Dômes - Hôtel des Invalides, Paris
I found visiting Napoleans tomb to be a great study in human behavior. Watching the reverence which the French still holds him is incredible. As a history buff, the worlds’ fascination with Napoleon probably marks the last time a conqueror like he will be considered a national hero. We can think of Alexander the great, Caesar and Napoleon in a different light than the more recent megalomaniacs such as Stalin and Hitler because of the distance in time.
On May 5th 1821, he died in Saint Helens, a very small island in the South Atlantic Ocean where victorious England had exiled him very far away from France. The former emperor's body was returned to France in 1840 and, after a state funeral, was laid to rest in St Jerome's Chapel while his tomb was completed in 1861.
There was no expense spared for the tomb and Napoleon Bonaparte's body lies within six separate coffins. They are made of iron, mahogany, two of lead, ebony, and the outer one is red porphyry. The tomb sits on a green-granite pedestal surrounded by 12 pillars of victory.
the hotel des invalides was built in 1676 by louis XIV for wounded and homeless war veterans. in the center of the building is the golden dome of the sun king's dome church. in 1840 napoleon's body was interned in a magnificent red tomb in the center of the dome. the hotel des invalides has an excellent museum the covers military history from the stone age to WWII.
Les Invalides , do yo know what it means ? My French friends told me it means ' weak ' and i asked why when its the resting place of French's military Genius - Napolean Bornaparte ?
Actually Louis the 14th, the king who built the Versailles palace, staged many wars in Europe. In 1670, he decided to build the Invalides, a military hospital on the Seine river left banks. The objective was to create an institution to take care of wounded soldiers.
With their large church topped by a golden dome and 13 hectares building, the Invalides are a masterpiece of French classical architecture.
Look for the Musée de l'Armée (Army museum) and its large collection of armours from the Middle Ages. Varenne on line 13 is the nearest metro station.
The reason most people visit Les Invalides is to see Napoleons Tomb. As Les Invalides was a soldiers rest home, it was considered a fitting place to lay Napoleon to rest (even if he had died 19 years earlier in St Helena).
Napoleons remains are inside a large reddish coloured sarcophogus which has the prime spot inside the Dome church. It is possible to walk around the outside of this sarcophogus, but not to go right up to it.
Also inside the church are some of Frances other military leaders, although to the average tourist, they will only be interested in seeing Napoleons tomb.
One of the most striking features of the Paris skyline is the ornately decorated golden Dome Church at Invalides. Built from 1671 to 1676 by Louis XIV for wounded and homeless veterans (and as a monument to his own glory), Invalides is a sprawling structure with well-manicured gardens and courtyards near the south bank of the Seine in the Eiffel Tower Quarter. The Dome Church is also the final resting place of Napolean Bonaparte, and visitors can see his giant tomb up close.
Invalides still functions as a veterans' hospital to this day, though there is plenty of room for other things as well, including a very large military history museum that can easily consume much of a day to see in its entirety. And just east of Invalides is the spectacular Rodin Museum, which no visitor to Paris should miss. An excellent photo opportunity is to take a picture of Rodin's The Thinker with the Dome Church in the background.
When I arrived in Paris in the seventies, coming by train from Versailles, the Hotel des Invalides was the first huge building I saw. The view at its long facade dominated by the chapel dome together with the large open space of the Esplanade des Invalides in front are engraved in my memory as an unforgettable impression.
Les Invalides, originally a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, contains museums like the military museum of the Army of France and monuments, all related to France's military history.
The Invalides is most known because of the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). In 1861 Napoleon, initially interred on Saint Helena, was moved to this most prominent location under the dome. The Invalides is also the burial site for some other members of Napoleon's family, for several military officers who served under him and other French military heroes.
Les Invalides is an impressive ensemble including the beautiful Dome with Napoleon's tomb and the Army Museum displaying a rich collection of weapons and other souvenirs.
Les Invalided was built between 1671-1676 following Louis XIV's order and using funds raised from soldiers.
It was suppossed to house 4,000 persons.
During Napoleon, Les Invalides became a military mausoleum and since 1840 Napoleon's tomb can be found in the Dome.
This is a striking complex which is famous for housing all things military from museums to tombs and anything else in between. It began life as a hospital of sorts for disabled military personnel but its main claim to fame these days is that it is the final resting place of Napoleon 1 whose ashes are entombed in a magnificent structure under the famous dome.
