Paris-9/24/2015 - 10-5/2015

Les Invalides exterior-Chapel of St. Louis

Army Museum

World war II-Napoleon's tomb

Pont D'alexandre III

Hotel des Invalides-Musee de L'arme

 Htel des Invalides was founded in 1671 by Louis XIV, the Sun King, as he wanted to provide accommodation for disabled and impoverished war veterans. 

Located in the 7th arrondissement the Htel des Invalides house the Muse de l'Arme (the military museum of French the Army), the Muse des Plans-Reliefs, and the Muse d'Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the Dme des Invalides, a large church with the burial site for some of France's war heroes, most notably Napoleon Bonaparte.  Les Invalides is actually a shortened form  Hpital des Invalides meaning The Hospital for Invalids.

 

The front facade facing the Seine river is 196 meters long (643 ft).
The building was completed in 1676 and housed up to 4,000 war veterans. A wide, 500 meters long esplanade designed by Robert de Cotte separates the Htel des Invalides from the late nineteenth-century Pont Alexandre III and Seine river.  You will see the Pont Alexandre at the end of the visit.

The church is connected directly with the Royal chapel, better known as the Dme des Invalides. This chapel with a 107 meter high dome (351 ft) was for exclusive use of the royal family. Construction of the dome was completed in 1708, 27 years after the first stone was laid.

The dome itself was inspired by the origin of all Baroque domes such as the dome of the grand St. Peters Basilica in Rome. In 1989 during the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution, the dome itself was regilded for the 5th time since its creation. During the process, a large number of thin gold leaves were used. The total weight equaled around ten kilos pure gold. 

The north front of the Invalides

Artillery at the Invalides

The entry point is guarded by a gendarme who lifts and replaces a stop sign mounted on a metal pole from a post hole in the ground when cars need to enter or exit.

Entering the Museum

 

Kevin and Kristie admiring the architecture of the building.

 

Entering la court d'honneur (the courtyard)

 

The whole complex features no less than fifteen courtyards, the largest being the cour d'honneur (court of honor). This courtyard was used for military parades.

 

This courtyard is very grandiose and beautiful.

 

The main courtyard and the entrance of the Army Museum

On the left of the entrance you can admire 60 French classical bronze cannons, which are the jewels of the artillery collections of the Army Museum, and a dozen howitzers and mortars.

 

Chapel of Saint-Louis-des-Invalides

The soldiers chapel opened in 1677, only one year after the completion of the main Hpital des Invalides. The chapel is known as glise Saint-Louis des Invalides and  is now the cathedral for the French armies. After it had been completed, daily attendance was required for all the veterans staying at Les Invalides and were required to attend the daily mass here.

Soon after the main Hpital des Invalides had been completed, King Louis XIV decided that the veterans also required a chapel to pray in, the church of Saint-Louis was added as an annex to the complex. 

Saint-Louis is part of a hospital for wounded French soldiers, still in operation today. In 1676, the Secretary of State for War commissioned a chapel for the hospital to be finished. This chapel was to be combined with the Royal Chapel, the Dme des Invalides, and the veterans' chapel.

The King and his soldiers could attend mass simultaneously, while entering the place of worship though different entrances, as prescribed by 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.

This chapel, which opens onto the main courtyard, is a good example of classical architecture.

The church also houses one of the largest instruments in France, its beautiful organ. The organ is located at the back of the chapel, above the entrance.

The organ case was made between 1679 and 1687 by Germain Pilon

 

Sculpture of  Jesus's tomb inside the chapel

 

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