Saturday, July 1, 2017

Arc de Triomphe a BIG Surprise!

The first thing that struck me after exiting the underground Paris Metro stop, going up the stairs and first seeing IT was just how big IT is!

The Arc du Triomphe is one colossal and impressive monument.

I had seen images of the Arc before, most notably (and historically) in the context of German troops marching through it after conquering France in 1940, then U.S. forces parading through in 1944 after liberating Paris.
Seeing it in person, though, up close and personal like this definitely induced the Wow factor.

The Arc stands 162 feet tall, is 150 feet wide and 72 feet deep. It was built between 1806 and 1836.
It is located in the busy Place Charles de Gaulle.
The Avenue des Champs Elysees, Paris' famous and popular shopping, theatre and cafe mecca, ends at the Arc de Triomphe.
This panorama shot I took from the top of the Arc shows several of 12 roads that all intersect with the circular Arc de Triomphe.
The Arc is definitely an iconic Paris structure where everyone wants to have their picture taken.
It can get pretty congested in this area!
Joseph took this one of me, Alesia and Justin.
A long and narrow (did I say long?) spiral staircase gets visitors triumphantly to the top (for 12 euros, that is).
There is a small elevator that can be used by those who would rather not walk the long, dizzying (for some) ascension.
But the climb is worth it! Here are several views from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
This is Paris' financial district.
The Eiffel Tower. We would also be treated to such majestic skyline views of Paris earlier in the trip when we visited the Pantheon, which also features access to such panoramas.  See my post on the Pantheon here.
This is the beautiful Sacre Coeur church, also called the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris.
This is one site that we did not visit, but wish I had.  Maybe next time!

The gold domed church is the location of Napolean's tomb, which is part of the Invalides complex that includes the massive French Army Museum.

I visited Invalides and will soon post on that.
Paris is in the running for the 2024 Summer Olympics.  That large 4 Paris structure is part of the city's efforts to secure that selection.
This would have special significance as Paris hosted the 1924 Olympics (and also in 1900).
 It truly is amazing just how high you are when on the roof of the Arc.

This image shows the Louvre Museum and the ancient Egyptian Luxor Obelisk.  I posted on our visit to the fabulous Louvre art museum.  In that post, I included a photo from the Louvre perspective, looking to the obelisk and the Arc de Triomphe.
It was a truly cool experience to be on top of Paris this way.  You could spend as much time as you like up here, unlike the Pantheon sky view. There you were given maybe 15 minutes before having to leave (which was plenty of time really).
At the peak of powers in 1806, Napolean commissioned construction of a triumphal monument.

In design it would be modeled after the Roman Arch of Titus, which dates to 82 AD.
Napoleon had just won a great victory at Austerlitz (in present day Czech Republic) over larger Russian and Austrian armies.

He sought a memorial that would document the many great battles of the Napoleonic wars.  Inside and outside the arch are listed dozens of battle names and names of French generals involved in them.
The Arc has several sculptured images of battles.  The largest are the four on each of the four pillars.
From Wikipedia, here are details on the four sculptures, in chronology of the historic events they represent.

1792- "Le Depart de 1792" by Francois Rude. This piece celebrates the cause of the French First Republic during the Aug. 10 uprising.  Above the volunteers is the winged personification of Liberty.
1810- "Le Triomphe of 1810" by Jean-Pierre Cortot, celebrates the Treaty of Schonbrunn.  Austria signed this treaty in 1809 after being defeated by France at the Battle of Wagram in July of that year.

Napoleon is being crowned by the Goddess of Victory.
1814- "Le Resistance de 1814" by Antoine Etex commemorates the French resistance to the Allied armies during the War of the Sixth Coalition.

After Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Russia in 1812, an Allied force of several continental European nations would push back his army to France, would capture Paris in 1814, and force Napoleon's exile (to Alba).
1815- "La Paix de 1815" by Antoine Etex commemorates the Treaty of Paris, signed in that year.

Napoleon had escaped from his exile in Alba, returned to France, and to power.  He would wage war against a "Seventh Coalition" of allied nations that ended with his decisive defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in Belgium in 1815.
The Arc also has this memorial to France's Unknown Soldiers of World War I.
A ceremony is held here each Armistice Day, Nov. 11, to remember the end of World War I in 1918.
Seeing the Arc de Triomphe was another neat and interesting experience in Paris.
I certainly learned more than I ever have about the Napoleonic Wars from 1803-1815!
Post a Comment