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The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is a 162 foot monumental arch in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle. It was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, shortly following his victory at Austerlitz, with the aim of commemorating French soldiers, particularly those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars.
Arc de Triomphe history
The Arc de Triomphe was built on Napoleon’s demand after the famous Battle of Austerlitz (1805), considered as his most famous military “masterpiece”.
The purpose of the Arch was to perpetuate the memory of the victories of the French army. The first stone was laid on August 15 of 1806, and the monument finished 30 years later, in 1836. The Arch is an imposing and ornate structure. Its many engravings include the dates of military victories, the names of important soldiers and depictions of war.
Before the expansion of Paris in 1860, the land on which was built the monument was on the border of the city, and had privileged access to the residence of the Emperor, the Tuileries Palace, located at the end of Champs Elysées. In addition to being a memorial, the Arc de Triomphe was also a showy gate erected to welcome Napoleon and his troops back from battles.
Arc de Triomphe today
Visitors can climb to its peak for magnificent views or enter the small museum inside it, both of which are included in the entrance fee. A further attraction at the Arc de Triomphe is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which commemorates those who fought in the two World Wars with an eternal flame.
Among the various decorations adorning the Arc de Triomphe. Do not miss Le Départ des Volontaires en 1792, also known as la Marseillaise, representing the French people in their diversity (revolutionary, royalist and Bonapartist) going together to battle. A republican french icon, built under King Louis Philippe in 1833.
Do not miss The attic either at the top of the arch, with 30 shields on which are engraved the names of the great battles of the Revolution and the Empire. Battles you will also see on the large arcades.
Finally, note that 2 times a year, the sun sets in the exact center of the arch, phenomenon you can enjoy from the Champs-Elysées. This breathtaking sight occurs in May and August. It is recommended one visits after 6:30 p.m., when the flame of the unknown soldier is lit and the Champs-Elysées is bathed in shimmering lights. From the observation deck at the top of the arch, breathtaking views of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacré Coeur, and the Louvre are also in store.
Getting to Arc de Triomphe
The celebrated arch is located at the west end of the Avenue des Champs-Elysées, on the Place Charles de Gaulle (often also referred to as the Place de l’Etoile).If travelling via metro, the closest station is Charles de Gaulle Etoile which can be accessed via Line 1, 2 or 6.
Discover the history and importance of the Arc de Triomphe
When it comes to iconic landmarks and attractions, there isn’t a city in the world that can match Paris – or so they say. With the French capital being home to an amazing array of monumental sites such as the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and many others, the history of France is written into the architecture of this great city. If you want to learn the full story then there’s only one place to start the Arc de Triomphe.
As well as being the focal point of Paris’s famous sightseeing route – known as the Axe Historique – the landmark is also a universal symbol of the glory and despair of military combat.
As 2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War, there’s never been a more poignant time to visit the Arc de Triomphe and more importantly, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which can be found beneath the landmark.
History of the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile
As a strong supporter of public works, Napoleon ordered numerous construction projects throughout the French Empire. After his victory over the Third Coalition at Austerlitz in 1805, to commemorate his victories he commissioned three public works: the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, the Vendôme Column, and the Arc de Triomphe. The largest of these structures, the Arc de Triomphe, was intended to honor the military leaders and victories of the French Revolution, Consulate, and Empire.
In 1806, the architect Jean François Thérèse Chalgrin was hired to analyze the best possible location and based on this study Napoleon selected the Place de l'Étoile. The first stone was symbolically laid that year on Napoleon's birthday, August 15th. In 1808 Chalgrin became the sole architect and in 1810 he finished revising the plans which became the framework for completing the structure over the next 26 years. That same year the people of Paris received a preliminary view of the monument as a full-sized wooden replica was built on site for the marriage between Napoleon and the Archduchess Marie Louise of Austria. Chalgrin died the next year and his pupil Louis Robert Goust became the new architect, continuing the work.
With Napoleon's abdication in 1814, all work on the Arc de Triomphe was halted even though more than a third had already been constructed. Almost ten years passed without any further work and then the French army, led by the king's nephew the Duke of Angoulême, successfully intervened militarily in Spain. King Louis XVIII ordered work on the Arc de Triomphe to resume but changed the intent to honor his nephew and his army's success in Spain. The architect Jean Nicolas Huyot was selected to lead the work, but controversy plagued the project and little progress was made.
