Built between 1764 and 1790, the Paris Pantheon was the first major monument of the French capital and the first place from which Paris could be seen from the heights. Mainly because its construction predates that of monuments such as the Eiffel Tower. It is located in the Latin Quarter, very close to the Luxembourg Gardens.
The name of the monument, Pantheon, comes from the Greek word “pantheion”, meaning “of all the gods”. The Pantheon in Paris was designed with the intention of combining the simplicity of Gothic architecture with the majesty of classical Greek architecture.
The construction of the Panthéon was at first begun by Jacques-Germain Soufflot, finally completed by Jean Baptiste Rondelet and is one of the first neoclassical monuments in France. In the 18th century, it was originally intended to be a church dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Geneviève. However, the financial difficulties of the monarchy and the premature death of Soufflot delayed the construction works that lasted 26 years. The building was completed during the French Revolution in 1790, by Soufflot’s associates.
The architecture of the Paris Pantheon also employs elements that resemble the façade of the Pantheon in Rome, which was built in the 1st century B.C. Additionally, through the very diverse designs of its construction, its decoration, inscriptions and symbols found on the structure, they allow us to learn about the French nation’s history.
This monument is intended to honor the great individuals that marked the history of France excluding the military careers normally honored in the Military Pantheon of the Invalides. In 1791, the French National Assembly voted that the building, which had not yet been consecrated as a church, should serve as a temple to house the bodies of the illustrious men of the country.
On its pediment is engraved the inscription “Aux grands hommes la patrie reconnaissante” or “To the great men, the grateful fatherland”, in English. The Paris Pantheon is open to the public and is managed by the Center for National Monuments.