L'Arc de Triomphe: A History


L'Arc de Triomphe: The French Version of Pomp and Circumstance

What is it about the Arc de Triomphe that makes it so special? It's not like it was the first arch ever built. It's not like it is the only memorial to soldiers. So what is it that causes people to identify it as one of the most iconic monuments of Paris and one of the most recognizable in the world? Here are some facts that will hopefully give us some answers.

It took a while to build

It was built between 1806 and 1836. Napoleon I had ordered that a grand arch be built to honor those who have served France, but it was not until the rule of Louis-Philippe that this was completed. A total of 30 years! Why so long? The arc was temporarily halted after Napoleon's empire fell, because you know, invading Russia in the wintertime is always a good idea! But thankfully someone else shared Napoleon's vision and saw that the arch was completed.

Memorial to French soldiers

L'Arc de Triomphe was built to honor those who have served France. After its completion, names of French generals have been carved into the arch to honor their service. When Napoleon had the arch in mind, he had already had successful military campaigns and wanted his soldiers to be remembered.  Since then, as more and more wars were fought, the arch became a memorial to all soldiers, not just napoleonic.

An unknown soldier from World War I is buried there

It was not until the end of World War I that a soldier was laid to rest at the base of the arch. Then, a few years after the Armistice, an eternal flame was lit and has never been extinguished. It serves as a reminder of the brutality of war, the dedication of soldiers, and to honor those who have died for their country.

Arch of Titus, Rome

Seem familiar? Arch of Titus in Rome

If you've been to Rome, you've noticed the similarities between the Arch of Titus and the Arc de Triomphe. While L'Arc de Triomphe was built in the 19th Century, the Arch of Titus was built centuries before. During the planning process, Napoleon and architects drew inspiration from the famous arch that stands tall over the Roman ruins, overlooking the Colosseum.

An observation deck overlooks the city

For those brave enough, you can climb all the way to the top of the arch and look at the city. It is meant to have a central location from which you can see the Eiffel Tower, la Défense, Sacré Coeur, and Notre Dame. Climb the stairs all the way to the top during the day and you can see for miles (if it's not too cloudy) and climb them at night for an unforgettable view of the city of lights.

There is an observation deck at the top and you can see a panoramic view of the city. During high season it can get busy so if you don't like tight spaces avoid going during peak hours. You have to pay to climb the stairs. There is an elevator but it only takes you halfway to the top.

http://www.arcdetriompheparis.com for visitor information

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