Les Invalides

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Hôtel des Invalides
Invalides aerial view.jpg
Aerial view of Les Invalides
Les Invalides
Alternative namesLes Invalides, Musée de l'Armée
General information
Type Museum, church, hospital, retirement home, mausoleum
Architectural style Baroque
Location Paris, France
Construction started1671
Inaugurated1678 completed 1793
Design and construction
Architect Libéral Bruant, Jules Hardouin-Mansart

Les Invalides (French pronunciation:  [lezɛ̃valid] ), formally the Hôtel national des Invalides (The National Residence of the Invalids), or also as Hôtel des Invalides, 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 Dôme des Invalides, a large church, the tallest in Paris at a height of 107 meters, [1] with the tombs of some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon.

Contents

History

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. [2] 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 (643 ft) 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. This chapel was known as Église Saint-Louis des Invalides, and daily attendance of the veterans in the church services 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 below). The domed chapel was finished in 1793

Later history

Napoleon I visiting the infirmary of Les Invalides Veron-Bellecourt - Napoleon Ier visitant l'infirmerie des Invalides, 11 fevrier 1808.jpg
Napoleon I visiting the infirmary of Les Invalides

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 (invalides) until the early twentieth century. In 1872 the musée d'artillerie (Artillery Museum) was located within the building to be joined by the musée historique des armées (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.

Architecture

Le plan de l'Hotel des Invalides Plan of Hotel des Invalides, Paris.svg
Le plan de l'Hôtel des Invalides
  Dome of Les Invalides
  Saint-Louis-des-Invalides Cathedral
  Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération
  Institution nationale des Invalides
  Gouverneur des Invalides
  Gouverneur militaire de Paris
  Chancellerie de l'Ordre de la Libération
  Office national des anciens combattants et victimes de guerre
  • 1. Cour d'honneur
  • 2. Cour d'Angoulème
  • 3. Cour d'Austerlitz
  • 4. Cour de la Victoire
  • 5. Cour de la Valeur
  • 6. Cour de Mars
  • 7. Cour de Toulon
  • 8. Cour de Nismes
  • 9. Cour de Metz
  • 10. Cour de l'Infirmerie
  • 11. Cour d'Oran
  • 12. Cour de la Paix
  • 13. Cour d'Arles
  • 14. Cour d'Alger
  • 15. Cour Saint-Louis
  • 16. Cour Saint-Joseph
  • 17. Cour Saint-Jacques
The north front of the Invalides: Mansart's dome above Bruant's pedimented central block Hotel des Invalides, North View, Paris 7e 140402 1.jpg
The north front of the Invalides: Mansart's dome above Bruant's pedimented central block

On the north front of Les Invalides, 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 neighbors 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 buildings still comprise the Institution Nationale des Invalides, [3] a national institution for disabled war veterans. The institution comprises:

Churches at Les Invalides

The Dome des Invalides, 107 metres (351 ft) tall and decorated with 12.65 kilograms (27.9 lb) of gold leaf, is an important landmark in Paris. Cathedrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides, 140309 2.jpg
The Dôme des Invalides, 107 metres (351 ft) tall and decorated with 12.65 kilograms (27.9 lb) of gold leaf, is an important landmark in Paris.

In 1676, Jules Hardouin-Mansart was commissioned to construct a place of worship on the site. He designed a building which combined a royal chapel (now Dôme des Invalides) with a veterans' chapel (now Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides). In this way, the King and his soldiers could attend mass simultaneously, while entering the place of worship through different entrances, as prescribed by court etiquette. This separation was reinforced in the 19th century with the erection of the tomb of Napoleon I, the creation of the two separate altars and then with the construction of a glass wall between the two chapels.

The Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides

When the Army Museum at Les Invalides was founded in 1905, the veterans' chapel was placed under its administrative control. It is now the cathedral of the Diocese of the French Armed Forces, officially known as Cathédrale Saint-Louis-des-Invalides. [4]

Dôme des Invalides

The Dôme des Invalides (originally Chapelle royale des Invalides) is a large former church in the centre of the Les Invalides complex, 107 metres (351 ft) high.

The dôme was designated to become Napoleon's funeral place by a law dated 10 June 1840. Ousted in 1815 by the allied armies, Napoleon had stayed so popular in France that Louis-Philippe, the King of France from 1830 to 1848, returned his "ashes" in 1840. (His "ashes" mean his "mortal remains"; Napoleon was not cremated). [5] The excavation and erection of the crypt, which heavily modified the interior of the domed church, took twenty years to complete and was finished in 1861. [6] [7]

Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the original for all baroque domes, the Dôme des Invalides 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.

The interior of the dome 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. [8]

Tombs and vaults

De La Fosse's allegories under the dome over the tomb of Napoleon Paris - Plafond du dome des Invalides.jpg
De La Fosse's allegories under the dome over the tomb of Napoleon
The sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte Tomb of Napoleon, Paris 7 October 2012 003.jpg
The sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte
Tomb of Napoleon II at Les Invalides, Paris Napoleon II Tomb.jpg
Tomb of Napoleon II at Les Invalides, Paris

Tombs

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 remains 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:

Vaults

The bodies of the following are interred in the vaults of the Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides [9] (see images: 1, 2, 3, 4):

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

See also

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References

  1. "Paris facts". Paris Digest. 2018. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  2. "The Paris Army Museum - Hôtel des Invalides". citibreak.fr. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2016.
  3. "Institution Nationale des Invalides". Archived from the original on 31 August 2011.
  4. Cathedral of Saint-Louis des Invalides (online), accessed 16 October 2015
  5. "Napoleon's tomb facts" . Retrieved September 1, 2018.
  6. Dôme des Invalides, tomb of Napoleon I, accessed 18 October 2015
  7. Musée de l’Armée Invalides - Brochure, accessed 18 October 2015
  8. "Apotheosis of Saint Louis - Musée de l'Armée". www.musee-armee.fr. Retrieved 2017-01-27.
  9. Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides: Le tombeau des Gouverneurs (online), accessed 16 October 2015