Les Invalides

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The Invalides (Hôtel National des Invalides) belongs to the significant Paris monuments. It is built on the left bank of Seine River and it can be easily reached from Champs-Elysées across the Alexandre III Bridge and the Esplanade des Invalides.

It was built under Louis XIV. The plans were drawn by Libéral Bruant. The construction started in 1670 and was finished six years later, in 1676. The church of St. Louis des Invalides was made by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, as well as the golden dome on the top of the church that was built later and it became the symbol of the splendour of the King the Sun. Actually, it was finished by Robert de Cotte in 1708after Mansart death. De Cotte became also the architect of the Esplanade des Invalides that leads to the church. The decoration of the church created stolen enemy’s flags hung on the walls. The church itself covers the area of 13 hectares and together with the dome are considered to be the masterpieces of French classical architecture. All complex was funded by a five year levy on the salaries of soldiers serving in the army at that time.

Originally, it was deigned to be the military hospital, the aid to old soldiers who had been forced to either beg or subside on church charity, so it quickly became home to a number of wounded soldiers. On the 14th July 1789, 28 000 weapons carried here were stolen by crowd that used them in an attack on the Bastille.

However, the main event was the return of Napoleon Bonaparte’s dead body to France. After seven years in Britain his remains were exhumed from St. Helena and brought to France. On the 15th December 1840 the Invalides received the Napoleon Bonaparte’s remains and they were placed to the cupola in St Jerome’s Chapel, until the tomb, designed by Visconti, was finished. On 3 April 1861 Napoleon I came to his final rest in the crypt under de dome. Mainly this fact made it quite famous with tourists.

Nowadays, Les Invalides comprises the largest single complex of monuments in Paris. There are Musée de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs, Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération and L'Eglise de St-Louis-des-Invalides located there.
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