With the July Revolution of 1830 and the ascent of the Citizen King Louis Philippe, the political atmosphere became friendly towards honoring the Revolution and Empire. Louis Philippe ordered the Arc de Triomphe to be completed and honor the Revolutionary and Imperial armies, leaders, and victories. Louis Philippe also fired Huyot as architect in 1832 and replaced him with Guillaume Abel Blouet. In 1833 the Minister of the Interior Adolphe Thiers led the selection of the sculptors to complete the four major sculptures on the lower exterior of the pillars.
The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 by François Rude
The Triumph of 1810 by Jean Pierre Cortot
The Resistance of 1814 by Antoine Etex
The Peace of 1815 by Antoine Etex
Meanwhile, the Ministry of War was tasked to create a list of names of officers and battles to be engraved on the monument, and Baron General Saint-Cyr Nugues was chosen to determine the names. As the monument neared completion, Saint-Cyr Nugues submitted 384 notable officers, 30 great victories, and 96 lesser battles. The Arc de Triomphe was finally inaugurated in 1836 but not without controversy. When Saint-Cyr Nugues' lists were released to the public, many families of notable generals of the Revolution or Empire complained to the Ministry of War and Ministry of Public Works that their illustrious family member was not included.
For the next few years, a stalemate ensued between the Ministry of Public Works and Ministry of War over whether or not more names could be added. Finally the Ministry of Public Works informed the Minister of War Marshal Soult that they had found room for 128 more names. Now able to resolve the complaints, Soult formed a commission to add more names to be honored. Marshal Oudinot presided over the commission made up of Generals Reille, Dode de la Brunerie, Petit, Pelet-Clozeau, and Schneider with the secretary being Saint-Mars. Marshal Soult then realized that not all arms were appropriately represented and added to the commission General Exelmans to represent the cavalry, General Neigre to represent the artillery, and Admiral Rosamel to represent the navy.
The commission began its work on December 5th, 1840, and ten days later the Arc de Triomphe witnessed the return of Napoleon's remains to Paris. Over 400,000 people attended a ceremony where Napoleon's coffin was placed in a chariot drawn by twelve black horses decorated in gold. The procession stopped directly underneath the arch before eventually laying Napoleon's remains to rest in Les Invalides.
Over the next few months the commission decided upon a series of names to add to the monument but went beyond the initial limits of 128, instead submitting 233 names. A new battle between the Ministry of War and Ministry of Public Works followed over the number of names that could be added. The Ministry of War eventually won when the architect Blouet found space to add more names while retaining the architectural integrity of the monument. By the end of 1842 there were now 652 names inscribed. Over the next five decades more names were added, with the last being added in 1895, bringing the total to 660. For more information on the 660 names that were engraved, please see the article "Names on the Arc de Triomphe". For the battles, eventually 158 battles were selected where 30 are considered great victories. For the list of the battles that were engraved, please see the article "Battles on the Arc de Triomphe".
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
During World War I, discussions began about entombing an unidentified soldier in the Pantheon to commemorate those who died for France and were never identified. After the war the discussions progressed and a letter writing campaign eventually convinced the government that the tomb should reside underneath the Arc de Triomphe. An unidentified soldier was laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the arch in 1921. The inscription reads "Ici repose un soldat Français mort pour la patrie", which translates to English as, "Here lies a French soldier who died for his country". Two years later, a Memorial Flame was installed and lit on Armistice Day. The flame has never been extinguished and is rekindled every evening at 18:30.
Arc de Triomphe - History
The Place du Carrousel, located near where the Palais des Tuileries once stood, can be an overwhelming experience for those visiting today. Vendors on all sides sell Eiffel Tower trinkets, bottles of water, and the priceless experience of being swarmed by dozens of pigeons. However, the immense, beautiful architecture of the Louvre all around can easily distract from a seemingly unassuming monument in the center. At first glance, it seems like a miniature of the Arc de Triomphe – the massive monument erected at the end of the Champs-Elysees during Napoleon’s reign – but it’s instead the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, and it’s quite different.
Though both monuments were erected during the First Empire, and both celebrate Napoleon’s military victories, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel was constructed first and praises specific military victories of the early 1800’s. Designed by the architects Charles Percier and Pierre François Fontaine, the arch is 63 feet high and covered with historically significant sculpture (“Arc de Triomphe Du Carrousel”). It is part of the “Grand Axis” of Paris, lining up with the Grande Arch de la Defense, the Arc de Triomphe at l’Etoile, the Obélisque de Luxor in the Place de la Concorde, and the Louvre (Phillips).
