In 1744 Louis XV attributed his recovery from serious illness to prayers made to Saint Geneviève, the patron saint of Paris, and pledged to dedicate a prestigious church to her name. The design of the new basilica was entrusted to Jacques-Germain Soufflot in 1755. His ambition was to outdo the church of St Peter in Rome. The building was not completed until 1790. In 1791 the monument was turned into a national Pantheon. For two periods during the 19th century the monument was home to Christian worship before finally being given over to secular use in 1885 with the funeral of Victor Hugo.
Today many of France's national heroes are buried in the crypt.
The walls are painted with murals depicting the lives of Clovis, the first King of France,
St Geneviève, Charlemagne and Joan of Arc - shown below.