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Landmarks of Paris: The Pantheon

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The Pantheon is a monumental structure with a large stone dome situated in the Latin Quarter of Paris. This landmark is famous for its grandiose Greco-Roman architecture and stunning frescos inside depicting the French monarchy.

Interestingly, the use of this building (and some of its elements) changed back and forth through the centuries. Different French leaders had different views on what this construction should represent.

History of the Pantheon

The construction of this important landmark took place in the 18th century, between 1758 and 1790.

Originally, King Louis XV intended for it to be a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, replacing the run-down church of Abbey of St. Genevieve. The new church was almost constructed when French Revolution began in 1789.

The Pantheon during French Revolution

The French Revolution brought a lot of changes along with it.

In 1790, Charles, Marquis de Vilette ( a French writer and politician) put forward his proposal that this structure needs to become a temple dedicated to liberty. His vision was for the Pantheon to turn into a mausoleum housing the remains of famous French citizens, similar to Pantheon in Rome. The National Assembly agreed with this proposal and formally adopted it.

A new sign was placed above the Pantheon’s entrance: “A grateful nation honors its great men.” Instead of the statue of St. Genevieve originally intended for the top of the dome, a cross was put temporarily. The cross was expected to be replaced by the statue representing fame, but this did not happen either. Instead, a flag was placed on top of the dome.

In the meantime, Patheon started performing its function of the mausoleum. The funeral of Count Mirabeu (a prominent figure at the early stages of the French Revolution) was held there. Ashes of Voltaire were placed in Pantheon in 1791.

Later, remains of several revolutionaries were brought there as well, but then some of them got removed. For example, Mirabeau was later declared an enemy of the revolution, due to his connection with King Louis XVI. He was no longer eligible for burial at a place like the Pantheon and his remains were moved to another cemetery.

In order to prevent such hiccups in the future, an interesting rule was instituted. Only people who had been dead for ten or more years would be placed in Pantheon. This seemed to resolve the issue.

Later, during Napoleon’s rule, Pantheon’s church properties were restored, although it continued keeping the function of mausoleum. After the fall of Napoleon, Louis XVIII restored Pantheon to the Catholic Church.

The Pantheon Today

In 1881, the Church of St. Genevieve became a mausoleum again, and so it is expected to remain for the foreseeable future.

Among modern people buried there are scientists and Nobel laureates Marie Curie and Pierre Curie and the dancer and singer Josephine Baker. Alexander Dumas’ remains were also transferred to Pantheon 132 years after his death back in 1870.

If you would like to visit the Pantheon today, you will need to pay 13 euros for an adult ticket. Kids and young people under the age of 26 have free admission. It’s always advantageous to buy tickets online to avoid the wait. However, you can still buy tickets at the entrance if you’d like. The tickets are available on the official Pantheon website along with other useful information for your visit.

The monument is generally open for admission from 10 am till 6:00 pm or 6:30 pm depending on season. Be aware that on select days, the monument might be closed or have different hours. It’s advisable to check the schedule to make sure you are able to enter on your preferred day.

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