The Panthéon (French: [pɑ̃.te.ɔ̃]; Latin: pantheon, from Greek πάνθειον (ἱερόν) '(temple) to all the gods') is a building in the Latin Quarter in Paris, France. It was built as a church dedicated to the patron saint of Paris, Saint Genevieve, to house the reliquary châsse containing her relics, but was secularized during the French Revolution and converted into a mausoleum for the remains of distinguished French citizens. It is an early example of neo-classicism, with a façade modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, surmounted by a dome that owes some of its character to Bramante's Tempietto. Located in the 5th arrondissement on the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the Panthéon looks out over all of Paris. Its designer Jacques-Germain Soufflot had the intention of combining the lightness and brightness of the Gothic cathedral with classical principles, but its role as a mausoleum required the great Gothic windows to be blocked.
A view of the Panthéon from Tour Montparnasse
|Construction started||1758 AD|
|Design and construction|
Site and earlier buildings
The site of the Panthéon had great significance in Paris history, and was occupied by a series of monuments. It was on Mount Lucotitius, a height on the Left Bank where the forum of the Roman town of Lutetia was located. It was also the original burial site of Saint Genevieve, who had led the resistance to the Huns when they threatened Paris in 451. In 508, Clovis, King of the Franks, constructed a church there, where he and his wife were later buried in 511 and 545. The church, originally dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul, was rededicated to Saint Genevieve, who became the patron saint of Paris. It was at the centre of the Abbey of Saint Genevieve, a centre of religious scholarship in the Middle Ages. Her relics were kept in the church, and were brought out for solemn processions when dangers threatened the city.
King Louis XV vowed in 1744 that if he recovered from his illness he would replace the dilapidated church of the Abbey of St Genevieve with a grander building worthy of the patron saint of Paris. He did recover, but ten years passed before the reconstruction and enlargement of the church was begun. In 1755 The Director of the King's public works, Abel-François Poisson, marquis de Marigny, chose Jacques-Germain Soufflot to design the church. Soufflot (1713–1780) had studied classical architecture in Rome over 1731–38. Most of his early work was done in Lyon. Saint Genevieve became his life's work; it was not finished until after his death.
His first design was completed in 1755, and was clearly influenced by the work of Bramante he had studied in Italy. It took form of a Greek cross, with four naves of equal length, and monumental dome over the crossing in the centre, and a classical portico with Corinthian columns and a peristyle with a triangular pediment on the main façade. The design was modified five times over the following years, with the addition of a narthex, a choir, and two towers. The design was not finalised until 1777.
The foundations were laid in 1758, but due to economic problems work proceeded slowly. In 1780, Soufflot died and was replaced by his student Jean-Baptiste Rondelet. The re-modelled Abbey of St. Genevieve was finally completed in 1790, shortly after the beginning of the French Revolution.
The building is 110 metres long by 84 metres wide, and 83 metres high, with the crypt beneath of the same size. The ceiling was supported by isolated columns, which supported an array of barrel vaults and transverse arches. The massive dome was supported by pendentives rested upon four massive pillars. Critics of the plan contended that the pillars could not support such a large dome. Soufflot strengthened the stone structure with a system of iron rods, a predecessor of modern reinforced buildings. The bars had deteriorated by the 21st century, and a major restoration project to replace them is being carried out between 2010 and 2020.
The dome is actually three domes, fitting within each other. The first, lowest dome, has a coffered ceiling with rosettes, and is open in the centre. Looking through this dome, the second dome is visible, decorated with the fresco The Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve by Antoine Gros. The outermost dome, visible from the outside, is built of stone bound together with iron cramps and covered with lead sheathing, rather than of carpentry construction, as was the common French practice of the period. Concealed buttresses inside the walls give additional support to the dome.
