Saturday, May 26, 2007

Les Invalides

Les Invalides started out in the late 1600's as Louis XIV's effort to seem like a good egg by building an old soldiers' home for all the guys he was sending off to war who were lucky enough not to get killed but unlucky enough to be crippled. He made arrangements to pay for it by taxing his current soldier salaries--so much for generosity! He had the top architects of his era work on the design. The "Hotel" for the soldiers came first (Liberal Bruant), Louie then told Hardouin Mansart to throw up a little something that matched the glory of his (remember he's the modest one who referred to himself as "the Sun King") reign. In 1706 Mansart added the Church of the Golden Dome so the Sun King would have a roof over his head when worshiping with his soldiers (although they had to sit in a separate attached chapel). In 1840 the French turned the church into a tomb for Napoleon. It is quite beautiful inside, a very inspiring space. Part of the complex is still used as a residence for old soldiers, but much of the space is used for military museum exhibits on all eras of French history--quite interesting and well designed displays.

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