Who Made The Arc De Triomphe?
The celebrations of the centennial of the 1810 July Revolution of France’s First Empire was an occasion for the early French government to recognize its heroic soldiers by constructing the iconic Arc de Triomphe monument. Emperor Napoleon I commissioned a competition to design the project in 1806, with prominent architects such as Charles Percier, Pierre Fontaine, and Honoré Daumet submitting proposals. However, the project would eventually be supervised by Jean Chalgrin, the official architect of Paris at the time, and Louis-Étienne Héricart de Thury, a former military engineer.
Chalgrin’s classical design concepts strongly influenced the aesthetic appearance of the monument, such as its symmetrical and arched shape, while Héricart de Thury successfully managed the project and ensured that it remained aesthetically in line with Chalgrin’s vision. Swells of enthusiasm surrounding the monument’s construction were so high that the official opening ceremony of the monument lasted three weeks. Construction on the monumental structure began on August 15, 1806, and on July 30, 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was officially opened by King Louis-Philippe.
In addition to its visual grandeur, the political importance of the Arc de Triomphe is immense. As Frederic Schlosser, senior research associate at the French Academy of Sciences in Paris, points out, the Arc de Triomphe not only serves as a decorative structure to visually impress those who first encounter it, but it also serves a memorial of French history. Schlosser argues that the Arc de Triomphe is a vital historical artifact demonstrating the political ethos of the early French government and its approach to celebrating Napoleon’s military victories.
This is underscored by the fact that the names of 129 battles won by Napoleon’s armed forces are inscribed on the Arc’s walls. Visitors to the Arc de Triomphe are also reminded of brave soldiers who sacrificed their lives in their quest for freedom. Each visitor can find an inscription honoring those who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and a Flame of Remembrance that is re-lit annually on November 11, in honor of Armistice Day. Such honors are designed to show reverence for those who have given their lives for their country.
In addition to recognizing the bravery of French soldiers and the valor of Napoleon’s armies, the Arc de Triomphe has many different symbolic meanings. According to Sylvain Chavanel, a historian of French monuments, the Arc de Triomphe was an emblem of the country’s promise to never forget the victories of its forces and never memorialize those who were unfortunate to have lost. He argues further that, to an extent, the monument also symbolizes the eternity of French victory.
Notwithstanding its grandeur and its political symbolism, the Arc de Triomphe also serves as a bridge, in both a figurative and a literal sense. Chavanel notes that the Arc’s internal architecture—the foyer, chapel, and courtyard—serve as “passages”, making virtual connections between those inside and outside the monument and between different eras of French history.
Moreover, the monument’s design further enhances this sense of connection and unity: the Arc de Triomphe is oriented in such a way that passers-by outside the Arc and visitors within the Arc all look in the same direction, thereby creating a unified field of vision. Such an orientation suggests that the soldiers, generals, and citizens inside the Arc are united in a common cause and share a collective identity.
The Eiffel Tower and the Obelisk
The Arc de Triomphe is truly one of the most iconic monuments in Paris and the world. However, this monument is not the only example of the city’s monumental architecture. Adjacent to the Arc de Triomphe is the Grande Arche, a modernist octagonal building designed by Danish architect Johann Otto von Spreckelsen and completed in 1989, and the Eiffel Tower, built from 1887 to 1889 by Gustave Eiffel.
The Eiffel Tower is widely regarded as an iconic symbol of French culture and has been a major tourist attraction since its opening. Not only is the Eiffel Tower an impressive work of structural engineering, but it is also an example of art in architecture. The tower uses light to create an iconic silhouette, which is illuminated each night and provides a spectacularly beautiful view of Paris both from the ground and from the top of the tower.
Another interesting feature of the Eiffel Tower is its numerous sculptures and reliefs, many of which were designed by Gustave Eiffel himself. Some of the most notable sculptures are the four allegorical figures at the base of the tower, symbolizing the sciences, physics, chemistry, astronomy and industry.