The Revolution – The "Temple of the Nation"
The Church of Saint-Genevieve was nearly complete, with only the interior decoration unfinished, when the French Revolution began in 1789. In 1790, the Marquis de Vilette proposed that it be made a temple devoted to liberty, on the model of the Pantheon in Rome. "Let us install statues of our great men and lay their ashes to rest in its underground recesses." The idea was formally adopted in April, 1791, after the death of the prominent revolutionary figure, The Comte de Mirabeau, the President of the National Constituent Assembly on April 2, 1791. On April 4, 1791, the Assembly decreed "that this religious church become a temple of the nation, that the tomb of a great man become the altar of liberty." The also approved a new text over the entrance: "A grateful nation honors its great men." On the same day the declaration was approved, the funeral of Mirabeau was held in the church.
The ashes of Voltaire were placed in the Panthéon in a lavish ceremony on 21 July 1791, followed by the remains of several martyred revolutionaries, including Jean-Paul Marat, and of the philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the rapid shifts of power of the Revolutionary period, two of the first men honored in Pantheon, Mirabeau and Marat, were declared enemies of the Revolution, and their remains were removed. Finally, the new government of the French Convention decreed in February, 1795 that no one should be placed in the Pantheon who had not been dead at least ten years.
Soon after the church was transformed into a mausoleum, the Assembly approved architectural changes to make the interior darker and more solemn. The architect Quatremère de Quincy bricked up the lower windows and frosted the glass of the upper windows to reduce the light, and removed most of the ornament from the exterior. The architectural lanterns and bells were removed the facade. All of the religious friezes and statues were destroyed in 1791; it was replaced by statuary and murals on patriotic themes.
Temple to church and back to temple (1806–1830)
Napoleon Bonaparte, when he became First Consul in 1801, signed a Concordat with the Pope, agreeing to restore former church properties, including the Panthéon. The Pantheé was under the jurisdiction of the canons of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Celebrations of important events, such as the victory of Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz, were held there. However, the crypt of the church kept its official function as the resting place for illustrious Frenchmen. A new entrance directly to the crypt was created via the eastern porch (1809–11). The artist Antoine-Jean Gros was commissioned to decorate the interior of the cupola. It combined the secular and religious aspects of the church; it showed the Genevieve being conducted to heaven by angels, in the presence of great leaders of France, from Clovis I and Charlemagne to Napoleon and the Empress Josephine.
During the reign of Napoleon, the remains of forty-one illustrious Frenchmen were placed in the crypt. They were mostly military officers, senators and other high officials of the Empire, but also included the explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville and the painter Joseph-Marie Vien, the teacher of Napoleon's official painter, Jacques-Louis David.
During the Bourbon Restoration which followed the fall of Napoleon, in 1816 Louis XVIII of France restored the entire Parthénon, including the crypt, to the Catholic Church. The church was also at last officially consecrated in the presence of the King, a ceremony which had been omitted during the Revolution. The sculpture on the pediment by Jean Guillaume Moitte, called The Fatherland crowning the heroic and civic virtues was replaced by a religious-themed work by David d'Angers. The reliquary of Saint Genevieve had been destroyed during the Revolution, but a few relics were found and restored to the church (They are now in the neighboring Church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont). IN 1822 François Gerard was commissioned to decorate the pen datives of the dome with new works representing Justice, Death, the Nation, and Fame. Jean-Antoine Gros was commissioned to redo his fresco on the inner dome, replacing Napoleon with Louis XVIII, as well as figures of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The new version of the cupola was inaugurated in 1824 by Charles X. As to the crypt where the tombs were located, it was locked and closed to visitors.
Under Louis Philippe, the Second Republic and Napoleon III (1830–1871)
The 1830 Revolution placed Louis Philippe on the throne. He expressed sympathy for Revolutionary values, and on 26 August 1830, the church once again became the Pantheon. However, the crypt remained closed to the public, and no new remains were added. The only change made was to the main pediment, which had been remade with a radiant cross; it was remade again by David D'Angers with a patriotic work called The Nation Distributing Crowns Handed to Her by Liberty, to Great Men, Civil and Military, While History Inscribes Their Names.
Louis Philippe was overthrown in 1848 and replaced by the elected government of the Second French Republic, which valued revolutionary themes. The new government designated the Pantheon "The Temple of Humanity", and proposed to decorate it with sixty new murals honouring human progress in all fields. In 1851 The Foucault Pendulum of astronomer Leon Foucault was hung beneath the dome to illustrate the rotation of the earth. However, on complaints from the Church, it was removed in December of the same year.
