What Is The Arc De Triomphe Made Of

What is the Arc de Triomphe made of?

Made of stone, the Arc de Triomphe was built to honor those who fought during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. It stands as one of the most recognized and well-known landmarks in Paris, France. Commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon, the Arc de Triomphe is a huge traditional structure with a height of 50 meters; it is built in a neo-Classical style and designed by Jean Chalgrin. While the structure is composed of a variety of materials, the most important one is the stone.

The stone used for the building is known as Pierre de Belleville, a limestone quarried from a nearby region in the North of France. This limestone is of an off white color and its hardness is relatively high. As an aesthetic choice for the Arc de Triomphe, the quarrymen chose the diamonds in larger format, meaning the stones were collected in pieces up to one-meter high and two-meters wide. The stones are distinctively identifiable thanks to the mauves and ochres colorations sourced from mineral oxides.

The limestone blocks were polished with a scrape chisel before they were assembled, to create a smooth curved surface and give a better shape to the final edifice. A team of five experts was employed by the constructor, who tested the blocks to make sure they were strong enough and free of cracks. One masonry technique, called mur vite, was used, which involves the assembling of stones in two layers of varying thickness. This technique has allowed the structure to stay sound through the centuries.

The Arc de Triomphe design took up four years for the project to be completed in 1836, with the addition of some decorations and four sculptures by Cortot, Rude, Etex, and Mercié that sit atop the arches. One of the most impressive elements of the Arc de Triomphe is the intricate carvings that adorn the structure, depicting scenes from the Napoleonic wars, invasions and battles, as well as the achievements of the Republic. Working together, the stone, carvings and sculptures make the arc a lasting and beautiful monument to France’s past glory.

Safety Aspects

The Arc de Triomphe has proven to be very reliable, withstanding droughts, storms, fog; and strong winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour. In addition to the robust limestone, the structure has been reinforced using steel cables and metal screws, carefully integrated into the construction to maintain structural stability. To ensure the structural integrity of the Arc de Triomphe, the building is constantly monitored and inspected for signs of wear and tear.

The metal reinforcements that have been added to the construction are corrosion-resistant and can support and distribute loads while transferring force to the foundation, allowing the structure to stand strong through seismic activity or weakening of the stone structure due to wear and tear over time. The metal reinforcements also provide a measure of seismic stability, as they are able to respond to ground movement and keep the structure stable.

The metal reinforcements help to prevent the stones from cracking in high winds, as the metal cables and screws hold the stones in place. However, the metal reinforcements cannot protect the stones from weathering, so regular maintenance is required to keep the Arc de Triomphe looking as impressive as the day it was built. The structure may need to be sandblasted and sealed, for example, to help reduce the impact of the wear and tear of exposure to the elements.

Conservation Efforts

The preservation of the Arc de Triomphe is a major priority for both the French government and citizens of France. The government has taken steps to ensure the structure remains safe and well-maintained, including regular inspections and the implementation of conservation techniques.

The French government is also taking steps to protect the Arc de Triomphe from vandalism. Security cameras have been installed to monitor activity on the structure, as well as a new system that uses sensors to detect strange movements, sounds and vibrations.

The Arc de Triomphe is also being cleaned more regularly, thanks to the use of two vacuum cleaners and a thermal imaging system. These tools are used to detect areas of decay or structural damage that need to be addressed, and the cleaning process helps to remove dirt and grime that has built up over time.

The government is also introducing educational programs in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of preserving the structure. This includes public tours that allow visitors to learn more about the history of the Arc de Triomphe and its cultural significance.

Impact Of Tourism

The Arc de Triomphe is a major tourist attraction, drawing millions of visitors from around the world each year. Tourism has a direct effect on the health of the structure, due to the large numbers of tourists using the stairs and balcony area of the Arc de Triomphe.

However, the impact of tourism can be managed if visitors are encouraged to use the stairs with caution and avoid crowding the balconies. The number of visitors allowed in the premises at any one time is also limited, in order to reduce the amount of pressure on the structure.

The French government has also taken measures to generate revenue from the tourist industry, such as leasing the space to businesses. This has allowed the government to invest in the upkeep of the structure and employ experts in conservation and restoration.

The profits generated from the tourists can also be used to protect the Arc de Triomphe from potential damage or vandalism. The funds can be used to strengthen security protocols or install additional cameras and sensors around the structure.

Ceremonies And Celebrations

The Arc de Triomphe is also the site of many ceremonial events, such as the annual Paris military parade, held on July 14th to commemorate the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789, which initiated the French Revolution.

The Arc de Triomphe is also the backdrop for numerous state funerals, such as the funeral of French President Jacques Chirac in 2008. During such occasions, the structure is carefully decorated with floral wreaths and flags, adding to the solemn atmosphere of the ceremony.

The structure has also become a popular site for weddings and christenings, with wedding receptions often held on the balconies, providing a beautiful and unique setting for important gatherings.

From a military and cultural perspective, to its use in tourism and ceremonies, the Arc de Triomphe is an iconic symbol of French history and culture. Built from a combination of stone and metal reinforcements, the structure is both robust and beautiful, having endured centuries of weathering and human contact. With proper maintenance, the structure can be preserved for future generations, allowing visitors to continue to admire its beauty for many years to come.


The Arc de Triomphe is not only a stunning monument to French history and culture, but also one of remarkable strength and durability. Built with a combination of limestone and metal reinforcements, the structure has withstood the substantial forces of time, weather, and human contact. Thanks to a combination of educational programs, conservation efforts and vigilant security, the Arc de Triomphe can remain a grand and impressive site for the millions of tourists and locals who visit each year.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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