Top 10 Interesting Facts About The Pantheon in Paris
“But have you visited the Pantheon yet?”
Get ready to hear this at least once a day during your first week or so in the French capital. It’s one of the attractions that locals love to push attention on, drawing focus away from the boring old Eiffel Tower (in their eyes).
The Pantheon of Paris is the city’s mausoleum; a burial place for some of the most important individuals to have come and gone. A place for national heroes, if you will.
Here are 10 things you likely don’t know about this beautiful structure.
OPENING HOURS: Monday to Sunday — 10am to 6:30pm
ADDRESS: Place du Panthéon, 75005 Paris, France
TRAIN STATION: Cardinal Lemoine
1. The First Woman was Buried in the Pantheon in 1995
To put this outrageous fact into perspective, the Pantheon was constructed between 1757 and 1791. Since then, it has only been open to the burials of influential men who find themselves deceased in the city of Paris.
It wasn’t until (far too) recently in 1995 that the first ever woman was permitted burial in the building.
This woman was Marie Curie, the phenomenal French chemist and physicist. You might know her as the first woman ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize; or the first woman to ever win it twice!
2. There are only Five Women Buried in the Pantheon
Since Curie, the remains of four other woman have been allowed residence inside of the Pantheon. Three on merit, and one on principle.
Germaine Tillion, Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Simone Veil were added as residents thanks to their contributions to humanity. Veil was the most recent addition, following her death in 2017; but it took major riots by the people of Paris before the city even considered allowing her remains to rest here.
Sophie Berthelot is the fourth woman, and was permitted entry into the Pantheon solely because she and her husband passed away on the same day, and he was to be buried here.
3. It was Modeled After the Pantheon in Rome
Rome’s Pantheon was the first in Europe, and it inspired the construction of this one in Paris. There are many similarities between the two, especially fi you look at them solely from a dome-architectural perspective.
The difference between them is that the Pantheon in Rome is still used as a church, while Paris’ is, as we know, a mausoleum.
4. The Greatest Public Figures are Buried in the Crypt
The Crypt is the underground of the Pantheon that spans the entire surface area of the structure.
The Crypt is said to be where the most important deceased figures are kept, including an array of French writers, a few filmmakers, and the building’s architect who passed away before its completion.
Some names of Crypt dwellers that you might recognize: Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Alexander Dumas, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo…
5. The Pantheon was the First Ever Declaration of Earth’s Rotation
It was right here in the entrance of the Pantheon that Leon Foucault built his giant pendulum in attempt to show the French how the Earth rotates upon its own axis.
The original pendulum was moved a while ago to live permanently at the National Conservatory of Art. The pendulum in the Pantheon today is just a replica.
6. The Pantheon has the Best Panoramic Views of Paris
That it does. Make your way up into the dome towers of the Pantheon and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the entire city.
This is one of the best views available at ground level, with the only other one as prominent being the dome tower atop the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.
7. It was the Revolutionist Government who Changed its Function
Like the Pantheon in Rome, the Paris Pantheon was originally constructed to function as a church for the people. The Roman one fulfills this purpose to this day.
It was the post Revolutionary government who decided to change the function of the Pantheon from church to mausoleum. They felt they needed a suitable place for heroes to rest, following the incredible unrest that the city was overcoming.
8. The Pantheon is a Combination if Neoclassical and Gothic Architecture
Despite passing away before seeing its completion, the Pantheon’s architect, Jacques-German Soufflot, devised a very specific plan for a neoclassical exterior and gothic interior.
The intention being that the outside should replicate the Roman structure that they were proudly copying, and the interior should take a more local approach to design.
9. There is a Famous Inscription in the Walls
Made famous by travelers who have come, marveled, and left again, the inscription carved into the Pantheon’s facade reads ‘AUX GRANDS HOMMES LA PATRIE RECONNAISANTE’.
This translates to ‘to great men, the grateful homeland’. Now we know why it took so long for a woman to crack an invite.
10. It is One of Paris’ Most Visited Attractions
The Pantheon remains one of the single most important tourist attractions in Paris, brining in numbers close to that of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur Basilica.
Everyday, thousands of people around the world find an hour or two in which to experience the Pantheon in full. It’s a sight that requires little time and effort to enjoy, but not one that you want to be rushed in either.
Since you’re in the Latin Quarter, you’re in prime position for a free guided walking tour either before or after your Pantheon visit. A full dose of French history and culture in one go — why not?