Results 1-10of 13 Reviews
by Lisa MacDonald
Cambridge, United Kingdom
January 6, 2002
A short walk from the Rodin museum is the Hotel des Invalides, a home for wounded soldiers built under the orders of Louis XIV. It became more of a shrine to Napoléon and those he was close to, complete with a massive tomb containing the remains of Napoléon himself.
Napoleon is encased Russian doll style, in seven separate caskets made of various materials. I read a quote from a writer saying that some Parisians felt that the seven caskets were constructed to ensure he never gets out again. It's an obscenely large tomb (42 feet high) for a man of such small stature.
Also buried in Invalides is his son (with the epitaph "King of Rome"), his brother, and assorted other military people that I know little about.
Les Invalides is interesting in its pomposity and grandeur, as another one of Napoléon's "over the top" monuments. Its massive gold dome is a stunning landmark seen from almost any vantage point in the city.
From journal A New Year's Holiday in Paris
February 28, 2001
From journal Paris - Been There Done That Bought The T-Shirt...
Diamond Bar, California
June 21, 2005
What I did enjoy, though, was the building itself and the church. The building had the most interesting windows that were done up as suits of armor. There is also a large courtyard bordered with cannons and interesting astrological clocks. The church is actually divided in two. One side was for the soldiers and the other side was for the royalty. It was quite unique. Of course, there was also Napoleon’s tomb which was huge. He was originally buried at St. Helena, which is where he was exiled to, but he was moved back to Paris in 1840.
From journal Paris for Beginners
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
November 4, 2004
Built by Louis XIV, the Hôtel des Invalides is the largest architectural project of his reign after Palais de Versailles. It was built for his wounded soldiers, who previously had no option but to live by stealing if they refused to join the abbeys, and they were obligated to take them in.
The construction was undertaken by Libéral Bruant, who built the eastern half of the building on the Grenelle plain between 1671 and 1674. The first group of veterans moved in immediately. Before the western section was completed, Louis replaced Bruant with Jules Hardouin-Mansart, who built the double church of the Invalides. The Soldiers' Church, for the pensioners, opened in 1677. And the Domed Church, reserved for the king and his entourage, opened in 1706.
The Soldiers' Church can be entered through a gallery on the second floor of the main court. It has an austere barrel vault that is 230 feet long, without a transept. There is a custom of hanging captured enemy flags from its ceiling, a custom that dates back to the age of the Empire. The flags hung here all date after March 17, 1814; on this date, the allies entered Paris, and Marshal Serurier, then Governer of the Invalide, ordered the destruction of all trophies.
The Dôme was originally conceived as a mausoleum of the Bourbons at St. Denis, but had never been carried through. The complex, centralized design of the building allowed for optimal light. More than 27,830 pounds of gold (approximately 555,000 gold leaves) was used on the dome, with up to 10 master goldsmiths deployed in 1989 for the production. After December 15, 1840, when Napoleon's ashes were brought back to Paris, the dome became the mausoleum of the Bonapartes. The crypt is 20 feet deep, with an opening 49 feet in diameter; it holds the Emperor's tomb, which is made of Finnish red porphyry.
The central pavilion, with the entrance to the Invalides, is rounded in shape and is decorated with a carved pediment depicting the Sun King.
Pensioners lived in the ancillary buildings with ordinary soldiers, sleeping five or six to a room, whilst officers' rooms had one or two beds. Invalid pensioners had individual rooms in the infirmary. Ten years of military service was the requirement for admittance to the Invalides, and prayers and mass were compulsory. The building can accommodate up to 2,000 veterans, but had 3,000 in 1710, functioning almost as a small town!
After the return of Napoleon's ashes, the mausoleum began to take precedence over the soldiers' homes. Today, cannons no longer fire at the Invalides to announce great events, but it still has a modern surgical hospital and houses the museums of the Army, Relief Maps and Plans, and the Liberation.
From journal Paris, for All Seasons, All the Year Through
June 19, 2004
The military museum was packed with war artifacts including weapons and uniforms from France's history. My husband was very interested in the design of weapons and their progression, but I also was enthralled by the sense of history and how the items were presented. Initially, I thought it would be just a "guy thing", but it proved to be very interesting to the women in our party as well. It was a relatively narrow building with 2 floors of displays including a gift shop on the second floor.
After visiting the museum, we went through the complex toward Napolean's tomb where the cafeteria was located. We sat and had an average lunch of prepared sandwiches. This was a bit pricey, but the meal suited our needs at the time.
As we entered the domed building where Napolean's body lay, I was struck by how highly the French thought of him. We came in on the second level and looked down through the center of the rotunda to see the casket. It was enormous! The man was quite small in stature so I could just imagine how little a space his body would take up in such a huge box. It was very interesting to read some of the history plaques with information about Josephine and his brother. I was just put off by the arrogance shown in the building with its gold dome gleaming in the sun. Still, I would say this is a "must see" when visiting Paris just so you can say you saw it.
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February 6, 2001
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February 17, 2005
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