Arc de Triomphe - History and Facts | History Hit

Arc de Triomphe

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

The Arc de Triomphe is an iconic Parisian landmark built in the 19th century to commemorate those who fought for France.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Arc de Triomphe

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.

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