When Was The Arc De Triomphe Finished

The Arc de Triomphe, located at the heart of Paris, is undeniably one of the most iconic monuments in the world. Its iconic three-arched structure, which has been standing proudly for nearly two centuries, holds many stories of its own. Built to honor those who fought for France in the Napoleonic wars, the Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836.

Although its beginnings stretch back all the way to Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign, its construction was started by one of his rivals, Charles-François Lebrun. Lebrun was appointed by King Louis-Philippe, who was determined to revive Paris’s history and architecture. As part of his plan, he commissioned the construction of the Arc de Triomphe to commemorate the ascension to the throne of his father, Louis XVIII, in 1815. Construction on the monument began in 1806 but would not be finished until 1836, making it the longest public construction project ever in French history.

Of course, the monument’s construction is just the tip of the iceberg. The Arc de Triomphe is a remarkable piece of architecture, designed by Jean-François Chalgrin and François-Jacques Bossan and hailed as an example of perfect neoclassical architecture. Its 164-foot arch boasts 32 intricately carved reliefs, depicting scenes of historical and national significance, and its 114-foot tall pillars are adorned with sculptures of worthy figures from the Napoleonic period and beyond.

The Arc de Triomphe is also famous for its carefully crafted inscription, which reads, “To the armies of the nation”. This engraving has constructed a deep connection between the monument and the French Republic, as it was intended to inspire patriotism and reflect the will of the people. It has since become a symbol of national pride and a landmark of French identity, making it a popular and important tourist attraction.

The Arc de Triomphe has been more than just an iconic symbol of French history – it’s also been a sight of cultural and political importance. Many important state events have been held at the monument, including funerals for figures such as General Charles de Gaulle and countless ceremonies to commemorate important occasions in French history.

From its construction to its role in French state events, the Arc de Triomphe has been a central fixture in Paris, and its history is one of the longest of any monument in Europe. Its completion in 1836 endures as a milestone on both the French people’s history and the history of public architecture, contributing to the enduring charm of Paris.

Design and Material

The Arc de Triomphe features both grandeur and intricacy in its design and materiel, which has been carefully constructed to reflect the history and culture of France. The primary material used in its construction is limestone, which was sourced from the nearby Chaillée quarries. It was then cut into individual blocks and transported to the construction site for assembly.

The monument was also intricately carved, featuring thirty-two meticulously adorned reliefs with scenes from French history, including the Battle of Austerlitz, the Departure of the Volontaires de 1792 and the Mamelouks of the Grand Army. Two of its sides also feature inscriptions, with the south facade offering a translation of the Arc de Triomphe’s original Latin inscription.

The Arc de Triomphe also offers self-iriadiated finials that are quite different from traditional imperial or military monuments. These represent the sun, an ancient symbol of power and royalty, as opposed to the traditional eagles usually found atop military monuments.

Restoration Process

The Arc de Triomphe has undergone several restoration processes to maintain its classical appearance and grandeur. The first of these restorers was Émile Boeswillwald in 1836. He was tasked with stabilizing the structure and replacing the missing parts.

The next major restoration project was lead by Jean-Camille Formigé in the late 1880s. He tweaked some of the structure’s details, including adding the guards figures holding bayonets, lights and the Victories on the beams of the four façades.

In the early 2000s, the arc earned another full scale restoration. This time, the cleaning team used a new technique to remove the established dirt from the 15,000-m3 limestone in an attempt to preserve it for as long as possible.

More recently, work has been done to repair some of the stones, replacing them with newer ones sourced from the Chaillée quarry. The new stones have also been carved to match the originals as closely as possible, and the majority of the structure remains untouched.

Contribution to France and the World

The Arc de Triomphe has served as far more than an iconic structure in French public life. Along with the nearby Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Palace, it was part of a major urban renewal project funded by Louis-Philippe in the 19th century. The project had a massive impact on the city, and it recreated the grandeur of Parisian life from centuries before.

The Arc de Triomphe is also a major tourist attraction and is strongly known for its contribution to the French military. Going back to its inauguration in 1836, it’s been a major focal point for processions, ceremonies, funerals and tributes. A particularly fascinating tradition has been parades and services held to honor soldiers who fought for France in battles, from the World War I to the present day.

The Arc de Triomphe also serves as a symbol of unity for the whole of France. It features a number of significant inscriptions, one of which reads, “To unite all the scattered rays of French glory.” This has been true not only in terms of French history, but in terms of the European Union since 1999, when the Union was represented at the Arc de Triomphe for the first time.


The Arc de Triomphe’s impact can be seen in numerous ways. Beyond its incredible structure, it serves as a symbol of the French nation and is deeply connected to its history and culture. Its richly sculpted reliefs, intricate carvings and meaningful inscriptions offer a glimpse into the great civilization of France and its history.

The Arc de Triomphe serves as a reminder to all of Napoleon’s great battles and sacrifices and stands proudly in the center of Paris as a beacon of peace. Despite the many changes and tumultuous times since its construction, the Arc de Triomphe testifies to the power and determination of both the people and the country it represents.

Financial Cost

The full costs of the Arc de Triomphe are far from insignificant. Once all the costs of the project were tallied up—from material, labor and transport costs to decorations and exterior paints—it was estimated that the total cost was around 6 million francs. This was an incredible amount for the time, and was equivalent to around a quarter of the French government’s entire annual budget.

Due to the financial strain of the project, Ferdinand Soult was placed in charge of its funding in 1826. In order to ensure its completion before Louis-Philippe’s coronation in 1836, Soult was forced to come up with innovative methods of raising funds, including launching public subscription campaigns, selling inscribed commemorative stones, levying taxes and pressuring banks to loan the government money.

This funding strategy, while effective, was also controversial, as it often required increased taxes, which caused significant tension among both the French people and the monarchy. In the end, however, their efforts paid off and the construction of the Arc de Triomphe was completed within the set timeframe.

Symbolism of the Monument

The Arc de Triomphe is synonymous with the power and influence of French civilization. It stands as a symbol of unity, not only within France, but also Europe, and commemorates many key figures in French history, from the military heroes of the Revolution and Napoleonic wars to the workers and architects who were responsible for its construction.

The Arc de Triomphe also stands as a testament to France’s role in the European Union, a union of countries that share common values such as freedom and justice, and works together to achieve their common goals. This monument, which dates back nearly two centuries, stands proudly in the heart of Paris, reminding us of where we have come from and the potential impacts our collective efforts can make.

The Arc de Triomphe is a stunning example of neoclassical architecture and a reminder of the creative strength of each nation. Symbolically, it expresses the French Republic’s determination to keep working together to make their country the best it can be.

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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