Sites and Sounds of Revolutionary Paris

From Church to Mausoleum
Revolutionary Tradition and Les Mis
Revolution 1789
--The Monarchy
--Tennis Court Oath
--Fall of the Bastille
--October Days
--Declaration of War
--Palace Invaded
--Louis XVI
--Reign of Terror
-- Fall of Robespierre
--At war
1789 in Les Miserables
--The Terror
--The People
--The Students
--The Monarchy
--Place de Concord
--Notre Dame
Daily Sites
--Street Names
--Children's Names and Games
Works Consulted
The pantheon started out as a church and then became the final resting place for many of 
France's national heroes.  The Pantheon, like the rest of Paris, was also subject to the changing 
whims of the prevailing political powers of the time.  When Victor Hugo was giving a brilliant 
description of Paris in Les Miserable, he reffered to the it as "The Pantheon":
"Paris has a capital, the Hotel de Ville; a Partheon, Notre Dame; a Mount Aventine, the Farbourg St. Antoine: an Asinarium, the Sorbonne; a pantheon, the Pantheon." (Victor Hugo Les Miserable, Marius, IIII).




 Soufflot's original plan for the Pantheon, engraving acquired in Paris by Thomas Jefferson (Rice 9).


  • The Pantheon was formerly known as the church of St, Genevieve, named after the St. Genevieve, who was buried underneath the building in 512. Later she became the patron saint of Paris.
  • Under Louis the XV the church fell into ruins. Louis XV had been ill and promised, Mme. Pompadour, if he recovered to build her a new church and when he recovered he kept his promise. The new building was designed by Souflot, and the first stone was laid in 1764.



The basic design of the Pantheon is that of a Greek cross with a massive portico of Corinthian columns. The outside of the Pantheon in 1851 included six 60 foot high Corinthian styled columns, each about 6 inches in diameter. In addition to these columns there were 16 internal ones, that supported the beautiful 129 fT. triangular pediment. When one ventured inside the pantheon there were various inscriptions, paintings and tombs. Among the many beautiful inscriptions found on the inside of the building was one by David, displaying France paying tribute to the heroes who created her. Included in the description was Mirabeau, Voltaire, Rousseau, Lafayette and standing in front of them all is Napoleon. The large dome in the middle, jetted up about 268 ft in the air and was supported by 258 columns throughout the edifice. A magnificent painting displaying four monarchs who formed an epoch in France, Louis XVIII, ST. Louis, Charlemagne, and Clovis, was done by Gros and was so beautiful that when Charles X visited the church he made Gros a baron. The entire building is paved with stone and marble.


Underneath the Pantheon many French heroes were put to rest in a massive vault, that somewhat resembled the Roman tombs at Pompeii. In the vault there were Doric columns that stretched 50ft high in the air and were made of stone. Under the nave there were monuments and several funeral urns decorating the mausoleum. The people who were interned in the Pantheon were put in wooden sarcophagi before they were buried.

Revolutionary Ties

The decor of the Pantheon, like the streets of Paris, often changed to reflect the ruling powers of Paris. The revolutionary government first changed it from a church to a mausoleum in 1791, and since then it has been a church twice and at present day a vast crypt. During the 1789 revolution, the walls were decorated with passages relating to philosophical subjects. And in 1826 they were replaced with attributes of Catholic worship. During the revolution of 1830 and again in 1848 the Pantheon was filled with insurgents, who made the building their headquarters on the left side of the river Seine.