inside the pantheon paris
Culture | France

Paris guides: visiting the Pantheon museum

Paris is a city for lovers of all kinds. If you’re looking for romance, culinary adventures, history, culture, and a shopping spree, the City of Lights has it all.  You could lose or find yourself here, as many others have done before you. You can even visit some of them by visiting the Pantheon museum, the final resting place of France’s cultural heroes.

The Pantheon wasn’t always a museum. It has played many roles over the years and today, it’s one Paris’ top attractions. A combination of neoclassical architecture and stunning Paris views, the Pantheon museum is definitely a place that should be on your to-do list.

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Pantheon Paris architecture

Although inspired by its namesake in Rome, Pantheon Paris deserves its own accolades. Perched on top of the historic hill Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in the Latin Quarter, the Pantheon’s iconic dome stands proudly over the city as it has for centuries.

scaled model of the Pantheon museum in Paris
Pantheon in Paris

In typical neoclassical style, the design is an homage to the simplistic use of the classical elements. The building, 110m long and 85m wide (361 x 279 feet), follows the outline of a massive Greek cross with enormous domes held up by hidden flying buttresses. Corinthian columns line the portico, similarly to the style found in the Rome Pantheon. Aisles of columns divide the central part of the building, holding up a mural inspired by Greek architecture.

The dome of the Pantheon Paris, reminiscent of the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, features three superimposed shells that reach the height of 83m (279 feet). You can climb the 276 steps to the top for spectacular views of the city. The steps include flat and sloping surfaces making it easier to reach the top.

Paris guides: visiting the Pantheon museum | kasiawrites

Pantheon Paris history

The Pantheon stands on land that was once a church dedicated to St. Genevieve. The original church dated back to 507 AD, when newly turned Christian King Clovis built a basilica to Saint Genevieve, the patron said of Paris. She was buried here in 512 AD.

Over the centuries, several churches replaced the Clovis’ basilica. By the mid-18th century, the last of its incarnations was in ruins. In 1744, King Louis XV, brought down by illness, vowed to rebuild the crumbling church of the Abbey of St Genevieve if he recovered. Fortunately, he did, and in 1755, Jacques-Germain Soufflot was commissioned to design the new church.

visiting the Pantheon museum Paris
Outside the Pantheon in Paris

The construction started in 1758, hit several roadblocks, including bad planning, foundation issues and lack of funds. The building, finally completed in 1790, soon met the end of its function as a church with the start of the French Revolution. After the Constituent Assembly declared the building to become a shrine to French heroes, it also became known as the Pantheon, meaning “the place where the gods live.”

Under Napoleon, the building became a church again for a short time. Alternating between being a church and a mausoleum over the years, it is now the final resting place of France’s many cultural heroes and thinkers.

Visiting the Pantheon museum

Visiting the Pantheon is a humbling experience. The simple yet stunning architectural details are awe-inspiring and get you from the moment you step inside the building.  There is an unspoken feeling of being surrounded by greatness while you stand inside it.

The ground floor is rather devoid of clutter, which plays up the magnificence of the columns and incredible ceilings. The sheer space of the place makes you feel very small and insignificant. For me, this was the most stunning part of the place.

The Pantheon museum houses many images of the building during its many incarnations, including a blinding model. You could probably spend hours inside, admiring all the elements that make this such an awe-inspiring piece of architecture.

Pantheon crypts

Underneath the Pantheon are crypts with the remains of France’s intellectual visionaries. Some of the famous names interred here include Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Pierre and Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas, and Soufflot. At first, only famous men were laid to rest here. Today, there are five women among them.

crypts under the pantheon paris
Crypts at the Pantheon

Visiting the Pantheon crypts is a profoundly moving experience. You are in the presence of men and women that changed the world. These great minds of writers, poets, politicians and scientists lie stoically in their resting places surrounded by centuries-old walls.

People pay their respects in hushed voices, further creating a feeling of reverence for the building and the people who made it what it is today.

Foucault pendulum Paris

Inside the Pantheon is a 67-meter (220 feet) tall replica of Foucault’s pendulum. Léon Foucault was a physicist who designed a famous experiment in 1851 to prove that the world spins on an axis instead of staying still. The experiment occurred inside the Pantheon at the request of Napoleon Bonaparte, and it’s hard to imagine it anywhere else.

What you see today is a replica, while the original iron sphere resides at the Musée des Arts et Métiers.

visiting the Pantheon museum
Pantheon in Paris

Hours of operation

Last admission approximately 45 minutes before closing time.  

January 2 – March 3110:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.Open every day
April 1 – September 3010:00 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.Open every day
October 1  – December 3110:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.Open every day

The Pantheon is closed on January 1, May 1,  December 25 and the morning of June 17. 

Address

Address: Place du Pantheon, 5e, 75005 Paris 
Phone: +33 (0) 1-44-32-18-00
Fax: +33 (0) 1 44 07 32 33
Metro Line 10: Cardinal Lemoine
RER B: Luxembourg

Admission

Adults €9, Children free

For up to date information visit Pantheon’s official website

Final thought on Pantheon in Paris

By visiting the Pantheon in Paris, you are looking inside the cultural heart of France. It’s a great way to spend some time discovering the glory of the past. Besides, you’ll love the architecture and history that make this one of the most important monuments in the city.

If you want to read more about Paris, check out Pere Lachaise Cemetery!

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    thewonderer86
    19 Sep 2017
    3:52am

    I thought the crypt was so atmospheric. Great photos.

      kasiawrites
      19 Sep 2017
      7:31am

      Thank you! It was very unique 👍🏼

    amindfultravellerblog
    19 Sep 2017
    4:12am

    This is a definite must for the next trip to Paris. Thanks Kasia. X

      kasiawrites
      19 Sep 2017
      7:31am

      You are welcome!

    Stewie Overseas
    19 Sep 2017
    9:56am

    I have not been here before, but you’re right, it is really cool. I like the silver and greys, and the pillars and domes. Now I would like to go some day.

      kasiawrites
      19 Sep 2017
      10:05am

      It’s quite incredible when you step inside! Totally recommend it 👍🏼

        Stewie Overseas
        19 Sep 2017
        10:09am

        Cool. I’ll try and remember that for my trip to France that I’m not planning 😉

          kasiawrites
          19 Sep 2017
          10:20am

          Gotta have goals! 😊👍🏼

    Dippy-Dotty Girl
    19 Sep 2017
    12:21pm

    I get giddy too thinking about walking around Paris! 😉 Loved the line and the photos.

      kasiawrites
      19 Sep 2017
      12:22pm

      Thank you! I still get giddy thinking about it 🙉

        Dippy-Dotty Girl
        19 Sep 2017
        12:40pm

        Haha 😀

    Elena
    19 Sep 2017
    6:18pm

    Amazing place! 😍

      kasiawrites
      19 Sep 2017
      6:21pm

      It totally is!