Les Invalides

I caught this view of the dome of the Invalides through the trees of the gardens of the Rodin Museum, which is a must-see when you’re visiting Paris.

Designed by Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the structure serves as a critical step in the development of domes in Western architecture.

The domed church was part of a larger complex which served as a retirement home for disabled veterans commissioned by Louis XIV, hence the name.

There is actually a long nave attached to the dome that is the cathedral of the armed forces of France, so I managed to score a visit to another cathedral without even trying. There is now a glass wall between the two spaces. Captured battle flags from vanquished enemies of France hang above the nave. I spotted a flag of Prussia and that one with the elephant is maybe Siam? The high altar is a very nice ripoff of Bernini’s Baldacchino from St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

Back to the dome. What is so great about it? Well, the Pantheon in Rome is special because it is a great example of Roman concrete single shell construction domes. Then the dome of Florence’s Cathedral designed by Filippo Brunelleschi is the next step, with an inner and outer shell. Hardouin-Mansart’s dome has three domes: inner and outer domes, but then a third “dome” that creates an oculus on the interior, much like the United States Capitol. The Pantheon In Rome of course has no lantern but rather an oculus that allows the rain in (I once overheard a woman tell another that the rain doesn’t fall through the oculus, apparently defying the laws of physics).

Christopher Wren’s complete rebuilding of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London utilizes another three dome structure, and was completed almost concurrently to the Invalides dome.

The façade illustrates French classicism and does not stray into the more Italian Baroque flamboyance.

Inside you are immediately assaulted with propaganda related to the cult of personality surrounding of Napoleon.

The interior of the dome is nice, but it is nowhere near as beautiful as the Pantheon or Florence Cathedral.

I found this monument to Field Marshall Ferdinand Foch to be an interesting example of early Twentieth Century sculpture.

Here’s the tomb of that loser Joseph Bonaparte below.

I find Napoleon to be a boring, uninteresting tyrant whose megalomania led to the death of untold hundreds of thousands of people. Just read some of the cheeseball histories about his life.

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