Les Invalides, officially known as L’Hôtel National des Invalides, is a complex of buildings in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, containing museums and monuments, all relating to the military history of France, as well as a hospital and a retirement home for war veterans, the building’s original purpose.
The buildings house the Musée de l’Armée, the military museum of the Army of France, the Musée des Plans-Reliefs, and the Musée d’Histoire Contemporaine, as well as the burial site for some of France’s war heroes, notably Napoleon Bonaparte. Louis XIV initiated the project by an order dated 24 November 1670, as a home and hospital for aged and unwell soldiers: the name is a shortened form of hôpital des invalides. The architect of Les Invalides was Libéral Bruant.
On the north front of Les Invalides Hardouin-Mansart’s chapel dome is large enough to dominate the long façade, yet harmonizes with Bruant’s door under an arched pediment. To the north, the courtyard is extended by a wide public esplanade (Esplanade des Invalides) where the embassies of Austria and Finland are neighbours of the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, all forming one of the grand open spaces in the heart of Paris. At its far end, the Pont Alexandre III links this grand urbanistic axis with the Petit Palais and the Grand Palais. The Pont des Invalides is next, downstream the Seine river. The Hôpital des Invalides spurred William III of England to emulation, in the military Greenwich Hospital of 1694.
Photo Credit: Mikael