Still on half timbered houses in Northern France

Half-timbering technique was a popular method to build houses in medieval and early modern times in Northern Europe (Denmark, England, Scotland, Germany / Prussia, parts of France and Switzerland). Houses were constructed by means of first timber framing of walls. The space between polls and planks was later filled in with other building material like stone, bricks, etc. In medieval cities to provide more housing space in houses built alongside narrow streets, many houses were constructed with overhangs of upper floors over the ground floor (called jetties).

The streets of historical towns in Northern France are a mixture of different architecture styles, sometimes well-preserved from the past, sometimes rebuilt after fires or war damage. On pictures above you can see three main characteristics: grey sand stone bricks,  slate roofs that sometimes cover also part of facades at upper floors and half-timbered walls with timber frames painted mostly in blue, red and green.

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The Panthéon

The Panthéon

The Panthéon in Paris (not to be confused with the Pantheon in Rome) is one of the places on a must-see list in Paris. The building is relatively new, as it was built in the late XVIII century.

Originally it was thought to be a church devoted to St. Genevieve, commissioned by Louis XV (the great grand son of Luis XIV) as a votive offering for saving him from illness. It replaced the old church of St. Genevieve. The construction works lasted from 1764 to 1789 and ended just at the outburst of the French Revolution (to be exact, its first wave marked by the demolition of the Bastille). As commonly known, the French Revolution promoted civil and secular society. Thus, in 1791, the National Constituent Assembly (at this time a sort of revolutionary government in France) decided to convert the newly constructed church into a burial site, a kind of a civil temple (a pantheon), for the ‘the great men of the epoch of French liberty’.

Although from this time on, the building was indeed serving as the Panthéon, its secular status was not preserved for long. Till 1885, alongside with political changes in the revolutionary France (Republic vs. Empire >>>) it regained twice its sacred status.

Although in its construction structure the building resembles a church (it has a cross pattern), and the very impressive frescoes depicting scenes of St. Genevieve life are still well preserved, the Panthéon is a fully secular building now. As you enter and look straight at the spot where in a church you would find an altar you will see a monument devoted to the National Convention (the first French assembly elected in 1792 by a suffrage without distinctions of class) and behind it a fresco called Towards Glory depicting the Napoleonic wars >>> (that followed after the First French Republic was converted into the French Empire by Napoleon Bonaparte). In the interiors you will find some other sculptures depicting scenes of the revolutionary France. The actual pantheon, the burial site of famous French, is located below the building in the crypt. The crypt is kept very simple. Most of burial sites are located in small cells with up to five tombs. Only selected ones are additionally decorated.

Below some photo impression of this impressive building and its interiors.

The exterior, with the impressive Corinthian columns.

The Pantheon, Paris, France. Continue reading