The Château de Landskron is situated in the southern part of Alsace, mere footsteps away from Switzerland. The castle was built before 1297. It had a very important strategic position in that it allowed the control of the Eastern Sundgau, the elbow of the Rhine and the city of Basel.
Several disputes concerning the ownership have been reported. Like the Château de Ferrette and Château de Morimont, the Château de Landskron was owned by Habsburg for a time. In 1462, the castle was given to the Lord of the Bailiwick of Lupfen, Sébastien de Reichenstein, who later enlarged and transformed the castle to adapt it to firearms in 1516.
In 1648, by the Peace of Westphalia which ended the Thirty Years' War, the lands and lordships of the Habsburgs in Alsace, including the Château de Landskron, passed into the hands of the King of France. After 1665, Vauban was responsible for rebuilding the castle into a military garrison, while many other Alsatian castles were abandoned and gradually destroyed.
In the 1690s, it was used as a state prison. The few prisoners who were imprisoned there until the French Revolution were predominantly political prisoners and the mentally ill. Bernard Duvergez, a courtier at the French court, was held there from 1769 until 1790 when he was discovered by revolutionaries looking for political prisoners. He died while waiting for them to find him a better place. He is the subject of a local novel, The Prisoner of Landskron.
The castle survived the Revolution, whereas the houses of the wealthy in Leyman were burned. The castle was destroyed in 1813 by the Austrian and the Bavarian armies fighting Napoléon Bonaparte.
After that time it was a ruin. In the 1970s, the former owners installed a colony of monkeys into the ruins. Since 1984, the castle has belonged to the Association pour la Sauvegarde du Château de Landskron and was partly restored in 1996.
One of the main characteristics of the castle is its big rectangular tower or keep.
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.