Dôme des Invalides Napoleon Bonaparte

Looking down on Napoleon Bonaparte at the Domes des Invalides

The tomb of Marechal Lyautey, Marshal of France and colonial administrator

The tomb of Marechal Lyautey, Marshal of France and colonial administrator

It was monumental. Grand. And I was awestruck at the spaciousness of the interior of the Dôme des Invalides. From the paintings of Charles de la Fosse at the underside of the dome, finished in 1705, to the ornate baldachin at the altar. So grand and spacious that visitors, including me were all dwarfed. But I wasn’t here to hear mass, the space, a former royal chapel built at the southern part of the Hospital des Invalides upon the orders of Louis XIV, was converted, by an 1840 law, as the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte.

It wasn’t really in my itinerary but I decided to just take a walk around Paris from my hotel. With a map, I just followed the road. I didn’t intent to go back to the Eiffel Tower as I’ve been passing it en route to the Photoquai exhibit. It was more of an unintentional exploration, to be surprised. After stumbling at and exploring the UNESCO headquarters, I walked to the Les Invalides which, a few days before, piqued my interest when I passed by it. Of course, when at this place, I went around, visiting the Musée de l’Armée and it was after the museum visit that I arrived at the Domes.

Yeah, the Dome. That beautiful architecture said to be inspired by the one at the Vatican. It is richly painted by de la Fosse. Directly under it, at a lower level that is accessed by a flight of stairs to the crypt, lies the sarcophagus of Napoleon, made of red quartzite on a pedestal of green granite, contrasting with the white marble and 12 angels, representing the Victories, at each column. But it took 20 years for the renovations to finish. When Napoleon died in 1821, he was initially interred in Saint Helena, a remote island and a British territory where he was exiled. In 1840, his remains were returned to France, temporarily interred at the Chapelle Saint-Jérôme until his sarcophagus was finished in 1861.

I roamed around, admiring the monumentality of the space. I explored the other chambers where there are other notable French military and some of Napoleon’s family are interred too. Some are buried in vaults with only their hearts. But all these can be overwhelming: the architecture, the information, the whole experience. And that is just at one part of a series of buildings, a complex. And sometimes, it’s just better to take stock of everything and pause. I stop for a moment to lean at the edge of the central circle. Gazed up, admiring again the underbelly of the dome then slowly lowered my gaze, tracing the columns, resting my eyes on the ornate baldachin, down the steps, to the opposite side of the circle and finally looked down and laid my eyes on Napoleon’s sarcophagus. Wow.

The marvelous underside of the dome with its rich paintings by Charles de la Fosse done in 1705

The marvelous underside of the dome with its rich paintings by Charles de la Fosse done in 1705

The Dome des Invalides is actually a church that was redesigned in the 19th century to accommodate the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte

The Dome des Invalides is actually a church that was redesigned in the 19th century to accommodate the remains of Napoleon Bonaparte

Left, tomb of Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France, Allied Supreme Commander in the First World War; right, tomb of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's elder brother and King of Naples and Sicily, then King of Spain

Left, tomb of Ferdinand Foch, Marshal of France, Allied Supreme Commander in the First World War; right, tomb of Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s elder brother and King of Naples and Sicily, then King of Spain

The opening where people can look down on Napoleon Bonaparte's sarcophagus

The opening where people can look down on Napoleon Bonaparte’s sarcophagus

The sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte made from red quartzite resting on green granite finished in 1861

The sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte made from red quartzite resting on green granite finished in 1861

A flight of stairs to the underground

A flight of stairs to the underground

The frieze at the underground crypt

The frieze at the underground crypt

Roi de Rome, Napoleon Bonaparte sculpture at the underground crypt

Roi de Rome, Napoleon Bonaparte sculpture at the underground crypt

Napoleon Bonaparte's final resting place

Napoleon Bonaparte’s final resting place

Other than Napoleon Bonaparte, there are other officers and his other family members who are buried inside the Domes des Invalides. Some are buried only with their hearts.

Other than Napoleon Bonaparte, there are other officers and his other family members who are buried inside the Domes des Invalides. Some are buried only with their hearts.

Dôme des Invalides
Musée de l’Armée
129 Rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris, France
http://www.musee-armee.fr/

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

2 Comments

  1. Estan Cabigas (@EstanCabigas)
    November 3, 2016 @ 11:39

    At the Domes des Invalides visiting #napoleonbonaparte’s #sarcophagus #paris #france

    https://t.co/buEvfDpM1X https://t.co/2GrCpYsGGI

  2. Estan, Ang Langyaw (@LangyawMedia)
    November 3, 2016 @ 11:39

    At the Domes des Invalides visiting #napoleonbonaparte’s #sarcophagus #paris #france

    https://t.co/exZydI0dEo https://t.co/qrEG7uPNAL

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