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  • Welcome to the Arc de Triomphe; one of Paris and France's most famous monuments. The Arc

  • is located in the middle of Place de Gaulle, the large circular square and the biggest

  • traffic center in Paris. The place, previously known as "Place de l'Etoile", is also called

  • "the Star Square", due to the fact that no less than twelve streets emanates from it.

  • Standing at the end of Champs-Elysées, the Arc is said to link the old Paris and the

  • new Paris, as it is situated between the Louvre on one side, and the financial district with

  • its skyscrapers on the other side. So why was the Arc de Triomphe built in the

  • first place? Not surprisingly, it was built in order to honor military victories. It was

  • commissioned by Emperor Napoleon after his decisive victory of the Russo-Austrian army

  • in the battle of Austerlitz in 1806. As this was during the peak of his fortunes, Napoleon

  • wanted something to honor, not only the victory at Austerlitz, but also his previous victories.

  • The construction of the Arc began quickly, but the construction process proved to be

  • a long one. Laying the foundations alone took two years. Napoleon never got to see the Arc

  • finished, due to his defeat in the battle of Waterloo 1815. After Napoleon lost the

  • battle, he was forced to surrender his throne, and the victorious Coalition force which defeated

  • him installed Louis XVIII in his place. The new king had Napoleon exiled and the construction

  • of the Arc stopped. The construction later began again in 1833 during the reign of Louis-Philippe

  • and was completed 1836. The result is what you can see today; a near 50m high and 45m

  • wide masterpiece. It is one of the largest Arc of Triumph in the world, placing second,

  • only beaten by the Arc in Pyongyang, North Korea.

  • The monument was designed by the French architect Jean Chalgrin in 1806. Chalgrin later died

  • in 1811, and during the construction process a number of other architects carried out his

  • work. The design of the Arc is inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus, located in Rome,

  • but in a more Neo-classical style. As you can see, the Arc is stacked with wonderful

  • reliefs and sculptures. If you take a look on the outside of the arc,

  • above the large vault, you will see the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers which pictures

  • scenes from various battles. Among them are Napoleons victory over the Turkish in the

  • battle of Aboukir and when Napoleon defeated the Austrians during the Battle of Austerliz.

  • Above this, you can see a row of shields. These shields honor the major Revolutionary

  • and Napoleonic military victories, as each one of the 30 shields carries the name of

  • a specific battle. If you later take a look at the inside walls of the Arc, you will see

  • a long list of names. This list is the names of French generals. If you look closely, you

  • will see that some of the names are underlined. This indicates that the general died in battle.

  • Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of

  • the major battles of the Napoleonic Wars. The most prominent feature of the Arc is however

  • the large statues which rests at the base of the columns. If you're looking from Champs-Elysées,

  • you will have the most famous one on the right side; "Departure of the Volunteers of '92"

  • commonly called "La Marseillaise". This sculpture was made by François Rude and depicts the

  • French people rallying against enemies from abroad. The citizens, who you can see is it

  • both nude and in classical armor, are united under the Roman goddess of war, Bellona.

  • One the left side you can see "The Triumph", made by Jean-Pierre Cortot. In the middle

  • you will see Napoleon, as he just conquered another town who surrenders at his feet. You

  • will also see the Roman goddess of victory, Victoria, crowning Napoleon with a crown of

  • wreath. In the back you can also see a historian, inscribing his new conquering into a stone

  • tablet. On the opposite side of "The Triumph", that

  • is the side of the Arc looking away from Champs-Elysées, you will find "Resistance". This sculpture

  • shows a naked soldier defending his family, urged on by the Roman goddess of future, Antevorte.

  • The last sculpture of the four is called "Peace". It shows a man show puts his sword back into

  • his scabbard, under the protection of Minerva, the Roman warrior goddess. Behind the man

  • you can see the peasants going back to their ordinary daily work. Since the fall of Napoleon

  • in 1815, this sculpture has been interpreted as a celebration of the peace that followed

  • his defeat. Beneath the Arc you will also find an interesting

  • grave. This grave provides the final rest for one of the many unidentified soldiers

  • who died during the First World War. It is known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

  • On the grave a flame burns in memory of the dead, not only for this man, but for all unidentified

  • dead soldiers who lost their lives in during the two World Wars. The coffin was put in

  • its final resting place on 28 January 1921. On top of the grave you can read the inscription

  • "ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914--1918" which means "Here lies

  • a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914--1918". In 1961, the US President, John

  • F. Kennedy paid his respect at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by French

  • President and war hero Charles de Gaulle. Throughout the years, the Arc has been the

  • place of many other major event and national celebrations. In 1840, Napoleon's body passed

  • under the Arc on its way to its second and final resting place at Les Invalides. There

  • has also been many famous victory marches under the Arc, including the Prussians in

  • 1871 and the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war, the French in 1918 after the First World

  • War, the Germans in 1940 as they conquered Paris and the French and Allied forces again

  • in 1944 and 1945. Today, the Arc de Triomphe is visited my millions

  • of people each year. If you haven't already, I recommend you take a closer look at the

  • arc by going through the underpass. It is also possible to enter the top, which will

  • give you a great view over central Paris.

Welcome to the Arc de Triomphe; one of Paris and France's most famous monuments. The Arc

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    ABbla Chung posted on 2013/09/12
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