Pantheon, Jean Jaures and Leon Gambetta, two French political leaders, are also buried there. The first person to be buried there was Jean-Paul Marat, a French revolution leader. He was disinterred later as his sanguinary role during the revolution was reasessed.
The Foucault pendulum is named after the French physicist Leon Foucault. It is a simple device conceived to demonstrate the rotation of the Earth. While it had long been known that the Earth rotates, the introduction of the Foucault pendulum in 1851 was the first simple proof of the rotation in an easy-to-see experiment. Today, Foucault pendulums are popular displays in science museums and universities.
The first public exhibition of a Foucault pendulum took place in 1851 in the Paris Observatory. The same year, Foucault made his most famous experiment with a pendulum suspended from the dome of the Pantheon with a 67-m-long wire. An exact copy of the pendulum had been swinging permanently since 1995 under the dome of the Pantheon.