Most people know of Napoleon Bonaparte
and his conquest of Europe, but few people
know that his tomb is open to the public.
If you want to visit Napoleon’s
Tomb you have to first locate the building
that it is in, called Les Invalides. Les
Invalides is the largest group of monuments
under one roof in the city of Paris. In
Les Invalides you will find the Musée
de l'Armée, Musée des Plans-Reliefs,
Musée de l'Ordre de la Libération,
and L'Eglise de St-Louis-des-Invalides.
Les Invalides was built in by Louis XVI
(known as “The Sun King”)
to take care of veterans of France’s
wars. Before this a warrior that was wounded
in battle was condemned to a life of poverty
and begging in the streets. The building
of Les Invalids was thought a popular
move at the time, and it was funded by
a five-year levy on the salaries of soldiers
currently serving in the army. The first
stones were laid in 1671 and was completed
in 1676. Construction of the dome began
Of course no building in Paris would be
complete without mention of what happened
during the revolution (and the storming
of the Bastille). On July 14th 1789 weapons
and ammunition were taken from Les Invalides
by a rampaging mob. The mob overcame any
resistance with their numbers, and it
is reported that they collected over 28,000
rifles and blades for their cause.
Tomb of Napoleon comes much later; Napoleon
Bonaparte took the armies of France across
Europe and eventually made himself Emperor
of France and it colonies. Eventually
his armies became exhausted and he was
forced to withdraw back to France. He
was exiled to the islands of St, Helena
where he died some years later. Almost
twenty years later he was exhumed (with
the permission of the English government)
and brought back to be placed in Les Invalides
underneath the central dome.
Napoleon’s Tomb is a magnificent
dome covered with murals and fine marble.
The giant sarcophagus lies in the centre,
composed of five huge blocks of stone.
Along the walls is etched a chronicle
of Napoleon's victories that add counter-point
to the grandeur of the vault. These compliment
the works that adorn the Arc de Triomphe,
and serve to add yet another layer to
Frances long history of military endeavours.