Panthéon, Paris © French Moments

Last Updated: 29 February 2020


The neo-classical Panthéon stands at the top of the Sainte-Geneviève hill in the 5th arrondissement. With its remarkable colonnaded dome, it shares some similitudes with St. Paul’s cathedral in London.

Its construction dates back to 1773 at a time when France was fascinated with all things Greek and Roman: column, geometry and engineering. It originated in 1744 when Louis XV was unexpectedly healed from a desperate illness. To thank God, the king commissioned the construction of a magnificent church dedicated to Sainte-Geneviève. Renowned French architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot designed the church in neo-classical style. Construction work started in 1764 and were completed in 1790, 10 years after the death of the architect. At the Revolution, the church was desecrated and affected to the tombs of the great men of the young French Republic. In 1806, Napoleon turned it back into a church before Louis-Philippe had it used as a necropolis. In the reign of Napoleon III, it became  a church again and in 1885, the sanctuary was finally secularised to become a civic building. From then, it has becomes a necropolis of France’s greatest citizens and a popular national monument.

Panthéon © French Moments
Panthéon © French Moments

With its 22 Corinthian columns, the façade of the Panthéon was inspired by that of Rome. The bas-relief on the pediment by David d’Angers represents the mother country of France granting laurels to her great men.

The majestic dome is surmounted by a lantern tower reaching 83 metres that filters a little light into the centre of the sanctuary.

The crypt contains the tombs of many great French notables: Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Jaurès, Pierre and Marie Curie, Jean Moulin.


Check out our curated magazine on Flipboard for exclusive stories & insights on France!

Gems of Paris by French Moments
About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

Like it? Leave a comment!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Transparency: Some blog posts and pages may contain affiliate or sponsored links. If you are planning a trip, the use of these links helps us to run the site. There is no additional cost to you. All you have to do is click on the link and any booking you make is automatically tracked. Thank you for your support!

Escape to France with every email! Get insider insights, travel guides, cultural gems delivered and exclusive offers to your inbox twice a week. Your journey to Paris and France begins when you sign up!



24 Places to See in France in 2024