Sometimes I feel a need to add something about places I have already posted about. This is the case with the Invalides on which I made a post some four years ago.
The history of the place is very much dominated by Louis XIV, who decided to build it, and by Napoleon who came here regularly (and was quite directly responsible for the high number of occupants during a couple of years) and has his tomb here. We can find their monograms on the impressive marble floor.
As I have still rather much to say about the place, I will make two posts, the first one concentrating on the Louis XIV part.
First something about the building as such: It was thus built under Louis XIV’s reign as a hospital and a home for aged and unwell soldiers (with space for 4.000 of them). It was finished in 1676, including a chapel for the soldiers, known as “Saint Louis des Invalides”. A "Royal Chapel", under the dome, was finished only in 1708.
Other architects were involved, but there is always a special mention for Jules-Hardouin Mansart (also very present at Versailles, creator of Place Vendôme, Place des Victoires, the SaintRoch Church… and a number of other edifices), who designed the Royal Chapel.
One amazing feature, which you can't imagine when you just look up on it, concerns the dome of the "Royal Chapel". It can be explained by a model; the upper levels of windows cannot be seen - they are just there to give light to the dome.
Another “detail”: One of the superintendents of the works was Louvois (François Michel Le Tellier de Louvois), an eminent minister of Louis XIV, who died before the end of the works (in 1691). He wanted to be buried at the Invalides, but some intrigues made that finally he wasn’t. But… somehow his presence was arranged. One of the bull’s eyes shows a wolf… and the pronunciation in French of Louvois and “loup voit”, meaning “wolf sees” is the same.
It’s normal to find the presence of Louis XIV, the “Sun King” emblem can be seen all over the place. I had the pleasure to get into one of the more prestigious rooms, with a splendid view through the windows. One version of the perhaps most well-known painting of the King (other versions at the Louvre, at Versailles…) by Hyacinthe Rigaud (1701) could be seen on one of the walls.
Some views of the "Saint Louis Chapel". I will show more from the "Royal Chapel" in a next post, as it's now where you can find Napoleon's tomb.
Under the chapel you can find (but not easy to visit) the “Caveau des Gouverneurs”. This is the place where most of the military governors of the Invalides and a number of prominent militaries are buried. … and also Rouget de Lisle, who wrote the “Marseillaise”.
There are several sun-dials around; this is perhaps the more spectacular one. I will not try to explain exactly how to read it, only that it’s split in two, one for the morning hours (from 1770) - “Sub umbra quiescent” (Under the shade they rest) and one for the afternoon hours (from 1785) – “Sub luce gaudent” (Under the light they rejoice.) Did people get up late?
There will thus be a second post, more related to Napoleon.