Text: Claire Lessiau
Photographs: Marcella van Alphen
Strolling through the Latin quarter on the left bank of Paris, and coming out of the Luxembourg Gardens, the unexpected neoclassical architecture of the Panthéon attracts the attention.
The French king Louis XV recovered from an illness and to thank the Lord he decided to have a church to honor Sainte Geneviève, the protector of Paris, built on top of the hill bearing her name. However, the construction (1758, 1790) was not completed before the start of the French Revolution (1789). The imposing structure was turned into a mausoleum: a burial place for Frenchmen or women who did something extraordinary for France. It has served multiple purposes over the years, but now it remains a burial site for France’s most outstanding poets, scientists and writers.
Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Louis Antoine de Bougainville, Emile Zola, Louis Braille, Jean Moulin, Antoine de Saint Exupéry, Pierre & Marie Curie, Alexandre Dumas Sr., Simone Veil are some of the eminent figures buried in Le Panthéon.
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