This arch was directly inspired by the victory arches of the Roman Empire, and ties Napoleon’s empire to the Romans in a number of ways beyond this. On the top of the arch, while facing Concorde, one can see the arms of the French Empire on the left and the arms of the Kingdom of Italy on the right (“Arc de Triomphe Du Carrousel”). This deliberate duality between the two attempts to forge an integral bond between the French Empire and the Roman Empire, as Napoleon’s exploits had recently delved deep into Italy. Additionally, the pink columns of the structure are marble (another symbol of antiquity), and are in the Corinthian style, an allusion to the ancient city-state of Greece. All of these ties to classical Europe seek to mold Napoleon’s victories – what was then very recent history – into a continuation of the legacy of Rome, showering the French Empire in prestige.
On top of the arch rest four bronze horses, the Horses of St. Mark stolen from Venice and only returned after World War II – a symbol of the pillaging and theft that allowed Napoleon’s regime to prosper in the wake of conquering the continent (Phillips). Other symbols of this conquest adorn the arch elsewhere, depicting Napoleon’s military and diplomatic victories such as the Peace of Pressburg, the surrender of Ulm, and the Tilsit Conference, as well as his entrance into Vienna (“Arc de Triomphe Du Carrousel”). These depictions further attempt to cement his triumphs into a legacy literally carved in stone, and prematurely ascribe historical significance to what were recent events as a form of early propaganda.
L'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Facing West
The smaller Arc de Triomphe, facing westward. You can see the arms of the French Empire on the left and the arms of the Kingdom of Italy on the right. | Creator: Emma Coleman View File Details Page
L'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Facing East
The arch again, facing eastward toward the Louvre. You can see four Corinthian-style marble columns, harking back to ancient Greece | Creator: Emma Coleman View File Details Page
The arch and the Louvre
Another view of the arch, with the Louvre in the background. You can see the sheer crowds around the Place du Carrousel. | Creator: Emma Coleman View File Details Page
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
This post-war photograph by Wayne Andrews of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel depicts the monument as we know it today. It is surrounded by wide, open spaces that are typically occupied by pedestrians, as well as by green trees and gardens. | Source: This image is derived from Artstor at http://library.artstor.org/#/asset/AWAYNEIG_10311326392. | Creator: Wayne Andrews View File Details Page
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
This stereograph of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel from the late 1800s depicts the monument as it was when it was originally built. In the background of the image, the Palais des Tuileries is visible, although the palace does not exist today. In the foreground of the image, fences and gaurds can be seen. The monument may have once served as a gateway to the palace. | Source: This image is derived from Artstor at http://library.artstor.org/#/asset/AWSS35953_35953_23280168. | Creator: Anonymous View File Details Page
Ambient Sound Around l'Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
An audio file that allows you to experience the vendors and graveled hustle and bustle surrounding the arch near the Louvre. | Creator: Win Gustin View File Details Page
Arc de Triomphe Architecture
Conceptualized by architect Jean Chalgrin, and inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus, the Arc de Triomphe Paris features Neoclassical elements of Roman architecture. The 162 feet tall and 150 feet wide arch saw its first stone laid in 1806 after Napoleon I agreed to build the arch at Place de l’Etoile. A team of experts and architects joined hands with Jean Chalgrin to prepare the construction plan for the monument. In 1811, Jean Chalgrin passed away, and Louis-Robert Goust, a former student of Chalgrin, took over. In the following years, construction was halted due to the imperial defeat and invasion but resumed in 1824 under the watch of architect Jean-Nicolas Huyot. He proposed huge changes to the original design, which were deemed risky, and in 1832 he was replaced by architect Guillaume-Abel Blouet, who saw the completion of the monument in 1836 under French King Louis-Phillipe.
The splendour of the monument is enhanced by the sculptures on its pillars. The four main sculptural groups on each pillar of the arch are:
- Le Départ de 1792 by François Rude. The sculpture celebrates the cause of the First French Republic during the 10 August Uprising of 1792.
- Le Triomphe de 1810 by Jean-Pierre Cortot. It celebrates the Treaty of Schonbrunn.
- La Résistance de 1814 by Antoine Étex. It remembers the French Resistance to the allied armies during the War of the Sixth Coalition.
- La Paix de 1815 by Antoine Étex, which commemorates the Treaty of Paris.
Among others, there are six reliefs sculpted on the facades of the arch representing important moments from the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Era.
The Arc de Triomphe is a delight for visitors, as one can get a panoramic view of the city of Paris from its rooftop. The awe-striking view includes popular monuments and structures in the city of Paris like Centre Pompidou, Notre Dame, and Grand Palais, among others.
