Saturday, 6 October 2007

The Pantheon

Last weekend I had a bit of a wander around the Latin Quater, it's where the Sorbonne is, still haven't visited that though. Apparently it is called the Latin Quater because all communications between lecturers and students used to be in Latin, at least until the Revolution, those poor students! The Pantheon is alright, it's got a pretty cool crypt underneath with all these famous people in tombs there, my pick was Marie Curie, I think she was one of the only women in there. It's pretty funny that some people have been removed from the crypt as they were deemed not famous enough. I wonder where their bodies go, do they keep them in storage in case their fortunes change?

It's pretty expensive though and you can only go up to the top of the dome with a guide, which is only once an hour. Unfortunately I missed the tour so couldn't get to the top, I think the entry price is worth it if you do get to go upstairs. It's free if you are under 18, but you have to enter with an adult. This poor girl in front of me nearly got caught out with that. She had obviously gone for the free option, but then they wouldn't let her in because she was by herself. Don't worry I let her go in with me, should have made her pay for half my ticket though :).

For all the nerds out there this is where Foucault built his pendulum to demonstrate the motion of the Earth, they have set up a replica there which is kind of cool. Foucault built it in 1851 for the Paris Exhibition, and it was the first proof of the rotation of the earth.

While searching for Foucault's pendulum on the internet, to make sure I wrote the right stuff, I found this website:
http://www.reformation.org/stationary-earth.html which is good for a laugh. It is some crazy Christian fundamentalist explaining how the "science" community (their quotation marks) is wrong in their thinking about the Earth's tilt and various other astronomical facts. This person really believes that it is the sun which rotates around the earth and they base their evidence on the bible (of course) and the science of the ancient Egyptians. Crazy christians need to learn that scientists don't wake up each morning going "Now which part of the bible shall I disprove today". We don't really care about them we just report what we see, except maybe the evolutionary biologists, but I think they get it a bit tougher from the fundamentalists than us physicists do.

According to this website the pendulum Foucault built actually has a rigged top which is what causes it to rotate, too bad we had a Foucault's pendulum in my old physics department which also rotated, I guess that was rigged too, you can't trust those scientists, just ask Joe Hockey. They never gave any explanations which fit observations as to how they are correct in their thinking, just a few quotes from the bible, that's evidence enough for crazy christians. Really it is quite scary that we have to live in the same world with these people who have such a screwed up view of reality.

The inside of the Pantheon is a bit sterile, they went for a very neoclassicism feel, but quite pretty, if a little cold, it is kind of peaceful though. It has a pretty long history, having started out as a church, but changing to secular and back to a church a few times before now, where it is a secular tomb for famous French people. Louis 15th commissioned it around 1750 to Saint Genevieve in thanks for his recovery from an illness. It wasn't finished until 1789, but that was around the time of the revolution when religion had fallen a little out of favour. Two years later it had been converted into a secular mausoleum for the great men of France of that time. It reverted to its religous duties twice more after the revolutions, but was finally converted into a secular tomb again after the death of Victor Hugo, and now the famous people of France are buried here in the crypt. Victor Hugo really was a national hero, 2 million people attended his funeral, that's a lot of people!

This is the a shot of the interior of the church as well as a shot of the dome from behind, it really is huge
























It is so big I had trouble getting everything in the shot, finally there is a shot of some random church next door, Eglise St Etienne du Mont (I think). A bit of an excess of churches in this area if you ask me.

2 comments:

Mana said...

How much was entry? I'm interested since you said it was quite expensive. Is that in comparison to the other major tourist sites?

Annabel said...

The entry was 7.50 euro, which is the same price as the musee d'orsay, where you have hundreds of paintings. The panthenon is basically a big church and these are normally free. So for what you get, a big empty room that looks pretty cool, I thought it was a bit expensive.