About The CompoundOne of the most famous places in France is the Hôtel des Invalides. It was built at the initiative of King Louis the 14th as a hospital ("Utel des Invalides"), which was designed to provide shelter and care for his 7,000 soldiers who suffered from disabilities, old age or other defects. This was a rare and admirable act, given that at the same time governments didn't take responsibility for the damage caused to soldiers by the wars they were sent to fight in. At the time 6,000 soldiers wounded by the wars of France lived there. Many don't know that to this day there are some discharged soldiers who stay at this compound and receive dedicated treatment and care. The compound is located in the 7th district of Paris, on the left bank of the city. Today this place is used as a national museum and sometimes it is used for military purposes. In 1789 weapons were stolen from the Invalides cellars and were used to liberate Bastille in the French revolution.
In the plaza of the Invalides, the ranks of Alfred Dreyfus were revoked after he was convicted of espionage, an act that is completely anti-Semitic.. A few years later, after he was exonerated, they were returned to him here again.
The Saint Louis Chapel contains the tombs of Napoleon's brothers and of the French army ministers.
ArchitectureThe construction of the Invalid complex was completed within five years from 1671-1676. The Golden Dome, which actually belongs to the Church of San Luis, is made of six kilograms of gold. The architect used a style considered in France to be a typical style of the Jesuits (the members of the Order of Jesus) and derived the the original idea from the first Jesuit church built in Rome. However, he also used classical elements which made his style identify with Paris. There are 6 tombs under the golden dome, containing the body of Napoleon which was returned to Paris from St. Helena in 1840. In the year 1861 at an official state funeral in the Dom Church, Napoleon was buried.
What's in the Compound?The front of the compound is decorated with statues of the gods of war and wisdom - Mars and Minerva sculpted by Guillaume Coustou. On the gable (The triangle on the facade of the building), you can see another statue of Cousteau the 14th riding on his horse.
You can find 4 museums: the Museum of Contemporary History, Museum of Models, Military Museum (in which you can find the uniform, armour and other belongings of Napoleon) and the Museum of Order and Liberation. Furthermore, it contains two churches: the Church of Saint Louis des Invalides and the Church of the Dom. The compound also has some important national institutions of France: the National Assembly and government offices.
There is a promenade inside the compound, covered with lawns and trees.
What Happened Here?One of the events that took place here was in 1894, when the ranks of Alfred Dreyfus were revoked in a humiliating ceremony at the front of the main building. Dreyfus was charged with spying for Germany and after being convicted, without any connection to reality, a ceremony was held here to revoke his ranks.
Years later, after a public struggle for a retrial, after a subsequent conviction and then a pardon and an exoneration in 1906, a different ceremony was held here, in which Dreyfus's ranks were returned to him.
About the Museums in the CompoundThere are several important museums in the Invalides:
The Military Museum (Musée historique de l'Armée) - The museum that was founded in the mid 19th century began as an artillery museum. As the years past, it combined with the Military museum and today it displays historic weapons, uniforms, armor, decorations of the French army and more. The museum is spread over a huge area of about 12 thousand square meters and includes a large and impressive garden. The chronological order enables a comprehensive and profound view of the wars France took part in, using historical information, videos, pictures, paintings and hundreds of thousands of military exhibits that illustrate the nature of the period. The floors about the First and Second World Wars are fascinating and recommended.
The Museum of Models (Musée des Plans-Reliefs) - relief maps and 3D models of French cities, were designed to teach how to attack and defend cities if a war were to break. These models were built for the use of Louis the 14th so he could prepare attack and defence tactics for the army during combat. More than 100 models were built by the best engineers and architects of Paris and they were kept and preserved for hundreds of years. In the 18th century they wanted to get rid of them, but the models were preserved and moved to an area in which they are still kept today. During his reign, Napoleon ordered a few more models. The museum is open to the general public since 1943 and is a historical testimony to the appearance of France in the old days.
The Museum of Order and Liberation (Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération) - "The Order of Liberation" was founded by Charles de Gaulle in the 40's of the 20th century and he led "Free France" and the rebellion of the Nazi occupation. "The Order of Liberation" is the second most important order in France. The museum includes many exhibits from World War 2, members of the Orders weapons and historic documentation of the actions of "The Order of Liberation".