Located at Place Charles de Gaulle
in Paris, France, L'Arc de Triomphe
(the arc of triumph) is a large arch designed to signify and commemorate France's past triumphs in military action.
Commissioned by Napoleon
in 1806, the arch was not completed until 1836 (fifteen years after his death). At the base of each pillar is a relief sculpture
. The four sculptures are The Triumph or 1810
by Jean-Pierre Cortot
by Antoine Etex
, also by Etex
, and The Departure of the Volunteers
, also known as La Marseillaise
by François Rude
Major victories for the French in the revolutionary
and Napoleonic wars
are engraved about the top of the arch, while less important victories, along with the names of 558 generals
who fought in the battles, are engraved on the inside walls. Generals whose names have been underlined died in battle.
The arch stands over the French tomb of an unknown soldier
, which bears the remains of a World War I French soldier
. It is symbolic of the unknown dead from French wars and stands as a reminder of the horror of World War I and II.
From the top of the arch, facing west one can see La Tour Eiffel
in the distance. Facing east, one can see down the Champs Elysées
, toward La Louvre
and the Tuileries Gardens
L'Arc de Triomphe
is 164 feet (50 meters) talls and 148 feet (45 meters) wide. It was designed by J.-F.-T. Chalgrin
That said, one of my favorite jokes while learning French was told by my former instructor as follows:
Why did the French build l'Arc de Triomphe?
So the German soldiers would have some shade to stand in.