Travel

Les Invalides – Napoleon’s last haven

The capital of France is famous for the whole world for sights created by numerous masters throughout many centuries which continue pleasing both local residents, and millions of tourists from every corner of the globe. Perhaps, there aren’t many people on this planet who doesn’t know such names as Tour Eiffel, Arch Triomphe, the Louvre or Versailles. At the same time there are many places in Paris which have no bright tourist coloring, though their appeal and the historical importance do not become less. Among constructions of that kind it is necessary to mention Les Invalides.

This place is obliged by its occurrence to the French king Louis XIV, who in the seventeenth centuries has made decision to base a special centre for veterans of wars (and at that time there were plenty of them going on in Europe), who received serious wounds and mutilations on the field of fight. Thus, it is possible to tell that Les Invalides became the display of monarch care of this category of French citizens.

Originally Louis’ decree about building of this establishment has been signed in 1660; however the construction actually started in eleven years, and lasted for more than three decades.

Architectural bases of a construction has been made by architect Libéral Bruant who has taken part in creating the whole ensemble of Les Invalides – from barracks and a shelter to the construction of Saint Patrick’s church, and the area of all architectural ensemble made more than 175 thousand square meters.

On the territory there is also a big esplanade which has appeared a bit later –in the eighteenth century so far. At the entrance of Les Invalides territory so-called “triumphal” guns are installed, shots from which are made exclusively on the occasion of significant events. In the court yard of the complex numerous military long-range guns from battlefields are settled down, they are the proof underlining glorious history of soldiers of France. It is remarkable that you can find the guns from the Second World War on which names of the soldiers participating in the capture of Berlin in 1945 are engraved. Thanks to such a big collection Les Invalides is one of the most interesting military museums not only in Paris, but also in all French republic.

But, let’s come back to the history of construction of the complex. In spite of the fact that Libéral Bruant was the first architect, the construction had been finished by the legendary French architect of the seventeenth century Jules Hardouin Mansart who created Versailles and Place Vendôme. The architectural phenomenon of penthouse (or mansard) is obliged by the occurrence to Mansart. Sounds conformably with the surname, doesn’t it? And here in Les Invalides Church of the Hôtel des Invalides is his creation. It is a significant place of worshiping the glory of the French troops.

Outwardly Les Invalides Cathedral is completely sustained in strict style of the whole complex, even the building lay-out has been executed in the form of the Greek cross. The roof of the central hall from which four big corridors (they terminate in chapels of an angular kind) depart, is crowned with an original dome. In these chapels many great soldiers of France, among them Joseph Bonaparte (Napoleon’s elder brother), marshals of France Vauban, Foch, Lyautey, Turenne, and also Rouget de Lisle, composer of La Marseillaise, are buried.

However, in any case the basis of the Cathedral is its central hall, after all the ashes of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte which have been transported from Saint Helena’s island in 1840 lay here.  Being in Paris – visit this place; it is unique from the historical point of view. Believe us, it’s worth it.