As many times as I’ve been to Paris, this was my first visit to the Pantheon. I was in awe at its beauty. Modeled on the Pantheon in Rome, the neo-classical building began its life as a church dedicated to St. Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. The architect Soufflot began the Pantheon in 1755, with the ambition of competing with St. Peter’s in Rome. Construction was completed in 1790.
In 1791, it was became the National Pantheon, a place to honor for those who fought for equality and tolerance. Later, Napoleon I agreed to return the upper structure to a church as long as the lower crypt retained its national function. Its full national civic purpose was restored with Victor Hugo’s funeral in 1885.
The Nave and Transept
The walls of the nave and the transept arms are decorated with monumental painting cyles. The life of St. Genevieve is shown on the nave walls.
The transept paintings depict famous French historical/political figures such as Joan of Arc.
The Transept Dome
At the corners of the dome, frescoes by Baron Gros depict the Apotheosis of St. Geneviere. They are the oldest paintings in the Pantheon.
Burial honors have been granted to soldiers, resistance fighters, liberators, writers, scientists, politicians and others who exemply the republican values of justice and tolerance. Today, those interred in the Pantheon are subject to the whim of the French president.