Les Invalides

Les Invalides

Coordinates: 48°51′18″N 2°18′45″E / 48.855°N 2.3125°E / 48.855; 2.3125

L'Hôtel national des Invalides
GD-FR-Paris-Les Invalides.jpg
View from the Eiffel Tower
Alternative names Les Invalides, Musée de l'Armée
General information
Type Museum, Church, Hospital, Retirement home, Mausoleum
Architectural style Baroque
Construction started 1670
Inaugurated 1679
Design and construction
Architect Libéral Bruant, Jules Hardouin Mansart

Les Invalides (French pronunciation: [lezɛ̃valid]), officially known as L'Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), 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 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 (lists below).



Louis XIV ordering the construction of Les Invalides

Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated 24 November 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 selected site was in the then suburban plain of Grenelle (plaine de Grenelle). By the time the enlarged project was completed in 1676, the river front measured 196 metres and the complex had fifteen courtyards, the largest being the cour d'honneur ("court of honour") for military parades. It was then felt that the veterans required a chapel. Jules Hardouin Mansart assisted the aged Bruant, and the chapel was finished in 1679 to Bruant's designs after the elder architect's death. The chapel is known as Église Saint-Louis des Invalides. Daily attendance was required.

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 (see gallery). Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture. Mansart raised its drum with an attic storey over its main cornice, and employed the paired columns motif in his more complicated rhythmic theme. The general programme is sculptural but tightly integrated, rich but balanced, consistently carried through, capping its vertical thrust firmly with a ribbed and hemispherical dome. The domed chapel is centrally placed to dominate the court of honour. It was finished in 1708.

The interior of the dome (see gallery) was painted by Le Brun's disciple Charles de La Fosse with a Baroque illusion of space (sotto in su) seen from below. The painting was completed in 1705.


The north front of the Invalides: Mansart's dome above Bruant's pedimented central block

On the north front of Les Invalides (illustration, right) Hardouin-Mansart's chapel dome is large enough to dominate the long façade, yet harmonizes with Bruant's door under an arched pediment. To the north, the courtyard (cour d'honneur) is extended by a wide public esplanade (Esplanade des Invalides) where the embassies of Austria and Finland are neighbours of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, all forming one of the grand open spaces in the heart of Paris. At its far end, the Pont Alexandre III links this grand urbanistic axis with the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. The Pont des Invalides is next, downstream the Seine river. The Hôpital des Invalides spurred William III of England to emulation, in the military Greenwich Hospital of 1694.

The buildings still comprise the Institution Nationale des Invalides [2], a national institution for disabled war veterans. The institution comprises:

  • a retirement home
  • a medical and surgical centre
  • a centre for external medical consultations.


Tombs and vaults


De La Fosse's allegories under the dome over the tomb of Napoleon
The sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte
Marshal Foch's tomb
Marshal Vauban's tomb

The most notable tomb at Les Invalides is that of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821). Napoleon was initially interred on Saint Helena, but King Louis-Philippe arranged for his remains to be brought to France in 1840, an event known as le retour des cendres. Napoléon's ashes were first buried in the Chapelle Saint-Jérôme in the Invalides until his final resting place, a tomb made of red quartzite and resting on a green granite base, was finished in 1861.

Some members of Napoleon's family, several military officers who served under him, and other French military heroes are also buried at Les Invalides:


The bodies of the following are interred in the vaults of Les Invalides:

The hearts of the following are interred in the vaults of Les Invalides while their bodies rest elsewhere:

Works inspired or influenced by Les Invalides

  • The present dome of the United States Capitol, designed by Thomas U. Walter, was inspired in part by the dome at Les Invalides. Both are "wedding-cake" style double-shelled domes with an oculus in the inner shell allowing those below to view a circular painting on the inner surface of the outer dome. The Capitol dome's architect Thomas U. Walter, had previously visited Les Invalides, and is said to have been struck by it.
  • San Francisco City Hall Built in 1914-1915, opened in the latter year.
  • The United States Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Maryland USA, built 1904-1908, architect Ernest Flagg. The chapel was enlarged in 1940, changing it from a Greek cross to a Roman cross. The new section was designed by Philadelphia architect Paul Cret. John Paul Jones is buried in the crypt in a sarcophagus made of marble from the Pyrenees donated by the people of France.
  • Panteón de los Héroes built in 1864 and finished in 1936. Cultural Patrimony of Asunción,[1] it's an oratory of the Assumption of Mary and inside it rest some of the greatest heroes of Paraguay like Francisco Solano López, José Félix Estigarribia and others. Designed by the Italian architect Alessandro Ravizza.

See also


  1. ^ [1]

External links

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