(b. 1646, Paris, d. 1708, Marly-le-Roi)

Exterior view

Church of Les Invalides, Paris

Hardouin-Mansart created the most mature structure of French Baroque. In 1676, he had taken over the direction of the Invalides hospital, begun six years previously by Libéral Bruant (c. 1635-1697); this was a royal endowment to care for retired soldiers. With the church of Les Invalides, dedicated in 1706, the combination of the nave structure of the simple soldiers' church with a central building produced a magnificent synthesis of two architectural forms, the square substructure with a portal frontage and a dominant tambour and dome.

The central structure of the complex and the decoration suggest that Louis XIV intended this as his mausoleum. However, in 1861, Visconti had a crypt built in the centre of the cathedral and Napoleon was buried there.

View the ground plan of Les Invalides, Paris.