France - Table of Contents    ...............    Architecture Around the World

Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile
(Pronounced: ark de tree ohmff de lay twowl)
Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe - Official Website

Photographs taken in February 2012.

The arch was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 to commemorate his victories, but he was ousted before the arch was completed. In fact, it wasn't completed until 1836 during the reign of Louis-Philippe. The Arc de Triomphe is engraved with names of generals who commanded French troops during Napoleon's regime.

The design of the arch by Jean Chalgrin is based on the Arch of Titus in Rome. The Arc de Triomphe is much higher (50m versus 15m), but it has exactly the same proportions.

The triumphal arch is adorned with many reliefs, most of them commemorating the emperor's battles. Among them are the battle of Aboukir, Napoleon's victory over the Turkish and the Battle of Austerliz, where Napoleon defeated the Austrians. The best known relief is the Departure of the Volunteers in 1792, also known as the Marseillaise.

At the top of the arch are 30 shields, each of them bears the name of one of Napoleon's successful battles. Below the arch is the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers, honoring the many who died during the first World War.

- A View on Cities (April 2012)
The Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile {ahrk duh tree-ohmf' duh lay-twahl'}, the world's largest triumphal arch, forms the backdrop for an impressive urban ensemble in Paris. The monument surmounts the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star-shaped configuration of 12 radiating avenues. It is the climax of a vista seen the length of the Champs Elysées from the smaller Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in the Tuileries gardens, and from the Obélisque de Luxor in the place de la Concorde.

In 1806, Napoleon I conceived of a triumphal arch patterned after those of ancient Rome and dedicated to the glory of his imperial armies. The structure was designed by Jean François Thérèse Chalgrin (1739-1811), completed in 1833 and inaugurated in 1836 by the French king, Louis-Philippe. Its deceptively simple design and immense size, 49.5 m (162 ft) in height, mark it unmistakably as a product of late 18th-century romantic neoclassicism.

- Discover France (April 2012)

This huge arch stands at the end of the Avenue des Champs Élysées

Memorial arch

Lion  scupper ..... Cornice supported by block modillions ..... Bas-relief sculpture on frieze ..... Egg-and-dart molding



Cortot's The Triumph of Napoleon
"Victory crowns the togaed Napoleon with a laurel wreath while a town surrenders at his feet, History inscribes the names of the battles won on a stone tablet, and Fames blows a trumpet." - Mary Ann Sullivan (April 2012)

Rude's The Departure of the Volunteers of 1792 (or "La Marseillaise")

"The most famous of the four reliefs on the faces of the arch flanking the opening, this emotional composition depicts the French people rallying against enemies from abroad. (Rude's own father had been one of these volunteers.) These citizens, both nude and in classical armor, are roused to patriotic fervor by the Roman goddess of war, Bellona, who has also been identified as a personification of Liberty. This grouping so aroused spectators' patriotism that the work became known as "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem written in 1792--the same year as the departure of the volunteers." - Mary Ann Sullivan (April 2012)

Avenue des Champs Élysées.
The top of the arch features a viewing platform from where you have great views of La Defense, the Champs-Elysées and the Sacré-Coeur. There is no elevator in the arch, so be prepared to walk up 234 steps.

Photos and their arrangement © 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
| ...Home Page ...| ..Buffalo Architecture Index...| ..Buffalo History Index... .|....E-Mail ...| .

web site consulting by ingenious, inc.