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The Panthéon (Latin: pantheon, from Greek πάνθειον (ἱερόν) '(temple) to all the gods'[1]) is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris, France. It was originally built as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve and to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics but, after many changes, now functions as a secular mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. It is an early example of neo-classicism, with a façade modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's Tempietto. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris. Designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked.

Panthéon, Paris 25 March 2012.jpg
General information
Architectural styleNeoclassicism
Construction started1758 AD
Completed1765 AD
Design and construction
ArchitectJacques-Germain Soufflot
Jean-Baptiste Rondelet



Site and earlier buildingsEdit

The site of the Panthéon had great significance in Paris history, and was occupied by a series of monuments. It was on Mount Lucotitius, a height on the Left Bank where the forum of the Roman town of Lutetia was located. It was also the original burial site of Saint Genevieve, who had led the resistance to the Huns when they threatened Paris in 451. In 508, Clovis, King of the Franks, constructed a church there, where he and his wife were later buried in 511 and 545. The church, originally dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was rededicated to Saint Genevieve, who became the patron saint of Paris. It was at the center of the Abbey of Saint Genevieve, a center of religious scholarship in the Middle Ages. Her relics were kept in the church, and were brought out for solemn processions when dangers threatened the city. [2]


King Louis XV vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from his illness he would replace the dilapidated church of the Abbey of St Genevieve with a grander building worthy of the patron saint of Paris. He did recover, but ten years passed before the reconstruction and enlargement of the church was begun. In 1755 The Director of the King's public works, Abel-François Poisson, marquis de Marigny chose Jacques-Germain Soufflot (1713-1780). to design the church, Soufflot had had studied classical architecture in Rome from 1731-38. Most of his early work was done in Lyon. Saint Genevieve became his life's work; it was not finished until after his death.[3]

His first design was completed in 1755, and was clearly influenced by the work of Bramante he had studied in Italy. It took form of a Greek cross, with four naves of equal length, and monumental dome over the crossing in the center, in and a classical portico with Corinthian columns and a peristyle with a triangular pediment on the main facade. [4] The design was modified five times over the following years, with the addition of a narthex, a choir, and two towers. The design was not finalized until 1777. [5]

The foundations were laid in 1758, but due to economic problems work proceeded slowly. In 1780, Soufflot died and was replaced by his student, Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. The re-modelled Abbey of St. Genevieve was finally completed in 1790, shortly after the beginning of the French Revolution.

The building is 110 metres long by 84 metres wide, and 83 metros high, with the crypt beneath of the same size. The ceiling was supported by isolated columns, which supported an array of barrel vaults and transverse arches. The massive dome was supported by pendentives rested upon four massive pillars. Critics of the plan contended that the the pillars could not support such a large dome. Soufflot responded by strengthening the dome with an iron framework.[6]

The dome is actually three domes, fitting within each other. The first, lowest dome, has a coffered ceiling with rosettes, and is open in the center. Looking through this dome, the second dome is visible, decorated with the fresco The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve by Antoine Gros. The outermost dome, visible from the outside, is built of stone bound together with iron cramps and covered with lead sheathing, rather than of carpentry construction, as was the common French practice of the period. Concealed buttresses inside the walls give additional support to the dome. [7]

The Revolution - The "Temple of the Nation"Edit

The completion of the church coincided with the early stages of the French Revolution. Upon the death of the popular French orator and statesman Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau on 2 April 1791, the National Constituent Assembly, whose president had been Mirabeau, ordered that the building be changed from a church to a mausoleum for the interment of great Frenchmen, retaining Quatremère de Quincy to oversee the project. Mirabeau was the first person interred there, on 4 April 1791.[8] Jean Guillaume Moitte created a pediment sculptural group The Fatherland crowning the heroic and civic virtues that was replaced upon the Bourbon Restoration with one by David d'Angers. Twice since then it has reverted to being a church, only to become again a meeting house dedicated to the great intellectuals of France. The cross of the dome, which was retained in compromise, is again visible during the current major restoration project.

