Don’t miss the famous pendulum hanging here, with which Jean Bernard Léon Foucault proved in 1851 that the Earth spins on its axis.
In the historic Latin Quarter of Paris stands the enormous Pantheon, a spectacular example of 18th century French architecture and an unmissable feature of the French capital. It was commissioned by Louis XV, who had been suffering from a serious disease in 1744 and feared that he would soon succumb. A religious man, he vowed that if God granted him the strength to recover, he would build a grand church to Sainte-Genevieve. His wish was granted, and he gave the job of organising the construction to the Marquis of Marigny.
It took some 34 years to complete, but the finished Pantheon was universally admired and became a European wonder. The floor plan is 110m long and 85m wide, and is topped by a large dome whose tip towers 83m above the ground. The huge portico at the front is based on the 2nd century Pantheon in Rome, and is supported by an enormous set of Corinthian pillars.
A Hero’s Burial
Beneath the Pantheon is a vast crypt which houses the tombs of some of France’s most famous sons and daughters. Shortly after the building was completed, during the French Revolution, it was decided that it should be converted from a church into a mausoleum, and the inscription above the entrance reads “To great men, the grateful homeland”. Burial here is strictly reserved for national heroes - Voltaire, Emile Zola, Victor Hugo and Marie and Pierre Curie are all interred beneath the Pantheon.
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