The Pantheon, 5 th arrondissement, Paris

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The History of the Pantheon

In 1744 Louis XV vowed to dedicate a building to St. Genviève whom he credited with curing him of a recent grave illness. In 1755 the architect Sufflot started the design, and in 1764 the first stone was laid. The building wasn't completed until 1790 though, and as Soufflot had died in 1780, it was completed by Rondelet.

Originally built as a church, it is now the last resting place of the great men of France, e.g. Victor Hugo, Voltaire, Rousseau and Zola.

Foucault and his pendulum

The dome is 83 metres high. In 1851 Foucault set up his pendulum experiment here to prove that the earth rotates around its axis.

There is a full-size working model of Foucault's pendulum here (see the photograph below right) and some audio visual screens explaining it. However the best way to understand it is just to have a look where the pendulum is when you enter, then another look when you leave - you will see that the swing of the pendulum has rotated slightly since you entered - proving that the earth does rotate.

The photograph on the left was taken from rue Sufflot.

Pantheon ceiling detail
Tours inside the Pantheon

Entrance to the Pantheon is not free, but well worth it as you can take advantage of the tours up to the outside of the dome.

The times of these tours are found on the inside to your right. They are fairly strict about numbers, so if the place is crowded it is best to structure your visit around the tour to the dome. You can wander freely around the inside and the crypt, but not on the dome tour.

Pantheon inside
Mairie 5th arr.

Queue up for the dome tour at the red rope. There is no lift, and the climb is up stone steps and the group must keep together. It is well worth it though.

You will get wonderful views of the ongoing restoration to the building as well as some of the best views over the rooftops of the Latin Quarter.

The Eiffel and Montparnasse towers may be much taller, but the view from the outside of the Panthéon dome cannot be beat. The whole of the Lating Quarter is there for you.

On the left, the Mairie (town hall) of the 5th arrondissment with the Eiffel tower in the background.

Pantheon floor
St. Etienne du Mont

On the left St. Etienne du Montt, and Notre Dame with the Pompidou Centre just peeping out behind on the right.

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Notre Dame & Pompidou Centre
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