Wednesday, 10 March 2010 00:00
A first time visitor to Paris can not miss the majestically and imposing Arc de Triomphe in the centre of Etoile. It is a large roundabout designed by Baron Haussmann and it is noted as the best triumphal arch in the whole world. The arch was built by Napoleon to celebrate his victorious battles. The Arc de Triomphe was eventually built to replace the arch that was that was initially built at the place de Carrousel, because it did not have the imposing qualities Napoleon envisioned. The 164 foot Arc de Triomphe construction work took 30 years and was completed under Louis Phillippe because Napoleon was defeated and the power shifted hands. But, in order to honour Napoleon who happened to be the original initiator, his body was made to pass under the arch while on the way to its final resting place.
The Arc de Triomphe today remains a symbol of an outstanding economic monument and past governments had never failed to recognise it as such. On May 8 each year it plays a central role in the VE Day celebrations; on July 14 it hosts an event to mark Bastille Day and Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805 is marked at the foot of the arch on December 2. Beneath the arch is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a victim of World War I, who was buried on November 11 1920 and where Remembrance Day events are held every year. A Memorial Flame above the tomb is lit at 6:30pm every day.
Some of the major features of the imposing Arc de Triomphe are the work of legendary artists that adorned the arch with their best designs and sculptures which lends creditability to what a priority the Arc de Triomphe was. Artist and sculptors like Jean-Pierre Cortot, Antonine Etex and Francois Rude worked on the arch. And the artist works are enough to re-enact the glorious and the inglorious old story of Paris up to date. The Arc de Triomphe is also adorned with a fantastic viewing platform which can allow a first time visitor to have a glimpse of all the arenas in Paris.
The enigmatic Arc de Triomphe houses a museum that depicts the fantastic story of the arch and the details of Napoleon’s escapades during his life time. And there is also the freedom for any visitor that that wishes to climb up the 184 foot steps to have a glance at the platform.
Good luck and bon voyage.
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