Les Invalides

Paris, France

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.

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Details

Founded: 1670
Category: Palaces, manors and town halls in France

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4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Traveling With Spice (3 months ago)
An exceptional building with lot of history. We love the Dome inside and out. Napoleons tomb was such an amazing sight to see in Paris. All the military history you can see in this building , it covers the French Army History. Architecture is really impressive, my photos will not do justice to this beautiful dome..Visit this place if are around Paris
nilaj bhattacharya (3 months ago)
Les Invalides (French pronunciation: ​[lezɛ̃valid]), formally the Hôtel national des Invalides, also Hôtel des Invalides (literally, "House of the disabled") is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, France, 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 buildings’ 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. The complex also includes the former hospital chapel, now national cathedral of the French military, and the adjacent former Royal Chapel known as the Dôme des Invalides, the tallest church building in Paris at a height of 107 meters. The latter has been converted into a shrine of some of France's leading military figures, most notably the tomb of Napoleon.
Zdeněk Novák (3 months ago)
Space. A lot of space. For walking. Or running. Basically if you own a space shuttle, you can land there without problems.
Alexander Vallar (8 months ago)
Disrespectful tourists are the absolute worst. Please remember this is Napoleon's tomb, be quiet and aware of your surroundings. It's full of French history and artifacts. The architecture and mural on the dome are unforgettable!
Daniel Morrison (12 months ago)
Beautiful loved the field full of rabbits out front.
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