Napoleon was of course originally buried under a tree in St Helena where he died in about 1821 but in 1840 King Louis-Philippe ordered his remains to be laid to rest under the dome of Les Invalides. The remains of several military giants such as Foch and Vauban and others can be found here as well.
The complex can be found in the 7 eme facing the Seine, not too far from the Eiffel Tower. It can be reached by Metro or RER on lines 8 and 13. Alight at the station called Invalides. It is also a featured stop on the Hop on Hop off L'Open Tour buses (the green ones) and probably Cars Rouges the red ones) as well though I can't vouch for this as I travelled on the green one.
The main attraction of the Dôme des Invalides is the Tomb of l'Emperrrreurrrrr, as I have called it in one of my reviews, namely the tomb of the emperor Napoléon Bonaparte (1769–1821).
But nearby, in one of the side niches, is a monument to another remarkable man, Sebastian le Prestre de Vauban (1633-1707), a French military engineer and adviser to King Louis XIV.
Unlike most military officers in the seventeenth century, Vauban did not belong to any sort of illustrious aristocratic family. He joined the army when he was seventeen (first a rebel army, but he soon switched over to the king’s side) and swiftly rose through the ranks entirely on merit, which in those days was nearly unheard of.
While he was still in his twenties, Vauban quickly impressed Louis XIV (who was five years younger) by his talent for designing and building fortifications and for conducting and repelling sieges. At age 22 Vauban was named an “engineer of the king” and spent several years strengthening the fortifications on the northern border of France.
When the next war began in 1667, Vauban was 34. Under the appreciative eye of the king, he successfully conducted the sieges of Turnai, Douai, Lille and Dôle, then returned to Lille and turned the Citadel into a formidable fortress.
In the next war, against Holland, Vauban successfully besieged the fortified city of Maastricht, using tactics of his own invention that revolutionized siege warfare. In the following years, he just as successfully besieged the fortified cities of Luxembourg, Mons, Namur and Charleroi.
When he was 45, Vauban was named Commissioner General of Fortifications. In this capacity, he traveled constantly all around the borders of France, inspecting the fortifications and designing improvements. In Toulon he fortified the harbor, built city walls and designed a new arsenal. In Marseille he inspected the island of If (later the prison of the fictional Count of Montecristo) and wrote a scathing report about the inadequacy of that island’s fortifications.
Altogether, in his long career, Vauban repaired and strengthened the existing fortifications in three hundred places, conducted fifty-three sieges and built thirty-three completely new fortresses. Many of these fortresses still exist today, and in 2008 twelve of them were designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
Since Vauban was constantly on the road for over forty years, travelling through and around France, he got to know the country very well – certainly much better than Louis XIV, who as he grew older became increasingly immobile in his palace in Versailles, surrounded by courtiers who told him what he wanted to hear rather than what he needed to know.
Vauban was always outspoken, and on his travels he bombarded the king (via the war minister Louvois) with reports and memos giving advice about how to defend the kingdom and where not to fight needless wars, but also telling him that the French people were starving because of the unjust tax system.
In the last two decades of his life, Vauban tried unsuccessfully to convince the king of two things, first that he should restore freedom of religion and allow the exiled Huguenots (Protestants) to return to France, and second that he should institute a sweeping reform of the tax system. Vauban wrote entire books on these topics, and these are the books that he is leaning his elbow on in the sculpture (first photo) in his monument in the Dôme des Invalides.
Louis XIV listened politely to these suggestions but never acted on them. Later generations found them more convincing, so Vauban’s posthumous reputation continued to rise.
A century after Vauban’s death (101 years after, to be exact), Napoléon ordered that Vauban’s heart should be taken from his grave, in his home town of Bazoches, and interred in the Invalides in Paris. (Of course after 101 years there wouldn’t have been much left of his heart, but it was the symbolic gesture that mattered.)
Second photo: These are two books about Vauban that I have read recently. I bought them both second-hand at one of the big Gibert Joseph bookshops on the Boulevard Saint Michel in Paris.
Third photo: Vauban’s fortifications in Lille, in the north of France, and Toulon, in the south.
Fourth photo: Napoléon’s tomb and the altar in the Dôme des Invalides.
Fifth photo: The Dôme des Invalides as seen from the garden of the Rodin Museum, across the street.