Louis Napoleon, nephew of the Emperor, was elected President of France in December 1848, and in 1852 staged a coup-d'état and made himself Emperor. Once again the Pantheon was returned the church, with the title of "National Basilica". The remaining relics of Saint Genevieve were restored to the church, and two groups of sculpture commemorating events in the life of the Saint were added. The crypt remained closed.
The Third Republic (1871–1939)
The Basilica suffered damage from German shelling during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. During the brief reign of the Paris Commune in May 1871, it suffered more damage during fighting between the Commune soldiers and the French Army. During the early years of the Third Republic, under conservative governments, it functioned as a church, but the interior walls were largely bare. Beginning in 1874, The interior was redecorated with new murals and sculptural groups linking French history and the history of the church, by notable artists including Puvis de Chavannes and Alexandre Cabanel, and the artist Antoine-Auguste-Ernest Hébert, who made a mosaic under the vault of the apsidal chapel called Christ Showing the Angel of France the Destiny of Her People.
The death of Victor Hugo in 1885 determined the future of the Panthéon. The day after his death, the left-leaning French government decreed a day of national mourning, and officially returned the Panthéon to its former status as "The Temple of Great Men". On June 1, 1885, after a procession through the Paris witnessed by huge crowds, Hugo's remains were placed in the crypt. The subsequent governments approved the entry of literary figures, including the writer Emile Zola (1908), and, after the first World War, leaders of the French socialist movement, including Leon Gambetta (1920) and Jean Jaurès (1924). The Third Republic governments also decreed that the building should be decorated with sculpture representing "the golden ages and great men of France." The principal works remaining from this period include the sculptural group called The National Assembly, commemorating the French Revolution; a statue of Mirabeau, the first man interred in the Pantheon, by Jean-Antoine Ingabert; (1889–1920); and two patriotic murals in the apse Victory Leading the Armies of the Republic to Towards Glory by Édouard Detaille, and Glory Entering the Temple, Followed by Poets, Philosophers, Scientists and Warriors , by Marie-Désiré-Hector d'Espouy (1906).
The brief Fourth Republic (1948–1958) after World War Two pantheonized two physicists, Paul Langevin, and Jean Perrin, a leader of the movement to abolish slavery in France, Victor Schoelcher, an early leader of Free France, a colonial administrator who descended from slaves, Félix Éboué, and, in 1952, Louis Braille, inventor of the Braille system allowing the blind to read.
Under the Fifth Republic of President Charles de Gaulle, the first person to be Pantheonized was the resistance leader Jean Moulin. Modern Figures brought into the Panthéeon in recent years include Nobel Peace Prize winner René Cassin (1987) known for drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; Nobel laureates physicists and chemists Marie Curie and Pierre Curie (1995); the writer and culture minister André Malraux (1996); and the lawyer, politician Simone Veil (2018).
Architecture and art
The final plan of the dome was accepted in 1777, and it was completed in 1790. It was designed to rival those of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome and St Paul's Cathedral in London. Unlike the dome of Les Invalides in Paris, which has a wooden framework, the dome is constructed entirely of stone. It is actually three domes, one within the other, with the painted ceiling, visible from below, on the second dome. The dome is 83.0 metres (272 ft) high, compared with the tallest dome in the world, St. Peters Basilica at 136.57 metres (448.1 ft).
Looking up from the crossing of the transept beneath the dome the beneath the dome, the painting by Jean-Antoine Gros, the Apotheosis of Saint Genevieve (1811–1834), is visible through the opening in the lowest cupola. The triangle in the center symbolizes the Trinity, surrounded by a halo of light. The Hebrew characters spell the name of God. The only character seen in full is Saint Genevieve herself, seated on a rocky promontory. The groups around the painting, made during the Restoration of the Monarchy, represent Kings of France who played an important role in protecting the church. To the left of Saint Genevieve is a group including Clovis, the first King to convert to Christianity. The second group is centred around Charlemagne, who created the first universities. The third group is centred around Louis IX of France, or Saint Louis, with the Crown of Thorns which he brought back from the Holy Land to place in the church of Sainte-Chapelle. The last group is centred around Louis XVIII, the last King of the Restoration, and his niece, looking up into the clouds at the martyred Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette. The angels in the scene are carrying the Chartre, the document by which Louis XVIII re-established the church after the French Revolution.
