The Invalides

The Invalides consist of a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris containing museums and monuments, all relating to France's military history, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building's original purpose. It is also the burial site for some of France's war heroes.

History

King Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated November 24, 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers : the name is a shortened form of “hôpital des invalides”, the hospital for invalids. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The project was completed in 1676. Then it was felt that the veterans required a chapel, in which Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and finished it in 1679 to Bruant's designs after the elder architect's death. The chapel is known as Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides. Shortly after the veterans' chapel was completed, Louis XIV had Mansart construct a separate private royal chapel, often referred to as the église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome the original for all Baroque domes; it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. It was finished in 1708. The interior of the dome was painted by Le Brun's disciple Charles de La Fosse with a Baroque illusion of space seen from below perspective. The painting was completed in 1705.
To the north the courtyard is extended by a wide public esplanade (“Esplanade des Invalides”), one of the grand open spaces in the heart of Paris. At its far end, the Pont Alexandre III links this grand urbanistic axis with the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais.
The most notable tomb at Les Invalides is that of Napoléon Bonaparte (1769-1821) in the crypt under Mansart's dome. Napoleon was initially interred on Saint Helena but King Louis-Philippe arranged for his remains to be brought to St Jerome's Chapel in Paris in 1840. A renovation of Les Invalides took many years but in 1861 Napoléon was moved to the most prominent location under the dome at Les Invalides. Les Invalides is also the burial site for some of Napoléon's family, for several military officers who served under him, and other French military heroes such as Gérard Duroc, Ferdinand Foch and Vauban. The buildings still comprise the Institution Nationale des Invalides, a national institution for disabled war veterans. The buildings also house the Musée de l'Armée, the military museum of the Army of France.
LINK : The Invalides