Foucault pendulumEdit

In 1851, physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by constructing a 67-metre (220 ft) Foucault pendulum beneath the central dome. The original sphere from the pendulum was temporarily displayed at the Panthéon in the 1990s (starting in 1995) during renovations at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. The original pendulum was later returned to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, and a copy is now displayed at the Panthéon.[9] It has been listed since 1920 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.[10] From 1906 to 1922 the Panthéon was the site of Auguste Rodin's famous sculpture The Thinker. In 2006, Ernesto Neto, a Brazilian artist, installed "Léviathan Thot", an anthropomorphic installation inspired by the biblical monster. The art installation was in the Panthéon from 15 September 2006 until 31 October for Paris's Autumn Festival.

Recent yearsEdit

In late 2006, a "cultural guerilla movement" calling itself The Untergunther (part of the larger organisation les UX) completed a year-long project by which they covertly repaired the Panthéon's antique clockworks. The Government tried (unsuccessfully) to sue the group for the intervention.

The administration stopped the clock from working by removing one of its parts.[11][12][13]

The buildingEdit

Burial placeEdit


By burying its great people in the Panthéon, the nation acknowledges the honour it received from them. As such, interment here is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for "National Heroes". Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.

Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. In 1907 Marcellin Berthelot was buried with his wife Mme Sophie Berthelot. Marie Curie was interred in 1995, the first woman interred on merit. Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion, heroines of the French resistance, were interred in 2015.[14] Simone Veil was interred in 2018, and her husband Antoine Veil was interred alongside her so not to be separated.[15]

The widely repeated story that the remains of Voltaire were stolen by religious fanatics in 1814 and thrown into a garbage heap is false. Such rumours resulted in the coffin being opened in 1897, which confirmed that his remains were still present.[16]

On 30 November 2002, in an elaborate but solemn procession, six Republican Guards carried the coffin of Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), the author of The Three Musketeers and other famous novels, to the Panthéon. Draped in a blue-velvet cloth inscribed with the Musketeers' motto: "Un pour tous, tous pour un" ("One for all, all for one,") the remains had been transported from their original interment site in the Cimetière de Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France. In his speech, President Jacques Chirac stated that an injustice was being corrected with the proper honouring of one of France's greatest authors.

In January 2007, President Jacques Chirac unveiled a plaque in the Panthéon to more than 2,600 people recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for saving the lives of Jews who would otherwise have been deported to concentration camps. The tribute in the Panthéon underlines the fact that around three quarters of the country's Jewish population survived the war, often thanks to ordinary people who provided help at the risk of their own life. This plaque says :

Sous la chape de haine et de nuit tombée sur la France dans les années d'occupation, des lumières, par milliers, refusèrent de s'éteindre. Nommés "Juste parmi les Nations" ou restés anonymes, des femmes et des hommes, de toutes origines et de toutes conditions, ont sauvé des juifs des persécutions antisémites et des camps d'extermination. Bravant les risques encourus, ils ont incarné l'honneur de la France, ses valeurs de justice, de tolérance et d'humanité.

Which can be translated as follows :

Under the cloak of hatred and darkness that spread over France during the years of [Nazi] occupation, thousands of lights refused to be extinguished. Named as "Righteous among the Nations" or remaining anonymous, women and men, of all backgrounds and social classes, saved Jews from anti-Semitic persecution and the extermination camps. Braving the risks involved, they embodied the honour of France, and its values of justice, tolerance and humanity.