Around the Eiffel Tower, Paris also houses other monuments that emphasize the city’s history and architecture. One of these is the obelisk in the Place de la Concorde, which was presented to Louis XVI in 1792 by Mohamed Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt. The obelisk is an ancient symbol of power and it remains one of the most important monuments in Paris, as it provides visitors with an opportunity to explore the influence of the Roman and ancient Egyptian cultures.
The Louvre and the Mona Lisa
The Louvre is the largest museum in Paris and one of the world’s most influential artistic centers. It serves as a key cultural institution of France and is one of the oldest and largest museums in the world. Its vast collection includes works by renowned artists such as da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Botticelli. While the entire museum is impressive, its most iconic artwork is the Mona Lisa painting.
The Mona Lisa painting is an enigmatic portrait of a woman with a mysterious smile. The painting is by Italian master Leonardo da Vinci, who is often regarded as one of the greatest painters of all time. The work is a prime example of da Vinci’s artistry and a major emblem of Italian Renaissance culture. While the portrait has been studied intensely, its origin and meaning remain rather elusive.
Although the painting is small in size, the Mona Lisa has become one of the most popular works of art due to its intriguing expressions and beautiful treatment of light and shadow. It is the most heavily visited artwork in the Louvre museum and continues to captivate the public. The painting is also a popular icon that has been widely reproduced in print, film, and television.
The Gothic Cathedrals
One of the most impressive histories of Paris is the rise of Gothic architecture and the spectacular cathedrals located throughout the city. These works of art are some of the most important in the city, as they demonstrate the incredible achievements of medieval architecture and design. Gothic architecture is characterized by its unique use of ribbed vaults, complex shapes, and ornate decorations.
The most famous Gothic cathedral in Paris is Notre Dame de Paris. The construction of this grand church began in 1163 and it took over a century to complete. The architecture of the cathedral is spectacular, with its sharply pointed arches, elaborate sculptures, and stained glass windows. The cathedral also features an impressive facade and one of the largest and oldest pipe organs in Europe.
Another impressive example of Gothic architecture is found at the Sainte-Chapelle, a Gothic Chapel built from 1238-1244, which houses some of the most important medieval manuscripts and religious relics in the world. The stained glass of the church is particularly stunning and it is unique in its use of light and color to create a truly awe-inspiring atmosphere.
The Sacré Coeur and the Panthéon
Paris is also home to two very unusual and iconic landmarks – the Sacré Coeur and the Panthéon. The Sacré Coeur is a Roman Catholic basilica built in the late 19th century that lies on the highest point of the city. Its impressive white facade and large bell tower make it an iconic sight in the cityscape, and it continues to be a place of pilgrimage for many believers.
The Panthéon is a Neoclassical mausoleum and former church, located in the Latin Quarter of Paris. It was built in the 18th century and has served as both a mausoleum and a public hall. The exterior is characterized by its Corinthian columns, imposing dome, and grand steps leading to the entrance. Inside, the Panthéon is adorned with stunning murals, sculptures and ornate columns that are truly awe-inspiring.
No visit to Paris would be complete without a stroll down the Champs-Élysées, which is known for its shops, cafes, and entertainment. The avenue is one of the most iconic spots in the city and has been the site of countless festivals, political gatherings, and parades. Visitors from all over the world come to the Champs-Élysées to experience the bustling atmosphere of the city.
The avenue is home to a wide variety of boutiques, restaurants, and theatres, as well as iconic landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Palais. The area is full of life, and the bustling avenues make it a great place to relax and shop or grab something to eat after a long day of sightseeing.
Finally, no visit to Paris is complete without a visit to the River Seine. This river is one of the most romantic spots in Paris and has been used as an inspiration for countless works of art. It is also one of the most popular destinations for tourists, as it provides them with an unparalleled opportunity to take in the beauty of the city.
The river is lined with romantic cafes and restaurants, as well as historic monuments like Notre-Dame de Paris, the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. Taking a boat ride on the Seine provides visitors with the opportunity to enjoy a stunning view of the city and to marvel at some of the stunning landmarks located on its banks.