The four pen datives, or arches, which support the dome are decorated with paintings from the same period by François Gérard depicting Glory, Death, The Nation and Justice(1821–37),
The facade, peristyle and entrance
The facade and peristyle on the east side, modeled after a Greek temple, features Corinthian columns and sculpture by David d'Angers, completed in 1837. The sculpture on this pediment, replacing an early pediment with religious themes, represents "The Nation distributing crowns handed to her by Liberty to great men, civil and military, while history inscribes their names". To the left are figures of distinguished scientists, philosophers, and statesmen, including Rousseau, Voltaire, Lafayette, and others. To the right is Napoleon Bonaparte, along with soldiers from each military service and students in uniform from the École Polytechnique.
Below is the motto: "To the great men, from a grateful nation". This was added in 1791, when the Panthéon was created. It was removed during the Restoration of the monarchy, then put back in 1830.
Below the peristyle are five sculpted bas-reliefs; the two reliefs over the main doors, commissioned during the Revolution, represent the two main purposes of the building: "Public Education" (left) and "Patriotic Devotion" (right).
The facade originally had large windows, but they were replaced when the church became a mausoleum, to make the interior darker and more somber.
The Narthex and Naves – The Foucault pendulum
The primary decoration of the Western Nave is a series of paintings, beginning in the Narthex, depicting the lives of Saint Denis, the patron saint of Paris, and longer series on the life of Saint Genevieve, by Puvis de Chavannes, Alexandre Cabanel, Jules Eugène Lenepveu and other notable history painters of the 19th century. The paintings of the Southern nave and Northern Nave continue this series on the Christian heroes of France, including scenes from the lives of Charlemagne, Clovis, Louis IX of France and Joan of Arc. From 1906 to 1922 the Panthéon was the site of Auguste Rodin's famous sculpture The Thinker. File:Puvis de Chavannes, Sainte Geneviève as a child in prayer 1876 a.jpg
In 1851, physicist Léon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of the Earth by constructing a 67-metre (220 ft) Foucault pendulum beneath the central dome. The original sphere from the pendulum was temporarily displayed at the Panthéon in the 1990s (starting in 1995) during renovations at the Musée des Arts et Métiers. The original pendulum was later returned to the Musée des Arts et Métiers, and a copy is now displayed at the Panthéon. It has been listed since 1920 as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Interment in the crypt is severely restricted and is allowed only by a parliamentary act for "National Heroes". Similar high honours exist in Les Invalides for historical military leaders such as Napoléon, Turenne and Vauban.
Among those buried in its necropolis are Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Émile Zola, Jean Moulin, Louis Braille, Jean Jaurès and Soufflot, its architect. In 1907 Marcellin Berthelot was buried with his wife Mme Sophie Berthelot. Marie Curie was interred in 1995, the first woman interred on merit. Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz and Germaine Tillion, heroines of the French resistance, were interred in 2015. Simone Veil was interred in 2018, and her husband Antoine Veil was interred alongside her so not to be separated.
The widely repeated story that the remains of Voltaire were stolen by religious fanatics in 1814 and thrown into a garbage heap is false. Such rumours resulted in the coffin being opened in 1897, which confirmed that his remains were still present.
On 30 November 2002, in an elaborate but solemn procession, six Republican Guards carried the coffin of Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870), the author of The Three Musketeers and other famous novels, to the Panthéon. Draped in a blue-velvet cloth inscribed with the Musketeers' motto: "Un pour tous, tous pour un" ("One for all, all for one,") the remains had been transported from their original interment site in the Cimetière de Villers-Cotterêts in Aisne, France. In his speech, President Jacques Chirac stated that an injustice was being corrected with the proper honouring of one of France's greatest authors.