Despite delays in construction, the Arc de Triomphe became an immediate point of pride among the French people and a constant reminder of the military greatness enjoyed, if only briefly, by Napoleon I and his cadre of commanders. Napoleon I ordered the Arc de Triomphe's construction after his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, but it wasn't completed until 1836. Later, after World War I, the French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was entombed under the Arc de Triomphe. Often imitated, notably by Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico and The Arch of Triumph in North Korea, it remains uniquely French, despite its own unabashed history as an imitation of early Roman work.
The avenue runs for 1.91 km (1.19 mi) through the 8th arrondissement in northwestern Paris, from the Place de la Concorde in the east, with the Obelisk of Luxor,  to the Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly the Place de l'Étoile) in the west, location of the Arc de Triomphe. The Champs-Élysées forms part of the Axe historique.
The lower part of the Champs-Élysées, from the Place de la Concorde to the Rond-Point, runs through the Jardin des Champs-Élysées, a park which contains the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, the Théâtre Marigny, and several restaurants, gardens and monuments. The Élysée Palace—official residence of the President of the French Republic—borders the park, but is not on the Avenue itself. The Champs-Élysées ends at the Arc de Triomphe, built to honour the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The historical axis, looking west from Place de la Concorde (the Obelisk of Luxor is in the foreground).
The Champs-Elysées seen from the Arc de Triomphe.
View at pedestrian level as seen from the middle of the avenue looking west.
View of the Champs-Élysées by night.
Until the reign of Louis XIV, the land where the Champs-Élysées runs today was largely occupied by fields and kitchen gardens. The Champs-Élysées and its gardens were originally laid out in 1667 by André Le Nôtre as an extension of the Tuileries Garden, the gardens of the Tuileries Palace, which had been built in 1564, and which Le Nôtre had rebuilt in his own formal style for Louis XIV in 1664. Le Nôtre planned a wide promenade between the palace and the modern Rond Point, lined with two rows of elm trees on either side, and flowerbeds in the symmetrical style of the French formal garden.  The new boulevard was called the "Grand Cours", or "Grand Promenade". It did not take the name of Champs-Élysées until 1709.
In 1710 the avenue was extended beyond the Rond-Pont as far as the modern Place d'Étoile. In 1765 the garden was remade in the Le Nôtre style by Abel François Poisson, the marquis de Marigny, brother of the Madame de Pompadour and Director-General of the King's Buildings. Marigny extended the avenue again in 1774 as far as the modern Porte Maillot.
In 1846, Prince Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte, the future Napoléon III, Emperor of the French, lived for a brief period in lodgings just off Lord Street, Southport. It is claimed the street is the inspiration behind the Champs-Élysées. Between 1854 and 1870, Napoléon III orchestrated the reconstruction of the French capital. The medieval centre of the city was demolished and replaced with broad tree-lined boulevards, covered walkways and arcades.
By the late 18th century, the Champs-Élysées had become a fashionable avenue the trees on either side had grown enough to form rectangular groves (cabinets de verdure). The gardens of the town houses of the nobility built along the Faubourg Saint-Honoré backed onto the formal gardens. The grandest of the private mansions near the Avenue was the Élysée Palace, a private residence of the nobility which during the Third French Republic became the official residence of the Presidents of France.
Following the French Revolution, two equestrian statues, made in 1745 by Nicolas and Guillaume Coustou, were transferred from the former royal palace at Marly and placed at the beginning of the boulevard and park. After the downfall of Napoleon and the restoration of the French monarchy, the trees had to be replanted, because the occupation armies of the Russians, British and Prussians during the Hundred Days had camped in the park and used the trees for firewood. 
The avenue from the Rond-Point to the Étoile was built up during the Empire. The Champs-Élysées itself became city property in 1828, and footpaths, fountains, and, later, gas lighting were added.
In 1834, under King Louis Philippe, the architect Mariano Ruiz de Chavez was commissioned to redesign the Place de la Concorde and the gardens of the Champs-Élysées. He kept the formal gardens and flowerbeds essentially intact, but turned the garden into a sort of outdoor amusement park, with a summer garden café, the Alcazar d'eté, two restaurants, the Ledoyen and the restaurant de l'Horloge a theater, the Lacaze the Panorama, built in 1839, where large historical paintings were displayed, and the cirque d'eté (1841), a large hall for popular theater, musical and circus performances. He also placed several ornamental fountains around the park, of which three are still in place.
