In 1806, Napoleon, the French Emperor, commissionned the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to commemorate his victories. Since then, the Arc de Triomphe, one of the top monuments of the city, crowns the perspective of the Champs Elysees.
Every year, 600 000 tourists visit the Arc de Triomphe, one of the most famous Paris monuments. A legacy of Emperor Napoleon, Arc de Triomphe is also the rallying point of French troops parading down the Champs Elysees on Bastille day, July 14th, the French National Day.
Arc de Triomphe is a memorial dedicated to the 1 500 000 French soldiers who died during World War One. The view from the top of Arc de Triomphe over the twelve radiating avenues from it and the whole city of Paris is spectacular.
Having won the Austerlitz victory (picture) against a Russo-Austrian army on December 2nd 1805, French Emperor Napoleon told his soldiers: "You will return home through archs of triumph". To honor his soldiers, Napoleon commissioned the Arc de Triomphe to French architect Jean Chalgrin (picture) in 1806. The construction was stopped in 1814 with the abdication of Napoleon and resumed in 1826. The Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836 (picture) under French King Louis Philippe (picture), the King who returned the ashes of Napoleon from Saint Helena Island to Paris (visit Napoleon's tomb in Les Invalides).
The Arc de Triomphe is 49m high, 45m wide, 22m deep. It is covered by sculptures including La Marseillaise (picture) by Francois Rude (picture). The names of 128 battles fought by the French Republic and Napoleon between 1792 and 1814 are engraved on the walls under the vault (picture) with the names of the generals who fought them.
On November 11th 1920, an unknown soldier, meaning an unidentified soldier, was buried under the vault of the Arc de Triomphe, as a representative of the 1 500 000 French soldiers who died during World War One between 1914 and 1918. The idea to honor a French soldier who had died ﬁghting for his country was broached in 1916 by an ofﬁcial in the city of Rennes, who had ﬁgured in much of the ﬁghting. The idea gathered backing until, in December, 1919, more than a year after the end of the war, it reached Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau. He approved the idea, but proposed that a suitable tomb for an unknown soldier be installed in the Pantheon, the honorary burial place in Paris for France’s major historical ﬁgures. French veterans’ organizations argued that the unknown soldier’s burial place should be in a prestigious location reserved for him alone. They favored the Arc de Triomphe, originally built to honor military who died in the French revolutionary and Napoleonic-era wars. And so it was decided. Since 1923, at 6.30pm everyday, French war veterans and soldiers rekindled the Flame of Remembrance (picture) on the tomb of the unknown soldier.
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The Arc de Triomphe is often painted in the perspective of the Champs Elysees. Although none of the many famous painters who lived in Paris painted the Arc de Triomphe, there are a few lovely paintings of it.
More top Paris monuments.