In January 2007, President Jacques Chirac unveiled a plaque in the Panthéon to more than 2,600 people recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by the Yad Vashem memorial in Israel for saving the lives of Jews who would otherwise have been deported to concentration camps. The tribute in the Panthéon underlines the fact that around three-quarters of the country's Jewish population survived the war, often thanks to ordinary people who provided help at the risk of their own life. This plaque says :
Sous la chape de haine et de nuit tombée sur la France dans les années d'occupation, des lumières, par milliers, refusèrent de s'éteindre. Nommés "Juste parmi les Nations" ou restés anonymes, des femmes et des hommes, de toutes origines et de toutes conditions, ont sauvé des juifs des persécutions antisémites et des camps d'extermination. Bravant les risques encourus, ils ont incarné l'honneur de la France, ses valeurs de justice, de tolérance et d'humanité.
Which can be translated as follows :
Under the cloak of hatred and darkness that spread over France during the years of [Nazi] occupation, thousands of lights refused to be extinguished. Named as "Righteous among the Nations" or remaining anonymous, women and men, of all backgrounds and social classes, saved Jews from anti-Semitic persecution and the extermination camps. Braving the risks involved, they embodied the honour of France, and its values of justice, tolerance and humanity.
List of people interred or commemorated
|1791||Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau||First person honoured with burial in the Panthéon, 4 April 1791. Disinterred on 25 November 1794 and buried in an anonymous grave. His remains are yet to be recovered.|
|1793||Louis Michel le Peletier de Saint-Fargeau||Assassinated deputy; disinterred from the Panthéon by his family on 14 February 1795.|
|1794||Jean-Paul Marat||Disinterred from the Panthéon.|
|1806||François Denis Tronchet|
|1806||Claude Louis Petiet|
|1807||Louis-Joseph-Charles-Amable d'Albert, duc de Luynes||Disinterred from the Panthéon and returned to his family in 1862 at their request.|
|1808||Francois Barthélemy, comte Béguinot|
|1808||Pierre Jean George Cabanis|
|1808||Gabriel-Louis, marquis de Caulaincourt|
|1808||Antoine-César de Choiseul, duc de Praslin|
|1808||Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher||Urn with his heart.|
|1809||Jean Baptiste Papin, comte de Saint-Christau|
|1809||Pierre Garnier de Laboissière|
|1809||Jean Pierre, comte Sers||Urn with his heart.|
|1809||Jérôme-Louis-François-Joseph, comte de Durazzo||Urn with his heart.|
|1809||Justin Bonaventure Morard de Galles||Urn with his heart.|
|1809||Emmanuel Crétet, comte de Champnol|
|1810||Giovanni Battista Caprara|
|1810||Louis-Vincent-Joseph Le Blond de Saint-Hilaire|
|1810||Jean Baptiste Treilhard|
|1810||Jean Lannes, duc de Montebello|
|1810||Charles Pierre Claret de Fleurieu|
|1811||Louis Antoine de Bougainville|
|1811||Charles, cardinal Erskine of Kellie|
|1811||Alexandre-Antoine Hureau, baron de Sénarmont||Urn with his heart|
|1811||Ippolito Antonio, cardinal Vicenti Mareri|
|1811||Nicolas-Marie Songis des Courbons|
|1811||Michel Ordener, First Count Ordener|
|1812||Jan Willem de Winter or in French Jean Guillaume De Winter, comte de Huessen||Body only; his heart is sepulchred in his birthplace Kampen, Overijssel, Netherlands.|
|1813||Hyacinthe-Hugues-Timoléon de Cossé, Comte de Brissac|
|1813||Jean-Ignace Jacqueminot, Comte de Ham|
|1813||Joseph Louis Lagrange|
|1813||Jean, Comte Rousseau|
|1813||François-Marie-Joseph-Justin, Comte de Viry|
|1814||Claude-Ambroise Régnier, duc de Massa di Carrara|
|1815||Claude Juste Alexandre Legrand|
|1889||Lazare Carnot||Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.|
|1889||Théophile-Malo Corret de la Tour d'Auvergne||Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.|