List of people interred or commemoratedEdit

Inside panoramic view of the Panthéon
Year of burial
in the Panthéon
Name Notes
1791 Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau First person honoured with burial in the Panthéon, 4 April 1791. Disinterred on 25 November 1794 and buried in an anonymous grave. His remains are yet to be recovered.[17]
1791 Voltaire  
1792 Nicolas-Joseph Beaurepaire Disappeared
1793 Louis Michel le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau Assassinated deputy, disinterred from the Panthéon. His body was removed by his family on 14 February 1795.
1793 Augustin-Marie Picot Disappeared.
1794 Jean-Paul Marat Disinterred from the Panthéon.
1794 Jean-Jacques Rousseau  
1806 François Denis Tronchet
1806 Claude Louis Petiet
1807 Jean-Étienne-Marie Portalis
1807 Louis-Pierre-Pantaléon Resnier
1807 Louis-Joseph-Charles-Amable d'Albert, duc de Luynes Disinterred from the Panthéon and returned to his family in 1862 at their request.
1807 Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Bévière
1808 Francois Barthélemy, comte Béguinot
1808 Pierre Jean George Cabanis
1808 Gabriel-Louis, marquis de Caulaincourt
1808 Jean-Frédéric Perregaux
1808 Antoine-César de Choiseul, duc de Praslin
1808 Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher Urn with his heart.
1809 Jean Baptiste Papin, comte de Saint-Christau
1809 Joseph-Marie Vien
1809 Pierre Garnier de Laboissière
1809 Jean Pierre, comte Sers Urn with his heart.
1809 Jérôme-Louis-François-Joseph, comte de Durazzo Urn with his heart.
1809 Justin Bonaventure Morard de Galles Urn with his heart.
1809 Emmanuel Crétet, comte de Champnol
1810 Giovanni Battista Caprara
1810 Louis-Vincent-Joseph Le Blond de Saint-Hilaire
1810 Jean Baptiste Treilhard
1810 Jean Lannes, duc de Montebello  
1810 Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu
1811 Louis Antoine de Bougainville  
1811 Charles, cardinal Erskine of Kellie
1811 Alexandre-Antoine Hureau, baron de Sénarmont Urn with his heart
1811 Ippolito Antonio, cardinal Vicenti Mareri
1811 Nicolas-Marie Songis des Courbons
1811 Michel Ordener, First Count Ordener[18]
1812 Jean-Marie Dorsenne
1812 Jan Willem de Winter or in French Jean Guillaume De Winter, comte de Huessen Body only; his heart is sepulchred in his birthplace Kampen, Overijssel.
1813 Hyacinthe-Hugues-Timoléon de Cossé, Comte de Brissac
1813 Jean-Ignace Jacqueminot, Comte de Ham
1813 Joseph Louis Lagrange  
1813 Jean, Comte Rousseau
1813 François-Marie-Joseph-Justin, Comte de Viry
1814 Jean-Nicolas Démeunier
1814 Jean Reynier
1814 Claude-Ambroise Régnier, duc de Massa di Carrara
1815 Antoine-Jean-Marie Thévenard
1815 Claude Juste Alexandre Legrand
1829 Jacques-Germain Soufflot
1885 Victor Hugo  
1889 Lazare Carnot Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.
1889 Théophile-Malo Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.
1889 François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution – Only his ashes are buried there.
1894 Marie François Sadi Carnot Buried immediately after his assassination.
1907 Sophie Berthelot Buried with her husband: Marcellin Berthelot.
1907 Marcellin Berthelot Buried with his wife: Sophie Berthelot, the first woman buried here.
1908 Émile Zola
1920 Léon Gambetta Urn with his heart
1924 Jean Jaurès Interred ten years after his assassination.
1933 Paul Painlevé
1948 Paul Langevin
1948 Jean Perrin Nobel Prize Winner Buried the same day as Paul Langevin.
1949 Victor Schoelcher His father Marc is also in the Panthéon. Victor wanted to be buried with his father.
1949 Félix Éboué Buried the same day as Victor Schoelcher.
1952 Louis Braille Body moved to the Panthéon on the centenary of his death.
1964 Jean Moulin Ashes transferred from Père Lachaise Cemetery on 19 December 1964.
1967 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Commemorated with an inscription in November 1967, as his body was never found.
1987 René Cassin Nobel Prize Winner Entered the Panthéon on the centenary of his birth.
1988 Jean Monnet Entered the Panthéon on the centenary of his birth.
1989 Abbé Baptiste-Henri Grégoire Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution.
1989 Gaspard Monge Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution.
1989 Marquis de Condorcet Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution. The coffin is in fact empty, his remains having been lost.
