The Panthéon in Paris

by Silke Elzner

This post will explain everything you need to know about visiting the Pantheon, Paris. The building is an important burial site for the greatest men and women of France. It is also an exciting event space and a spectacular architectural masterpiece.

On our tour of Europe we happened to visit two buildings that shared the same name, one in Rome and one in Paris – The Pantheon. While the former is probably the mother of all Pantheons around the world, the latter is of much younger age. The Pantheon in Paris was build in the 1700’s and is also much bigger in size than its Roman cousin. It is located in the Latin Quarter near the Sorbonne university, facing a pretty little “place”. Surrounding it are beautiful neo-classicist buildings with tall columns and impressive portals.

Quite a nice part of the city, with lots of impressive old buildings. Parts of the Roman city wall close-by, and it’s just a couple of steps from the stunning Jardin du Luxemburg. Standing on top of the steps of the Pantheon we notice you can even see the Eiffel Tower.

One of the Most Impressive Buildings in Paris

The Pantheon, Paris is a new attraction for both of us, one that none of us had even thought of visiting before. What a shame! We had no idea what we missed! The Pantheon in Paris is such a stunning building, probably one of the most impressive buildings that we came to see on our tour of Europe. And that’s me saying that after having visited places like Venice, Dubrovnik, and Rome.The Panthéon in Paris

Neo-classistic dome

Originally planned as a church that mimics the general design of the Pantheon in Rome, literally the house of “many Gods”, this building is now a mausoleum. All notable French citizens will eventually find their last resting place here.

Mind you, there are not that many of them interred in the Pantheon. A clear indicator that conditions for interrment are very strict. In fact, it requires a parliamentary act to be considered. But as it turns out, there are quite a few famous people buried here, more than a not-Frenchy like me would probably expect to know.

Last Resting Place of Poets, Engineers, Activisits

There’re famous poets down there in the crypt like Voltaire. His remains were at one point rumoured to have been stolen from the tomb but, alas, when they checked eventually the inside of the coffin his remains were found to be still intact. We see the grave sites of Victor Hugo and Emile Zola. There’s famous politicians like Jean Jaurès, inventors like Braille and engineers, scientists, philosophers and activists.

Marie Curie and her husband Pierre are interred at the Pantheon in Paris. She is the first female person to have found her final resting place here due to her own merits. And then there is also the unforgettable Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who wrote the story of the Little Prince. He is not buried at the Pantheon because his body was never found. Nonetheless, his life is commemorated here with a plaque.

Overall, I was really surprised I actually did know so many French people from the past.

A light and airy design

Exploring the Light and Airy Halls of the Pantheon

But even if you are not that much interested in French history, the French Revolution and the French identity this building is well worth a visit.

The style, neo-classicist with giant domes and upward lines that seem to reach all the way to the heavens, not unlike in a Gothic church, is simply stunning. The oversized artwork is colourful. It invites you to take a closer look at scenes of the French history and French identity. The overall scale of the building is astonishing. The atmosphere light and airy.

Most tombs can be found in the basement, the crypt. You take the stairs down to the more solemn part of the building. Downstairs, long corridors are lined with lots of little chambers that are the last resting place of the famous Frenchmen and women. Even this part of the Pantheon is surprisingly well designed thanks to the soft lights, the round arches and the warm colours of the limestone.

The Pantheon in Paris is a very French building indeed, tasteful and splendid, solemn and awe-inspiring. While entry is not cheap at around EUR 7.50 per person, it is definitely one of these places you shouldn’t miss when you next visit the French capital. More info here on the official website.

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Inside the Pantheon in Paris

Paintings depicting scenes of the French history

Colourful scenes along the walls

National Convention Monument

A lot reminds me of a church inside this building

Christian symbols

Pantheon

Modern art inside the dome

The staircase down to the bathroom

Inside the Crypt

A French statue

Braille

Voltaire

Pantheon in Paris - the place where notable French people are interred

Looking up

Victor Hugo & Emile Zola

The solemn hallways of the crypt

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Marie & Pierre Curie