Address: Dôme des Invalides, Avenue de Tourville, 75007 Paris
Directions: Location and photo of Dôme des Invalides on monumentum.fr
Vélib' 7015 or 7014
Métro Varenne or La Tour-Maubourg
Next Paris review from March 2014: Hôtel Fieubet (École Massillon)
The Invalides complex were first built in 1670 by King Louis XIV of France. He wanted to build a place for those who were in the military but unable to serve any longer in the army either through disability or old age and undertook other activities in the complex. Over the centuries, the complex was used for similar military purposes by various French leaders including Napoleon. In fact a statue of Napoleon is placed above on one the buildings and looking across the courtyard.
Today, you can visit the Musee de L'Armee which has an interesting World Wars Department and military history exhibitions from Louis XIV to Napoloen III. There is the Soldiers Church worth visiting in the complex. My highlight was visiting the Dome Church, also in the complex, where you can see Napoleon's tom that was transported to France from St Helena in 1840 and admired the interior decor of the dome.
It cost 9 Euros (October 2010) to visit the Invalides Complex
The sarcophagus containing Napoleon's body, located in the center of the crypt, is surrounded by a gallery presenting on the inner side 12 statues by Pradier.
Inside the gallery on the wall, different representations of Napoleon show the great Emperor's contribution to the country's development in general and to the church, law, public life in particular.
The Hotel of Invalides was constructed in classical style in 1679-1709. Its dome decorated by a gold ornament with a graceful small lamp at a spike in height of 107 m.
The ashes of Napoleon transported from island of Sacred Elena in nineteen years after death of emperor is based inside.
In September of 1840 remains of Napoleon wre returned to France and burried, as well as remains of pharaons, in six coffins: from a tin, mahogany, lead, an eben tree and an oak. Coffins are placed in the big sarcophagus from a red granite. 12 winged Victories of emperor stand around. The Cathedral is a tribute of Napoleon memory.
You can watch my 3 min 16 sec Video Paris Invalides out of my Youtube channel.
Close to Eiffel Tower and Rodin Museum, you can enter with the Museum Pass.
Les Invalides includes 3 museums, the tomb of Napoleon and the church.
Musée de l'Armée
Musée des Plans-Reliefs
Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération
The museums were very very interesting, but it was a pity all was in French as I love the contemporanean history. is great how they preserve the memories of all the people that fight for their freedom, and it was a pity it was not in another languages.
He wanted to be near the Seine, and after a few years of his death (I think it was 50 years later) his wishes became true.
What best place also, as the church is impressive and close to the Arm museum, I am sure he is happy now.
After my glorious military career of one year, nine months and thirteen days as a draftee in the American Army (including fifty-one weeks in Vietnam), I am not exactly what you would call a military buff.
In fact I never thought I would voluntarily set foot in an army museum, and probably won’t again, but I must admit that the Army Museum in the Invalides in Paris is well worth seeing, especially since it has recently been redesigned and modernized.
The Invalides, as the name implies, is a building that was originally built as a home for disabled army veterans, and part of one wing of the building is still used for this purpose. But the rest is devoted to Napoléon’s tomb and – especially – the Army Museum.
The museum consists of several departments in various wings of this huge building. One of the largest is the “modern” department, covering the years from 1643 to 1870 under the title “From Louis XIV to Napoleon III”.
The museography here is superb. Most exhibits are shown under subdued light. Everything is clearly labeled and nicely organized. There are informative text panels in French and English, and the texts are much more balanced and objective that I would have expected from an army museum.
My only slight quibble is that the items on display are not of any great interest to an unreconstructed civilian like me. There are thousands of swords, for instance. It seems that every kind of officer in every epoch of French history had a special kind of sword, and they are all on display here.
Third photo: The same goes for rifles, though in the case of rifles I doubt if there are more than eight or nine hundred different types in the museum, since rifles do not have such a long history as swords do.
Fourth photo: Then there are the generals. All armies have generals, and before the invention of photography all generals liked to get dressed up in their fanciest uniforms and have their portraits painted. As a random example, here is a portrait of the (no doubt illustrious) general Bernard-Georges-François Frère (1764-1828), as portrayed for posterity by a painter named Nicolas Gosse in 1808.
Next review from June 2012: The Army Museum 1871-1945