Liberty in France: A Visit to the Pantheon

France’s monuments are open to young Europeans free of charge. This is a fantastic, privilege offered. Today, I visited the Pantheon, it is a wonder. It is funny, because, the music in the back ground is heroic and romantic, so true to the monument that is seems as though it is in you head, because it is the most perfect music to hear, as you stare up into the heights of the dome. The Pantheon is a wonder, dedicated to: justice, death, patriots, and liberty.

Each statue, is done in the classical style with strong emphasis on form and posture. The statues around the Famous Foucault Pendulum are dedicated to the hero of the French Revolution, brave men who fought tyranny and sought to depose it with equality. Men in groups together are a strong show of solidarity, those, dead are a reminder of the price we pay for liberty.

Jean d’Arc’s story is told in the ceiling under the dome. She is presented in pure light and at all moments true to her faith and church, even when she is burned as a heretic.

One thing which I must point out is the size of the paintings, both at the Pantheon and Versaille. Imagine, 60 feet by 50 feet, this visualization should give you a general idea about the scale which these paintings are done. Each done by hand, and each done over time. Things is Paris happen over time. There is time for things of importance to happen. Lets imagine something as simple as a lunch at the student dining hall.

Lines move slow and are filled with conversation, mostly in French. Students, make time to eat food. The pace of the dining hall is slow, meals are chewed, enjoyed, for their warmth, and the dryness warm room, filled with bodies resting in conversation. The food itself is warm and hot and on a cold day in Paris, a hot meal a good way to assure yourself that you still carry the sun on the inside.

The showcase of the Pantheon is the crypt, where the heroes of French, literature, military, science and society are buried. I know no comparison to this place. The architectures is a phenomenal display of neoclassical work. So what is it like to go to a dark place surrounded by dead people who have changed the world. Quiet, and reflective of course.

The Pantheon like any other tomb is not a place of loud noises or boisterous guests, one makes time go slowly, reflecting upon what each of these men and women have done for French Society. One thing that stands out in my mind is there are open spaces in the crypt. So, if one contributes to French Socety, then they could to be buried in the Pantheon. If they live their life accordingly.

Though it is a crypt it is not a dark place to ponder death, but to appreciate life, its gifts and the gifts left by those that have come before us. One is easily reminded that thoughts are just thoughts and none are more important than the next one.

One thought

  1. I can’t wait till I am able to Study abroad in France. That is where i would study for reasons you mention in your blog realizing it or not and im sure you do. There is history everywhere and an appreciation for everything that surrounds you more so there then here in Phoenix.

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