I mean the building itself. Le Panthéon. It stands on top of a high point of land called the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. The Sorbonne is nearby. Saint Geneviève is the patron saint of Paris. The Panthéon replaced a half-ruined church on the site when it was built in the 1700s, during the reign of Louis XV.
It was built to be a church, but construction was completed just as the French Revolution began late in the century. In 1791 the revolutionaries, who were anticlericals — anti-church — closed down the new place of worship. The revolutionary Constituent Assembly decided to transform the Panthéon into a national shrine that would "receive the bodies of great men who died in the period of French liberty." (I'm quoting a 1976 English-language copy of the Michelin Green Guide that I happen to have.)
The dome of the Panthéon is a huge iron-framework structure. Where we went when we climbed up to the observation deck was the colonnade you see at the base of the dome. Considering the hill that the Panthéon sits on and the 200+ steps we climbed to get up there, we were pretty high above the surrounding city.
Above is the front porch of the Panthéon in Paris's Latin Quarter.
Last night we enjoyed a funny coincidence. Kind of a series of them, really. Yesterday CHM, Walt, and I were invited to dinner by a man who lives part-time in Paris and part-time down here. His Paris address is fairly close to CHM's apartment. As I've said, I worked in the Latin Quarter, in the neighborhoods around the Panthéon, in the 1970s. Two other dinner guests were people who live on a small street just off the Place du Panthéon. That street is one that I know because it was the setting for a series of dialogues and lessons in a French textbook we used at the University of Illinois when I was a teaching assistant there. I also know it from wandering the neighborhood for several years. The people who live there were surprised to learn than anybody had ever heard of their small street. We had a fun evening and good dinner, by the way, but I'm feeling a little worn out this morning.