Napoleon Bonaparte I and the Tomb of Napoleon at Les Invalides in Paris

Les Invalides is a fascinating tourist attraction in Paris with many museums, fantastic architecture, amazing history and others to keep you entertained but one of the things you can also visit is the famous Tomb of Napoleon.

A bit of history on the well known emperor can help give an insight to the past history and what happened before we move onto the crypt or the tomb of Napoleon.

Napoleon Bonaparte I was from the island, Corsica, born in 1769 he was educated in military school and soon made his way through the ranks until he was commander of the French army in Italy, where he forced Austria and their allies to make peace.

Some years later a new threat loomed when Russia and Austria allied with Britain and Bonaparte returned to Paris as the government were in a crisis.

The year 1800 Napoleon Bonaparte I defeated the Austrians and negotiated a peace treaty, making France have the controlling power over Europe.. Thanks to that victory he was made a Consul for life and saw the making of the Bank of France, centralisation of the government and re-instatement of the Catholic religion.

But in only 1803 Britain had continued war against France, in 1804 Napoleon was made Emperor and rather than attempting to invade England after a defeat at Trafalgar in 1805 he focused on Russia and Austria and became victorious after the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, which again gained control of Europe.

After that same victory is when he decided that a triumphal arch should be created so that his armies could march on their way home to Paris. Said arch is now the well known Arc de Triomphe and is now found at the Place Charles-de-Gaulle, which is one of the squares in Paris that was originally known as the Place Etoile. Yet he also had the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel constructed, which is located by the Tuileries Gardens of the Musee du Louvre.

The Holy Roman Empire dissolved and over the course of the next few years Napoleon placed family members and loyalists as leaders of other countries such as Spain, Holland and Italy. Yet when the Peninsular War began in 1808 it had a massive impact on France, draining their resources rather dramatically.

In 1814 Paris itself fell and Bonaparte went into exile on an Island in the Mediterranean. Although he did manage to escape, he quickly marched on Paris, the Battle of Waterloo ended his second but short reign and he became imprisoned on an Atlantic island by the British.

But it was on this remote island, St Helena, that he died in 1821, May 5th, and was buried a few days later on the estate of Mr Richard Torbett close to a spring. And even if his request to be buried along the river banks of the River Seine to be amongst his people, this never happened.

In fact it was almost over twenty years and it took seven years of negotiations from King Louis Philippe and the British government in order to bring Napoleons remains back so he could eventually rest in peace.

In 1840 King Louis Philippe chose Louis Visconti, an Italian born French architect to create a tomb that would accommodate the remains and be placed within the Eglise du Dome in Les Invalides.

It took just under six months for the full trip to be taken and for the coffin to be returned to Paris, but shortly after on the 15th December the state funeral was held in Paris. During the procession, Napoleons coffin briefly rested under the Arc de Triomphe, which is another tourist attractions in Paris but was ordered to be built by him, even though he never saw it completed.

From there the coffin and procession headed down the famous Champs Elysees Avenue, across the River Seine and eventually to the park to Les Invalides.

The Tomb of Napoleon itself is found within a circular crypt in the Eglise du Dome which had to go under major reconstructions and transformations for it to seem fit for the visions of the architect Cisconti. With a gallery which surrounds the tomb, depicting Napoleons civil achievements which were all created by the sculptor Pierre-Charles Simart.

The body of the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte rests within five coffins, which are made of tin, mahogany, lead, another lead and finally ebony all held within a sarcophagus which is found in the middle of the crypt.

The sarcophagus is made from red quartzite from Russia and is placed on a green granite base that came from the Alsace region of France in the Vosges mountains, circled by laurels and inscriptions.

There are also various sculptures to show the military victories of Napoleon places around the tomb of Napoleon which were made by Jean-Jacques Pradier as well as inscriptions on the polychrome marble floor to state eight famous victories.

At the side of the crypt there is a small chamber with a statue of Napoleon in his coronation robes and beneath that statue lays the remains of Napoleon II, who was his only legitimate son and was also known as The Eaglet.

For this reason a visit to Les Invalides is a great experience to see and appreciate the incredible architecture and history behind the Tomb of Napoleon but also the other things within Les Invalides which includes three museums in Paris such as the impressive Musee de l’Armee and much more while you are on holiday in Paris.

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