The monument stands for triumph – the triumph of the human spirit against the odds. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris,
stands proudly, a fitting memorial to homage the brave ones who fought during the Napoleonic Wars, for the honor and freedom of their beloved country, France.
You can see this monument displayed in the middle of the Place Charles de Gaulle, right at the end of the magnificent Champs-Elysees. It is part of a series of monuments that begins from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace all the way to the outskirts of Paris. The Arc de Triomphe stands as the focal point from where other major avenues (such as the Avenue de la Grande Armée and Avenue Foch) radiate.
The Arc de Triomphe was designed by Jean Chalgrin and features images of young people battling Germanic warriors. It was inspired by the Arch of Titus. This triumphal arc is built under the tomb of an unknown soldier.
At the top of the arc and inside is a list of the wars fought during Napoleon's regime and the names of the generals who led during these wars. These are engraved on the shield at the top. There are a number of reliefs that feature war scenes. The scenes include the Turkish defeat under Napoleon, the Battles of Austerliz and Aboukir, as well as the Marseillaise or the Departure of the Volunteers, which are by Francois Rude. The arch also features marine symbols, in honor of Augustus' triumphs.
The Arc holds the distinction of being the biggest triumphal arch there is. To put its size in perspective, the pilot Charles Godefroy flew a biplane under and through the arch, in celebration of the end of World War I. It is a colossal 49.5 meters tall, 45 meters wide and 22 meters deep.
Napoleon Bonaparte commissioned this Arch in 1806. He envisioned his victorious troops marching underneath the arch, amidst the cheers and applause of the crowd. The problem is that the arch was not finished, he was ousted before his vision ever happened. It took around 30 years for it to be completed, during King Louis-Philippe's reign. This is long after Napoleons death in Saint Helens island.
What's great about this monument is that you can climb up to the top and enjoy the views of the Champs-Elysees, the Sacre-Coeur and La Defense. The 234 steps up to the observatory are certainly worth it! Of course, you can also ride the elevators to the top. The arch also features an eternal flame, which is relit every afternoon, at 6:30. This is actually the best time to visit the Arch, as the lights imbue more magic to the place.
There is also a museum at the middle of the arch that features the history of the arch and how it was built.
The Arc de Triomphe is a monument that evokes both memories of Paris' dark and joyful times. It celebrated some of France's most memorable hours – when Napoleon's ashes were dedicated, when Victor Hugo's funeral was celebrated and when the Nazi forces marched into Paris under the arch. It is at the top of the list of any serious tourist in Paris.