The Munttoren ('Coin Tower') was originally part of the Regulierspoort, one of the main gates in Amsterdam's medieval city wall. The gate, built in the years 1480, consisted of two towers and a guard house. The name of the tower refers to the fact that it was used to mint coins in the 17th century.
After the gate went up in flames in a 1618 fire, only the guard house and part of the western tower remained standing. The tower was then rebuilt in Amsterdam Renaissance style in 1620, with an eight-sided top half and elegant open spire designed by Hendrick de Keyser, featuring a clockwork with four clockfaces and a carillon of bells.
The carillon was made in 1668 by Pieter Hemony, who added new bells to the instrument that he and his brother François had made earlier for the tower of the Amsterdam stock exchange in 1651. In 1873, the original baton keyboard was removed from the carillon, in favor of changes to the clockwork mechanism. In 1960 a manual playing system and a manual baton keyboard was re-installed. The current carillon consists of 38 bells. A mechanism causes the bells to chime every quarter of an hour.
The guard house is not the original medieval structure but a 19th century replica. The original guard house, which had survived the fire of 1618 relatively unscathed, was replaced with a new building during 1885-1887 in Neo-Renaissance style. An underpass was added to the building during a 1938-1939 renovation.References:
Les Invalides is a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building"s original purpose. The buildings house the Musée de l"Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d"Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France"s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte.
Louis XIV initiated the project in 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant. The enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant"s designs after the elder architect"s death.
Shortly after the veterans" chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel 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. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.
Because of its location and significance, the Invalides served as the scene for several key events in French history. On 14 July 1789 it was stormed by Parisian rioters who seized the cannons and muskets stored in its cellars to use against the Bastille later the same day. Napoleon was entombed under the dome of the Invalides with great ceremony in 1840. In December 1894 the degradation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus was held before the main building, while his subsequent rehabilitation ceremony took place in a courtyard of the complex in 1906.
The building retained its primary function of a retirement home and hospital for military veterans until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d"artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the Historical Museum of the Armies in 1896. The two institutions were merged to form the present musée de l"armée in 1905. At the same time the veterans in residence were dispersed to smaller centres outside Paris. The reason was that the adoption of a mainly conscript army, after 1872, meant a substantial reduction in the numbers of veterans having the twenty or more years of military service formerly required to enter the Hôpital des Invalides. The building accordingly became too large for its original purpose. The modern complex does however still include the facilities detailed below for about a hundred elderly or incapacitated former soldiers.