Arcs de Triomphe in Paris: Étoile and Carrousel (I)

Arcs de Triomphe in Paris: Étoile and Carrousel (I)
Arcs de Triomphe in Paris: Étoile and Carrousel (I)

As part of a very long tradition that goes back to Classical Antiquity in France we find two of the most famous triumphal arches in history; in fact, the triumphal arches of France – both the Carrousel and the Étoile arch – are the best examples of these commemorative monuments that have been erected since the fall of the Roman Empire.


The triumphal arch appears in Rome with the idea of ​​being a commemorative monument, erected to celebrate some victory or honor some brave general. Although the primitive structures were made with poor materials such as wood, later they were built in stone, the first arch that is preserved would date from the 2nd century BC, although there is evidence that these ephemeral monuments are prior to this date.

Following the same parameters as Napoleon Bonaparte in Roman times, he decides to erect a triumphal arch in Paris that recalls the victory of his army at the Battle of Austerliz. Actually, the battle of Austerliz (1805) was a display of ingenuity by the French emperor, since in nine hours of battle he managed to destroy the forces of the Russian and Austrian armies.

The construction of the famous arch began in 1806 and the works took thirty years, so it was not inaugurated until 1836. It is located at the end of the Champs-Élysées, where formerlywas the Plaza de la Estrella. The project was carried out by Jean Chalgrin and Jean-Arnaud Raymond, who took the Arch of Titus located in Rome as a reference at the express request of the French emperor. Thus the structure is simple, the Étoile arch has a single semicircular opening that breaks the solid block of stone and is supported by four thick pillars; its layout is simple and most of the decoration is relegated to the upper area or attic. Among the reliefs that decorate its walls, it is worth mentioning the one known as Marseillaise, a half-relief that represents the fight against the absolutist powers and that was made by one of the most outstanding artists of the time, François Rude.

On the outer walls of the arch we find other reliefs or the names of important revolutionary figures and the great Napoleonic campaigns; For its part, on the lower face we can see the names of the generals who participated in these battles and underlined those who perished during the contest.

The Arc de Triomphe de Étoile, which is also known simply as the Arc de Triomphe of Paris, has become one of the historical and commemorative symbols of the French capital just behind the emblematic Eiffel Tower. At the foot of the Arch we can find the famous Tomb of the unknown soldier who died in the First World War and in which we can see a permanently lit flame in memory of the soldiers killed during the Great War. Also the insideof the Arc de Triomphe is enabled so that inside there is a pantheon and a museum that allows access to the attic.

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