10 Interesting Facts about Arc de Triomphe

These following facts about Arc de Triomphe would definitely expand your knowledge about how great this place is. As you know, Arc de Triomphe is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. It stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. It should not be confused with a smaller arch, the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, which stands west of the Louvre. The Arc de Triomphe honors thos who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars. To get to know more this building, here are other facts about Arc de Triomphe you may like.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 1: Giant Elephant

Before it was the Arc de Triomphe, the space there was almost dedicated to a giant elephant. A pre-Napolean, French architect Charles Ribart proposed a three-level, elephant-shaped building that would be entered via a spiral staircase that led up into the elephant’s gut. The furniture would fold into the walls and there would be a drainage system in the elephant’s trunk.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 2: Construction

The Arc as we know it today was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, not too long after his victory as Austerlitz. It took 30 years to finish, and no wonder: it’s incredibly elaborate. Relief sculptures at the base of each of the four pillars show four victories and war scenes, the top of the Arch has the names of major successes during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe - Arc de Triomphe

Facts about Arc de Triomphe – Arc de Triomphe

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 3: Completion

Sadly, Napoleon never got to see the finished product. It wasn’t completed until 1836, 15 years after his death. When he married second wife Marie Louise of Austria, he had a wooden replica of the Arc made so the two of them could pass through it as they entered Paris as a married couple.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 4: Second Largest Triumphal Arch

At 164 feet high by 148 feet wide, it’s the second-largest triumphal arch standing today and was the largest until 1982 when North Korea deliberately built one a little bit larger.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe - Center

Facts about Arc de Triomphe – Center

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 5: Salute

A few weeks after the end of WWI, Charles Godefroy flew his Nieuport fighter plane through the Arch to salute all the airmen killed in the war.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 6: Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

As many countries do, France has a Tomb of the Unknown Solider, and this tomb happens to be under the Arc de Triomphe. The Unknown Soldier has been there since November 10, 1920, and lies under the inscription, “Here lies a French soldier who died for his fatherland 1914-1918.” At that time, an eternal flame was lit to honor those who had fallen during the war.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe - In the middle of traffic

Facts about Arc de Triomphe – In the middle of traffic

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 7: Maseillaise Relief

There was a little problem with the Marseillaise relief in 1916. It’s said that on the day the Battle of Verdun broke out, a major battle between France and Germany in World War I, the sword carried by the warrior who represents France just snapped clean off. It was immediately covered up with tarps so citizens wouldn’t interpret France’s broken sword as a bad omen, but maybe it was: nine French villages were completely destroyed during the fighting, more than a quarter of a million people died and at least half a million were wounded.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 8: Assassination

At least two assassination attempts have taken place at the Arc de Triomphe: Charles De Gaulle narrowly escaped a would-be killer there during his terms (he survived more than 30 assassination attempts, so he was probably unfazed), and in 2002, a single shot missed Jacques Chirac at the same location.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe - Seen from Charles de Gaulle

Facts about Arc de Triomphe – Seen from Charles de Gaulle

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 9: France’s Victory

Although the Arc is meant to celebrate France’s victories, it has seen a couple of horrible defeats as well. Germans marched under the arch in 1871 during the Franco-Prussian War and Nazis did the same during the German occupation of Paris in World War II.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe 10: Cleaning

The last time the Arc de Triomphe had a full-scale cleaning was during the mid-1960s. It was determined in 2007 that the Arc is looking a bit sooty again, so another cleaning is scheduled for 2011.

Facts about Arc de Triomphe - Tomb of Unknown Soldiers

Facts about Arc de Triomphe – Tomb of Unknown Soldiers

Those following facts about Arc de Triomphe may have expanded your knowledge about how tall and historical the place is. It was built to celebrate France’s victory and give much fun to the visitors and people who come there. Hope you would find those Arc de Triomphe facts really interesting and useful.

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