Les Invalides and the Dome Church
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Les Invalides, the Dome Church

Napoleon’s final wish was to have his ashes rest by the banks of the Seine – this spot isn’t too far off and it is certainly an impressive burial place.

The Dome Church was originally meant for Royal tombs, that idea was abandoned in 1840 when it was decided to install Napoleon’s remains in the crypt. Since then, with a number of other important military figures buried there, it has become a military memorial.

In this vain, there is also a military museum and hospital on the site.  You cpuld spend more than two hours looking around this extensive area. 

Les Invalides

Napoleon’s casket lies in the crypt of the church, directly under the dome. You can see it from above or you can walk down to view the casket at eye level. 

It is placed in the centre of the round crypt, surrounded by twelve stone angels. The tomb sits on a granite floor where the names of Napoleon’s battles are written in the mosaic.

I found the whole presentation very impressive. 

The Twelve Stone Angels of Napoleon

The winged statues are mounted against the pillars of the crypt. Cloaked in draping clothing, all appear to have a shocked, unbelieving look on their faces. Many suggest the angels serve as guardians for Napoleon’s grave, while others believe they helped guide him to the heavens.

The life-sized white marble figures were actually designed to symbolize the general’s military achievements. The “Victories” are the final work of French sculptor Jean Jacques Pradier, who is renowned for his neoclassical works found at the Triomphe Arc de Triumph and the Louvre. (Pradier was laid to rest at Paris’ famous Père Lachaise cemetery).

Les Invalides
Napoleon's casket viewed from above - you can see the angel statues that surround it.

Make sure you also look through the church that is attached to the building, and also wander around the huge coblestoned courtyard and the military museum.

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