Les Invalides on the banks of the River Seine is one of the famous attractions of Paris. Often, the name "Hotel des Invalides" refers to a large cathedral with a Baroque dome. However, this is only the center of the architectural complex, which occupies 13 hectares.
The construction of the Hotel des Invalides began in 1671 by order of King Louis XIV. Residents of Paris complained that there were many former soldiers on the streets of the city who had become vagabonds and beggars. This made the streets of the city unsafe.
For several centuries, Les Invalides became a shelter for former military personnel. There could be a maximum of 4,500 people here. Their lives were conducted according to military regulations and church rules. Subsequently, it became the largest memorial and museum complex of the French Army. The entire complex of buildings still belongs to the Military Department.
Since the 18th century, various museum expositions have been created in Les Invalides, which in 1905 were merged into a single Museum of the Army. It houses one of the world`s largest collections of medieval weapons and armor. A large exhibition is dedicated to the era of the French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars. In the main courtyard of Les Invalides, you can see the largest collection of cannons in France from the 18th and 19th centuries. Large expositions are dedicated to the events of the First and Second World Wars. In 2008, the Charles de Gaulle Museum was established here.
In 1802, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte established the Legion of Honor. Napoleon personally presented the first orders to the cavaliers on the steps of Les Invalides. So it became the pantheon of the military.
In the center of the Cathedral of Les Invalides is the grave of Napoleon. In 1840, his remains were moved from St. Helena island. For more than 20 years, under the dome of the Cathedral Les Invalides, the architect Visconti created a monumental tomb where Napoleon Bonaparte was buried with military honors in 1861. His two brothers, his son, and several marshals were buried next to him. His victories are written in gold around the sarcophagus. At various times, several other famous French military people were buried here.
The Cathedral Les Invalides is the center of the entire architectural composition. A beautiful view of it opens from the Alexander III Bridge. A wide esplanade runs from the Seine embankment to the cathedral. The cathedral was built between 1677 and 1706. Its height reaches 107 meters and for almost 150 years it was the tallest building in Paris, until the Eiffel Tower was built.