Paris, a city teaming with wonderful buildings and charming works of arts, has a square that deserves to be proud of having the world’s largest triumphal arc in it. The circular square named Place Charles De Gaulle is somewhat unique in the sense that, instead of the common four, twelve boulevards emanate from its centre and lead to different parts of the city. Indubitably the most remarkable thing in this square is the gigantic 50-meter arc erected right in its center.
In 1806, Napoleon the 1st ordered the building of an arch in memoriam of his victories upon his enemies. It could not however be completed during his reign, and was inaugurated in the time of Luis Philip in 1836. It was deigned by Jean Francois Therese Chagrin who based it on the Arc of Titus in Rome. Due to its simple design and large height it surely represents the late eighteenth century romantic neoclassicism.
The pillars of the arc are adorned with several large reliefs that honour Napoleon’s famous battles; such as, his victory over the Turks at Aboukir, the battle of Austerliz in which he defeated the Austrians. Around the top of the arc are carved the names of important victories achieved during the French revolution and the Napoleonic period. Along with names of the generals who commanded the French troops. Victories of lesser importance are mentioned on the inner sides of its walls. There are thirty shields, each bearing the name of one of Napoleon’s successful battles.
Below the arc is buried the unknown soldier of the First World War who commemorates the dead of the two world wars. In this way it has become a symbol of the French patriotism as well. On the French National day, July 14th, a military parade begins at the arc and proceeds down the Champs-Elysées. The world famous Tour De France bicycle race reaches its end here at the arc on third or fourth Sunday of July.
From its top one can have a beautiful view of La Defense, Sacre Coeur, and Champs-Elysées. It should be remembered that this historical arc does not have elevator; those who want to reach its top must have the courage to walk its 234 steps to get there.