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Hôtel des Invalides
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Hôtel des Invalides, officially known as L’Hôtel National des Invalides, or Les Invalides is a building complex consisting of museums and monuments in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The whole complex is related to the military history of France and also includes a retirement home for veterans, a military hospital and the Musée de l’Armée, which is the museum of the French army, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération, as well as a burial place for a few of France’s war heroes.
HistoryThe complex was founded in 1670 by King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, as a hospital for wounded, ill, and old soldiers. Originally there would only be a small number of barracks, but Louis XIV, with his infamous extravagance, chose a design by the architect, Libéral Bruant . That design showed a massive building with a church and a royal courtyard. When construction was complete, the complex consisted of no less than fifteen courtyards. A chapel was considered necessary by the Sun King’s minister of war and was added a few years later, known as Eglise Saint-Louis des Invalides. The entire Hôtel des Invalides could house up to 4,000 war veterans.
After the veterans’ chapel had been finished, Louis XIV ordered the architect to build a separate royal chapel, known as the Eglise du Dômeor the Dôme des Invalides. It was inspired by the St. Peter's Basilica, and the magnificent dome is one of the landmark French Baroque structures. The domed chapel is located in a central spot and dominates the court of honor, which is the largest of all fifteen courtyards and used for military parades. The chapel was finished in 1708.
The Hôtel des Invalides has played a prominent role in several historic events in France, mainly due to its location and importance. It was overtaken by French rebels on July 14, 1789, during the French Revolution. In 1840, it became the final resting place of Napoléon Bonaparte. The Dôme des Invalides now houses the tombs of several French military leaders.
Nowadays, the complex consists of a retirement home, a medical center and hospital, the Musée de l’Armée and two other museums.
ArchitectureThe front façade of the Hôtel des Invalides faces the River Seine and measures 196 meter. The massive dome – which by the way was the inspiration for the dome of the United States Capitol – is 107 meter high and dominates the façade. The main courtyard, Cour d’Honneur, is extended by a large street, Esplanade des Invalides, and forms one of the greatest open spaces in all of Paris. This is also where the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a couple of embassies are located. The beautiful Pont Alexandre III connects the complex with the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. Another bridge that crosses the river is the Pont des Invalides.
Visiting the Hôtel des InvalidesThe Hôtel des Invalides is home to three separate museums. The Musée des Plans-Reliefs, “Relief Maps Museum” in English, exhibits scale models of fortified cities and fortresses in France in great detail. The Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération focuses on the liberation of France during the Second World War and its leader, Charles de Gaulle.
The Musée de l’Armée is without question the main attraction in the complex. This large military museum is situated on both sides of the Cour d’Honneur and covers military history from as early as the Middle Ages up to the Second World War. It is an excellent museum that features banners, maps, all kinds of weapons and uniforms from France, but also from other countries such as India, Japan, and Turkey.
The museum is open every day of the year, except on January 1, May 1 and December 25. From April through October it is open between 10AM and 6PM and from November through March between 10AM and 5PM. Exhibits, the dome, and the galleries may have different opening times, so it is advised to check beforehand. The site of the Hôtel des Invalides is open every day from 7.30AM until 7PM. The price for a ticket is €10 ($11) for adults and a ticket includes admission to the Musée de l’Armée, the Eglise du Dôme; the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, the Musée de l’Ordre de la Libération; the Charles de Gaulle Monument, and the Tomb of Napoleon I.
How to Get ThereThe Hôtel des Invalides is easily accessed by subway. The tow nearest subway stations are La Tour-Maubourg and Varenne, which are respectively reached on the M8 and M13 lines.
Similar and Nearby LandmarksOther major museums in Paris are the Musée d’Orsay, Centre Georges Pompidou; The Louvre, and the Grand Palais. Additional landmarks in the city include the Sacre Coeur, the Champ-Elysées; Notre-Dame de Paris, and the Eiffel Tower.
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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 10, 2015