1995 Pierre Curie Nobel Prize Winner Both Pierre Curie and his wife Marie Skłodowska-Curie were enshrined in the crypt in April 1995.
1995 Marie Curie Nobel Prize Winner Second woman to be buried in the Panthéon, but the first honoured for her own merits, her contributions to science. Her full name was Marie Skłodowska-Curie.
1996 André Malraux Ashes transferred from Verrières-le-Buisson (Essonne) Cemetery on 23 November 1996 on the 20th anniversary of his death.
1998 Toussaint Louverture Commemorative plaque installed on same day as Louis Delgrès
1998 Louis Delgrès Commemorative plaque installed on same day as Toussaint Louverture
2002 Alexandre Dumas, père Reburied here 132 years after his death.
2011 Aimé Césaire Commemorative plaque installed 6 April 2011; Césaire is buried in Martinique.[19]
2015 Jean Zay
2015 Pierre Brossolette
2015 Germaine Tillion Symbolic interment. The coffin of Germaine Tillion at the Panthéon does not contain her remains but soil from her gravesite, because her family did not want the body itself moved.[20]
2015 Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz Symbolic interment. The coffin of Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz at the Panthéon does not contain her remains but soil from her gravesite, because her family did not want the body itself moved.[20]
2018 Simone Veil Originally buried at Montparnasse Cemetery following her death in 2017.[21][22]
2018 Antoine Veil Husband of Simone Veil, originally buried at Montparnasse Cemetery following his death in 2013.[21][22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2005, s.v.
  2. ^ LeBeurre, Alexia, The Patheon- Temple of the Nation (2000), p. 3
  3. ^ "Patroness of Paris: Rituals of Devotion in Early Modern France". Brills Publishers. 1998.
  4. ^ Oudin, Dictionaire des Architectes, pg. 479
  5. ^ Lebeurre (2000), pg. 9
  6. ^ Lebeurre (2000), pp. 9-10
  7. ^ Lebeurre (2000), pp. 12-13
  8. ^ Comte de Mirabeau had been elected President of the National Constituent Assembly on 29 January 1791. Upon his death, the Assembly decreed that the church of St. Genevieve should be [translation] "destined to receive the ashes of great men," and that "Honore Riqueti-Mirabeau is adjudged worthy to receive that honour." Mirabeau (Antonina Vallentin; trans. by E.W. Dickes). New York: The Viking Press, 1948. pp. 496-97, 522.
  9. ^ "Foucault's Pendulum: Interesting Thing of the Day". 2004-11-08. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
  10. ^ Mérimée PA00088420, Ministère français de la Culture. ‹See Tfd›(in French) Ancienne église Sainte-Geneviève, devenue Le Panthéon
  11. ^ Jon Lackman (2012-01-20). "The New French Hacker-Artist Underground". Wired.
  12. ^ King, Emilie Boyer (2007-11-26). "Undercover restorers fix Paris landmark's clock". Guardian Unlimited. Guardian Media Group.
  13. ^ Sage, Adam (2007-09-29). "Underground 'terrorists' with a mission to save city's neglected heritage". The Times. Times Newspapers Ltd.
  14. ^ Angelique Chrisafis (1970-01-01). "France president Francois Hollande adds resistance heroines to Panthéon | World news". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-05-30.
  15. ^ Willsher, Kim (2018-06-30). "France pays tribute to Simone Veil with hero's burial in the Panthéon". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-11-29.
  16. ^ Voltaire (1976-01-01). Candide. ISBN 9781105311604.
  17. ^ Doyle, William (2002). The Oxford History of the French Revolution. UK: Oxford University Press. p. 283. ISBN 978-0-19-925298-5.
  18. ^ (French) Charles Mullié "Michel Ordener." Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850, Paris, 1852.
  19. ^ France Guide (2011). "Aimé Césaire joins Voltaire and Rousseau at the Panthéon in Paris". French Government Tourist Office. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  20. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2017-01-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ a b * Roe, David (2017-07-05). "France buries women's rights icon Simone Veil".
  22. ^ a b Katz, Brigit. "France's Simone Veil Will Become the Fifth Woman Buried in the Panthéon". Retrieved 7 July 2017.

Books citedEdit

  • Lebeurre, Alexia (2011). the Pantheon - Temple of the Nation. Paris: Éditions du Patrimoie. ISBN 978-2-858-223435.
  • Oudin, Bernard. Dictionnaire des Architectes (in French). Seghers }date= 1994. ISBN 2-232-10398-6.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 48°50′46″N 2°20′45″E / 48.84611°N 2.34583°E / 48.84611; 2.34583