|1889||François Séverin Marceau-Desgraviers||Buried at the time of the centennial celebration of the French Revolution (only ashes)|
|1894||Marie François Sadi Carnot||Buried immediately after his assassination.|
|1907||Marcellin Berthelot||Buried with his wife Sophie Berthelot (refused to be buried apart from her).|
|1907||Sophie Berthelot||Buried with her husband Marcellin Berthelot. The first woman to be interred in the Panthéon.|
|1920||Léon Gambetta||Urn with his heart|
|1924||Jean Jaurès||Interred ten years after his assassination.|
|1948||Jean Perrin Nobel Prize Winner||Buried the same day as Paul Langevin.|
|1949||Victor Schœlcher||Buried the same day as Félix Éboué. Victor wanted to be buried with his father Marc Schœlcher who therefore is also interred in the Panthéon.|
|1949||Félix Éboué||Buried the same day as Victor Schoelcher.|
|1952||Louis Braille||Body moved to the Panthéon on the centenary of his death.|
|1964||Jean Moulin||Ashes transferred from Père Lachaise Cemetery on 19 December 1964.|
|1967||Antoine de Saint-Exupéry||Commemorated with an inscription in November 1967, as his body was never found.|
|1987||René Cassin Nobel Prize Winner||Entered the Panthéon on the centenary of his birth.|
|1988||Jean Monnet||Entered the Panthéon on the centenary of his birth.|
|1989||Abbé Baptiste-Henri Grégoire||Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution.|
|1989||Gaspard Monge||Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution.|
|1989||Marquis de Condorcet||Buried at the time of the bicentennial celebration of the French Revolution. The coffin is in fact empty, his remains having been lost.|
|1995||Pierre Curie Nobel Prize Winner||Enshrined in the crypt in April with his wife and fellow physicist Marie Curie.|
|1995||Marie Curie Nobel Prize Winner||Second woman to be buried in the Panthéon, but the first to be honoured on her own merit.|
|1996||André Malraux||Ashes transferred from Verrières-le-Buisson (Essonne) Cemetery on 23 November 1996 on the 20th anniversary of his death.|
|1998||Toussaint Louverture||Commemorative plaque installed on same day as Louis Delgrès|
|1998||Louis Delgrès||Commemorative plaque installed on same day as Toussaint Louverture|
|2002||Alexandre Dumas, père||Reburied here 132 years after his death.|
|2011||Aimé Césaire||Commemorative plaque installed 6 April 2011; Césaire is buried in Martinique.|
|2015||Germaine Tillion||Symbolic interment. The coffin of Germaine Tillion at the Panthéon does not contain her remains but soil from her gravesite, because her family did not want the body itself moved.|
|2015||Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz||Symbolic interment. The coffin of Geneviève de Gaulle-Anthonioz at the Panthéon does not contain her remains but soil from her gravesite, because her family did not want the body itself moved.|
|2018||Simone Veil||Originally buried at Montparnasse Cemetery following her death in 2017.|
|2018||Antoine Veil||Husband of Simone Veil, originally buried at Montparnasse Cemetery following his death in 2013.|
- Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2005, s.v.
- LeBeurre, Alexia, The Patheon- Temple of the Nation (2000), p. 3
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- Lebeurre (2000), pp. 12-13.
- Lebeurre (2000) pg. 16
- Lebeurre (2000) pg. 16
- Lebeurre (2000) pg. 17
- Lebeurre (2000) pg. 17
- Lebeurre (2000) pg. 26-27
- Lebeurre (2000) pp. 26-29
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- Katz, Brigit. "France's Simone Veil Will Become the Fifth Woman Buried in the Panthéon". Retrieved 7 July 2017.
- Panthéon at Centre des Monuments Nationaux
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- * Panthéon ou église Sainte-Geneviève? Les ambiguïtés d'un monument, Denis Bocquet, MA Thesis, Sorbonne University 1992 http://hal-enpc.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/81/72/87/PDF/BocquetPantheon1992.pdf
- Panthéon at Structurae
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