Arc de Triomphe, Paris France (with Map & Photos)

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is an architectural monument in the antique style and one of the recognizable symbols of the capital of France. The monument was built in the 19th century in honor of the victory of the Napoleonic troops in the Battle of Austerlitz.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

Basic moments

The dimensions of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris are impressive and emphasize its grandeur. The architectural structure rises to 49.5 m, has a width of 44.8 m and a vault height of over 29 meters. Although more than 180 years have passed since its construction, the arch in the French capital remains the largest of all the triumphal arches in the world.

The famous monument stands in the historical center of the city, on the square named after Charles de Gaulle. From this place, 12 avenues are laid in different directions, the most famous of them is called the Champs Elysees. The Arc de Triomphe is visible from all sides, and many French and foreign tourists come to it all year round. The area around the monument can be considered a real place of pilgrimage, as the routes of almost all excursions in Paris are laid past it.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

Through the Arc de Triomphe leads the "Triumphal Way", which is also called the "Royal Perspective". This is a series of buildings and historical monuments, stretched along one axis. It starts from the Louvre, continues through the Tuileries Gardens to Place de la Concorde, and then along the Champs Elysees leads to the arch. The Triumphant Way does not end here. It continues even further from the city center - through the Grand Army Boulevard to the Grand Arch of Defense. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris lies in the middle of the "Royal Perspective", and therefore it is perfectly visible from the buildings of the historic city center and the ultra-modern high-rise buildings of La Defense.

Construction of the Arc de Triomphe

In 1805, the army, led by Napoleon, won the "battle of the three emperors" at Austerlitz. The emperor really wanted to perpetuate the triumph of his soldiers, and ordered the construction of the Arc de Triomphe in the center of Paris.

Architects have prepared several designs for the monument. According to one of them, they planned to make a monument in the form of a huge elephant, in which a museum would be arranged, telling about the victories of the French troops. However, the emperor's attention was attracted by the project of Jean-Francois Chalgrin, the court architect of Napoleon I, who chose the famous single-span arch of Titus in Rome as the prototype of the Parisian monument.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

The ancient monument appeared during the reign of the Roman emperor Domitian, in 81 AD. The Arch of Titus stood on the ancient Sacred Way, southeast of the Roman Forum. The laconic, beautiful monument served as a prototype for many triumphal arches built in modern times.

As in the Roman arch, the monument in the capital of France was planned to be made with one expressive span and powerful supports. At the behest of Napoleon, Chalgrin designed a French arch three times the size of the ancient arch of Titus. The following year, work began on the construction of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. And five years later, the elderly author of the monument died. This happened at a time when the arch was not completed by only 5 meters in height.

The construction of the Arc de Triomphe dragged on for a long three decades due to a series of military defeats of France. In 1806-1807, a foundation was laid under the massive monument. In 1810, the bride of the emperor, Marie Louise of Austria, arrived in the capital of France. In honor of her visit, the wooden scaffolding of the monument under construction was decorated with a harsh canvas, which depicted a finished arch. So Napoleon was able to see his dream in the form of a large life-size model. The architect Abel Blue had the opportunity to complete the construction work. In 1836, when the Arc de Triomphe was finally built, the emperor who conceived it was no longer alive.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

Historical events near the arch

In 1840, the ruler of France, Louis-Philippe I, in order to please the Bonapartists, transported the ashes of Emperor Napoleon to his homeland from the place where he spent the last years of his life. The remains were taken from the remote island of St. Helena, placed on a pompously decorated funeral cortege and carried with honors under the arches of the majestic Arc de Triomphe. Today, the ashes of Napoleon are located in the building of the Les Invalides (Rue de Babylone, 70).

Since then, solemn funerals through the Arc de Triomphe in Paris have become a state tradition. Funeral corteges of the famous writer Victor Hugo, politicians Louis Adolphe Thiers, Lazare-Hippolyte Carnot, Patrice de MacMahon and Léon Michel Gambetta, army generals Ferdinand Foch, Joseph Joffre and Philippe Leclerc, as well as Marshal Jean de Latre de Tassigny passed under the famous monument.

In 1921, the remains of the Unknown Soldier, who gave his life during the recent war, were moved under the Parisian monument. And two years later, the Eternal Flame was installed here as a symbol of memory of all the inhabitants of France who did not return from the fields of the First World War.

Sculptural decoration

The solemnity of the Arc de Triomphe is determined not only by its large size, but also by carefully executed decor - ornaments, bas-reliefs and sculptures. Two sculptural compositions face the city center (Champs Elysees). On the right is a dynamic work by the French master Francois Rude. It is dedicated to the performance of volunteers against the army of Prussia, which entered Lorraine in 1792, and is called "La Marseillaise". On the left side, the arch is decorated with a sculptural group made by Jean-Pierre Cortot. It is called the "Triumph of 1815". In the central part of this composition, the sculptor depicted the figure of Napoleon himself.

From the side of the Defense (Avenue de la Grande-Armée) there are two sculptures, the author of which is the famous French artist Antoine Etex. On the left you can see the "Peace of 1815", depicting the events of the Congress of Vienna. And on the right is a composition dedicated to the events of the French resistance in 1814.

Above the four sculptures, as well as on the sides of the Arc de Triomphe, there are 6 bas-reliefs with scenes of victories won by the French. From the side of Wagram Avenue there is an image of the battle near Austerlitz (1805), where the figures of Russian soldiers are visible. This bas-relief was created by Jean-Francois Theodor Gescher. And on the opposite side is the work of Carlo Marochetti. The bas-relief commemorates the battle near the town of Jemappe in Belgium, which took place between the French and the Austrians in 1792.

From the side of the city center, a bas-relief by Bernard Gabriel Serra or Serra the Elder is visible, in which the commander of the Ottoman Empire, Said Mustafa Pasha, is presented to Emperor Napoleon. These events took place after the French victory at the Battle of Cape Aboukir in Egypt (1799). And next to it is a bas-relief with a scene of the funeral of the French General Marceau, which happened in 1796.

Arc de Triomphe
Arc de Triomphe

From the side of the monument, facing the modern quarter of Defense, you can see the bas-reliefs that immortalized two famous battles: the battle of Arcola in Italy (1796) and the battle for the Egyptian Canob, which took place two years later.

In addition, the names of 128 battles in which the French army won, as well as the names of 660 military leaders, are written on the pillars of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The names of those who fell in battle are crossed out. The monument is surrounded by massive granite pedestals, which are connected by heavy cast-iron chains. They celebrate the hundred days when Napoleon ruled.

Arc de Triomphe today

Every year on July 14, a magnificent military parade ceremony is held near the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Parisians and guests of the city lay wreaths and fresh flowers at the grave and the Memorial Flame. The President of the country and the remaining veterans take part in the celebration.

Inside the Parisian attraction, a museum of the same name is open, where you can learn about the history of its construction and the events that took place near the Arc de Triomphe. And at the top of the monument, an observation deck has been created, which is very popular with tourists. The attention that this observation point on the Chaillot hill attracts is not accidental. From here you have excellent views of the central part of the city and its suburbs. Having been at the top of the famous arch, one can understand why the path leading through it is called "Triumphal".

For tourists, the entrance to the observation deck and the museum exhibition is open seven days a week: from October to March from 10.00 to 22.30, and in other months - until 23.00.

How to get there

The Arc de Triomphe in Paris rises on the Place Charles de Gaulle. You can get to the monument from the Paris metro station Charles de Gaulle Etoile. In addition, many city buses run to the square.

Arc de Triomphe Map