The Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France, is almost as synonymous with the City of Lights as is the Eiffel Tower. Movies depict daring drivers as they circle the great monument at breakneck speeds. A recent event covered the entire arch in fabric, honoring artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Daily, visitors strive to climb the stairs for the view from above. Through these arenas and more, many see the 162-foot tall and 150-foot wide Triumphal Arc from around and on top. Rather than looking within the typical scope, let's take a gander from another angle.
The Arc as a structure honors the individuals who fought for
France and died during the French Revolution as well as the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon I commissioned the arch in celebration of the victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. The first stone was placed on his birthday in 1806. The construction spanned 36 years. He did not see the completion of his project.
Going up: After climbing 284 steps, a small museum is available to peruse. It contains interactive exhibits explaining the history. Climb 40 more stairs to ascend to the roof.
Several events transpired at this edifice over the years. Many important French figures such as Victor Hugo have lain in state at the Arc before they were buried. Soldiers marched in victory, both German and French. The last major soldier parade occurred in 1945 after the end of World War II in Europe.
The next time you see an image, video, or clip in a movie of the Arc de Triomphe, perhaps you will remember the meaning behind the symbol. Men and women fought for freedom. While the victories are celebrated, we also honor their sacrifice.
At left, Rebecca visited the top of the Arc de Triomphe for the first time in the summer of 1991. Bottom Right is the latest visit from a 2022 research trip with fellow Heroes, Heroines, and History blogger, Cindy Stewart. All photos in this post were taken by Rebecca and friends.
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