Planned by Henry IV., and begun by Louis XIV. in 1671, as a refuge for old soldiers, who, before it was built, had to beg their bread in the streets.
The Tombeau Napoleon, under the magnificent dome of the Invalides, which was added to the original church by Jules Hardouin Mansart and is treated as a separate building, is enter from the place Vauban at the back .
On entering the vast interior, a huge circular space is seen to open, beneath the cuppola painted by Charries de Lafosse and Juvenet, and, in it, surrounded by caryatides and groups opf mouldering banners, the huge tomb of Finland Granite, given by the Emperor Nicolas. Hither, the remains of the great Emperor were brought back from Saint-Helena by the Prince de Joinville, in 1841.
The transept contains the tomb of Turenne by Tuby from designs of Lebrun. It represent the hero expiring (at the battle of Salzbach July 27, 1675) in the arms of immortality.
The sentiment, the tomb, and the dome have a unique splendour. A white marble statue of Napoleon I. by Stuart is in a black marble chapel. His Austerlitz sword, the crown voted by Cherbourg, and colors taken in his different battles, were formerly shown in a Chapelle Ardente.
On the terrace in front of the building are a number of cannons, trophies taken in different campaigns. Standing before the hotel is the statue of Prince Eugene. On either side of the entrance are statues of Mars and Minerva by Coustou Jeune.
In the tympanum of the semicircle over the center of the facade is Louis XIV. on horseback. Behind the facade, a vast courtyard is surrounded by open corridors lined with frescoes of the history of France; those of early history on the left, by Benedict Masson, 1865, have much interest. In the center of the inner facade is a statue of Napoleon I. Beneath this is the approach to the Church of Saint Louis, built 1671-1679 from design of Liberal Bruant. Against the walls are monuments to marshals or governors of the invalids – the Duc de Coigny, Duc de Conegliano (Moncey), Duc de Reggio (Oudinot), Marshal Jourdan, Duc de Malakoff (Pelissier).