Arc de Triomphe Paris about 1892

ARCH OF TRIUMPH PARIS — One has to deal with superlatives in Paris. To say that this is the finest triumphal arch in the world is a strong statement, but it is literally true. It was begun by Napoleon I to commemorate his marvelous victories in 1805 and 1806. Built after the style of the old Roman arches of triumph, it nevertheless surpasses them both in its grand dimensions and in the magnificent effect which it produces. Something of this is due to its unrivaled situation. It stands upon an elevation from which radiate, in perfect symmetry, twelve of the finest avenues in existence. The grandest of these is the world-renowned Champs Elysees. Numerous marble reliefs upon this arch commemorate the achievements of the French. Around the summit are marble medallions in the form of shields bearing the names of various brilliant victories. Within the arch are the names of 656 generals of the Republic and Empire. On each of its four immense pilasters is a colossal group of statuary in relief, of which the ones presented in this illustration portray Napoleon crowned by Victory, and France summoning her children to take up arms in her defense. One can form some idea of the grandeur of this structure when he reflects that it is 160 feet in height and 146 in breadth. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)


The Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle (originally named Place de l’Étoile), at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It should not be confused with a smaller arch, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which stands west of the Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.

The Arc de Triomphe is the linchpin of the Axe historique (historic axis) – a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which runs from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Grande Arche de la Défense. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806 and its iconographic program pits heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments with triumphant patriotic messages.

The monument stands 50 metres (164 ft) in height, 45 m (148 ft) wide and 22 m (72 ft) deep. The large vault is 29.19 m (95.8 ft) high and 14.62 m (48.0 ft) wide. The small vault is 18.68 m (61.3 ft) high and 8.44 m (27.7 ft) wide. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arc de Triomphe is built on such a large scale that, three weeks after the Paris victory parade in 1919 (marking the end of hostilities in World War I), Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport biplane through it, with the event captured on newsreel.

It was the tallest triumphal arch in existence until the completion of the Monumento a la Revolución in Mexico City in 1938, which is 67 metres (220 ft) high. The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, completed in 1982, is modelled on the Arc de Triomphe and is slightly taller at 60 m (197 ft). (from Wikipedia)

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