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Les Invalides in Paris: the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte

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The Hôtel des Invalides is a large complex of buildings built between 1671 and 1676, at the behest of Louis XIV, to house the disabled soldiers of his army. This property is located in Paris a short distance from the famous Eiffel Tower.


The building, which was designed and built by the architect Libéral Bruant, is a huge complex with a 196m long facade, 15 internal courtyards and some interesting chapels. Including the Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides (1679), built by the architect Jules Hardouin Mansart on a design by Bruant. And the Église du Dôme (1706-1708), the work of Mansart, built as a royal chapel for Louis XIV, with a golden dome that recalls the shapes of the dome of St. Peter’s in Rome, and which today houses the tomb of Napoleon I.

Even today, part of the building of the Hôtel des Invalides has retained its original function as a shelter for disabled soldiers. But inside, in addition to the aforementioned tomb of Napoleon I, there are other important sepulchres such as those of the son of Napoleon I, François Bonaparte (Napoléone II), Joseph and Jérôme Bonaparte (brothers of Napoleon I), of Marshal de Turenne. To end with that of the genius officer Rouget de Lisle, author of the Marseillaise, the French anthem.


Another important reason for a visit to the Hôtel des Invalides is the presence inside the important Musée de l’Armée (Military Museum of the Army) which preserves armaments and trophies of French history, from prehistory to the Second World War.

The museum is divided into several sections: Ancient weapons and armor from the Paleolithic to the mid-17th century (Armes et Armures Anciennes). Modern weapons 1648-1792 and 1792-1871 (Département Moderne (1648-1792) (1792-1871)). The weapons of the two world wars 1871-1945 (Département Des deux guerres mondiales (1871-1945)). The artillery (Département Artillerie). The emblems (Département Emblèmes). The collection of historical figures (Les collections de figurines historiques). The paintings and sculptures (Département des peintures et sculptures). Finally the cabinet of prints, drawings and photography.

Other notable museums, also at the Hôtel des Invalides are: the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, a very interesting collection of relief models of fortresses, cities, and landscape and natural aspects dating from the 17th to the 19th century. And finally the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, dedicated to resistance against the Germans during the Second World War.

To the north of the building is a large esplanade, the Esplanade des Invalides. Characterized by large gardens where the embassies of Austria and Finland are located, and also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Les Invalides are one of the largest spaces free of buildings located within Paris. To the east is the Musée Rodin, which houses works by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin, by Camille Claudel, and paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

HOW TO GET THERE: To reach the Hôtel des Invalides you can use the metro stations of Invalides, La Tour-Maubourg and Varenne.

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