The major monument of the Boulevard, the Arc de Triomphe, had been commissioned by Napoleon after his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz, but it was not finished when he fell from power in 1815. The monument remained unfinished until 1833-36, when it was completed by King Louis Philippe.
In 1855 Emperor Napoleon III selected the park at the beginning of the avenue as the site of the first great international exposition to be held in Paris, the Exposition Universelle. The park was the location of the Palace of Industry, a giant exhibit hall which covered thirty thousand square meters, where the Grand Palais is today. In 1858, following the Exposition, the Emperor's prefect of the Seine, Georges-Eugène Haussmann, had the gardens transformed from a formal French garden into a picturesque English style garden, based on a small town called Southport, with groves of trees, flowerbeds and winding paths. The rows of elm trees, which were in poor health, were replaced by rows of chestnut trees.
The park served again as an exposition site during the Universal Exposition of 1900 it became the home of the Grand Palais and Petit Palais. It also became the home of a new panorama theater, designed by Gabriel Davioud, the chief architect of Napoleon III, in 1858. The modern theater Marigny was built by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera, in 1883. 
Throughout its history, the avenue has been the site of military parades the most famous were the victory parades of German troops in 1871 and again in 1940 celebrating the Fall of France on 14 July 1940, and the three most joyous were the parades celebrating the Allied victory in the First World War in 1919, and the parades of Free French and American forces after the liberation of the city, respectively, the French 2nd Armored Division on 25 August 1944, and the U.S. 28th Infantry Division on 29 August 1944.
A view of Champs-Élysées in the 1860s, looking from the Rond-Point toward the Place de la Concorde
A colourised aerial photograph of the southern side (published in 1921)
Free French forces on parade after the liberation of Paris (1944)
Arc de Triomphe. Postcard, c.1920
The Arc is located on the right bank of the Seine at the centre of a dodecagonal configuration of twelve radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, between 1833 and 1836, by the architects Goust, then Huyot, under the direction of Héricart de Thury. On 15 December 1840, brought back to France from Saint Helena, Napoleon's remains passed under it on their way to the Emperor's final resting place at the Invalides. Β] Prior to burial in the Panthéon, the body of Victor Hugo was displayed under the Arc during the night of 22 May 1885.
The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations. Γ] On 7 August 1919, Charles Godefroy successfully flew his biplane under the Arc. Δ] Jean Navarre was the pilot who was tasked to make the flight, but he died on 10 July 1919 when he crashed near Villacoublay while training for the flight.
Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 Ε] and 1945. A United States postage stamp of 1945 shows the Arc de Triomphe in the background as victorious American troops march down the Champs-Élysées and U.S. airplanes fly overhead on 29 August 1944. After the interment of the Unknown Soldier, however, all military parades (including the aforementioned post-1919) have avoided marching through the actual arch. The route taken is up to the arch and then around its side, out of respect for the tomb and its symbolism. Both Hitler in 1940 and de Gaulle in 1944 observed this custom.
By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 it was cleaned through bleaching.
In the prolongation of the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, a new arch, the Grande Arche de la Défense, was built in 1982, completing the line of monuments that forms Paris's Axe historique. After the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, the Grande Arche is the third arch built on the same perspective.
In 1995, the Armed Islamic Group of Algeria placed a bomb near the Arc de Triomphe which wounded 17 people as part of a campaign of bombings. Ζ]
Some Interesting Facts, Infomation About Arc De Triomphe
- There is four support on each of its pillars.
- That four support pillar represents the values and virtues of the French armed forces: “Triumph”, “Peace”, “Resistance” and “the Departure of the Volunteers”.
- On the inner walls of pillars, you can find engraved the names of the battles won by Napoleon and those of the soldiers who fought for France.
- At the foot of the monument, there is a Grave of Unknown Soldiers, which was added in honor of the memory of those who died in the First World War, particularly those whose bodies were never identified and who went missing. In their honor, a type of candlelight was lit and it’s never supposed to be put out.
- The Arc de Triomphe was incomplete until 1836, 15 years after Napoleon’s death, therefore, he never had the chance to see the final product. When he married his second wife “Marie Louise of Austria”, he had a wooden replica of the Arc so the two of them could pass through it as they entered Paris as a married couple.
Cleaning this Landmark is not so easy task. It was fully cleaned in 2011, which was its first cleaning in almost 50 years.
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Arc de Triomphe paintings
The Arc de Triomphe is often painted in the perspective of the Champs-Elysées. Although none of the many famous painters who lived in Paris painted the Arc de Triomphe, there are a few lovely paintings of it.
Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées