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

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Waldemar Schmidt (10 months ago)
Amazing place with wandering atmosphere! If you like history this place is exactly for you. S₩end there 2h. But it was not enough. I would recommend to plan 3 hours took every object
Theseas (11 months ago)
One of the best monuments in Paris. The interior is wonderful, so is the church you can find inside. Worth going when there is a service so that you can hear the choir. The museum was also nice with a beautiful collection of weapons. All in all a wonderful experience with a lot of walking.
Muzik Nostalgia (12 months ago)
Probably one of my favourite places I'm Paris, so much to see, you'll need a good few hours to spend looking around. The museum is great and the architecture is amazing. The highlight was obviously Napoleon's tomb.
STEVE MOTOCRAYZ (12 months ago)
Sobering & fulfilling at the same time. Lots of French history contained - actually, >>exuding, from this grandiose heratige site. If you adore the Little Corporate, this is a must ; if you are curious about the French in world & European history, bring a lunch...' cause it's all pretty much here.
Klaas Zuurbier (13 months ago)
Amazing place to visit. Napoleon's grave is absolutely stunning and the marble halls and other graves are beautiful as well. I got in for free. Be sure to check if you can as well!
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