Mapping Paris

Representations vs. Realities: The Real View of Paris

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The Real Paris... how accurately do the representations from the 19th century portray Paris as we know it today?


It is difficult to say whether or not representations from the 19th century accurately depict the city. In order to find that out we would need to go back in time to see for ourselves. However, we would be viewing Paris from our own individual viewpoints and ideals, just as the artists and writers from the 19th century looked at the city from their specific points of view. Therefore the idea of this page is to not judge whether or not the artists were correct in their visions, but to look at representations from today and see what kinds of connections can be made.

Perhaps the most lasting impression of the city that is seen in both modern and 19th century images is the idea that Paris is a city of grandeur. Its monuments and customs combine to create a city of light.

Below is an image of the Pantheon as it can be seen today.

The Pantheon (Ste. Genevieve), Jacques-Germain Soufflot (architect) 1757-1792

This is a contemporary image of the Pantheon. The structure of the dome itself is represented in the same way in this image as in images from the 19th century. Therefore it is safe to say that architecturally, the artists from the 19th century represented the building accurately. Also the fact that this image was depicted many times both in the 19th century and today.

Panoramic View of Paris, September 1997

This photograph is a view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower. The Paris landscape has changed since the 19th century, however the idea of portraying the city as expanding to the horizon line has not. The views of Paris that we have seen from the 19th century also show the city from a similar point of view. This perspective of the city leaves the impression of grandeur and prominence. These ideals are as strong today as they were in the 19th century.


For more contemporary images of Paris go to




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