Monday, October 27, 2014

Paris - Arc de Triomphe

Date: 15th April 2014

Those coming to Paris must bear in mind that this is the beloved city of the famous French Emperor, Military and Political leader, Napolean Bonarpate. His memories are visible in most of the important part of Paris, the city that he love most. For those who might not know, he was the one who built the Arc de Triomphe to honour his victories over those wars that he was involved with including the French Revolution. 

The Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile is translated in English as Arch of Triumph of the Star. It is one of the most famous monuments in Paris, stands in the centre of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Elysees. The Triumphal Arch was honours to those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and the Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Many memorial for similar purpose was built in many other cities in the world, such as Arcul de Triumf in Bucharest and India Gate in the capital city of India, Delhi. There's also 1 in my city, Kuala Lumpur "Tugu Negara"of which I will blog about it later. Shame on me for such lack. Toink toink toink..... 

Please note that you have to use the underground walkaway to be at the Arc 

The Arc de Triomphe is the kingpin of the French historic axis, a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route which runs from the courtyard of the Louvre to the Grande Arche de la Defense. The monument was designed by Jean Chalgrin in 1806, under the instruction of Emperor Napoleon who were in throne since 1804. It was designed as an iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain mail. It set the tone for public monuments, with triumphant patriotic messages. For the record, Napoleon was the French Emperor from 1804 till 1814 and again in 1815 before his death on 5th May 1821 at the age of 51.

On the other side of the Arc which was under restoration and/or cleaning at the time of visit

The monument stands 50 metres height, 45 m wide and 22 m deep. Its design was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus. The Arch of Titus, built by Roman Emperor Dominitian is a 1st century honorific arch, located on the Via Sacra, Rome, just to the south east of the Roman Forum in Italy. It was constructed in 82 AD shortly after the death of his older brother, Titus to commemorate Titus victories including the siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD (before Jesus time) . But Arc de Triomphe was the tallest triumphal arch in existence until the completion of the Monumento a la Revolucion in Mexico City in 1938, which is 67 metres high. The Arch of Triumph in Pyongyang, completed in 1982, is modeled on the Arc de Triomphe and is slightly taller at 60 m.

The Arc is located on the right bank of the Seine at the centre of a dodecagonal configuration of twelve radiating avenues. It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Emperor Napoleon at the peak of his fortunes. Laying the foundations alone took two years and, in 1810, when Napoleon entered Paris from the west with his bride Archduchess Marie-Louise of Austria, he had a wooden mock-up of the completed arch constructed. The architect, Jean Chalgrin, died in 1811 and the work was taken over by Jean-Nicolas Huyot. During the Bourbon Restoration, construction was halted and it would not be completed until the reign of King Louis-Philippe, between 1833 and 1836, by another 2 architects under the supervision of Hericart de Thury (a politician, scientist and mining engineer). On 15 December 1840, Napoleon's remains was brought back to France from Saint Helena. The Emperor’s deceased body was brought passed under it on their way to the final resting place at the Invalides. The body of Victor Hugo (a poet, novelist and dramatist) was exposed under the Arc during the night of 22 May 1885, prior to burial in the Pantheon.

Following its construction, the Arc de Triomphe became the rallying point of French troops parading after successful military campaigns and for the annual Bastille Day Military Parade. Famous victory marches around or under the Arc have included the Germans in 1871, the French in 1919, the Germans in 1940, and the French and Allies in 1944 and 1945. A United States postage stamp of 1945 shows the Arc de Triomphe in the background as victorious American troops march down the Champs-Elysees and U.S. airplanes fly overhead on 29 August 1944. After the interment of the Unknown Soldier, however, all military parades (including the aforementioned post-1919) have avoided marching through the actual arch. The route taken is up to the arch and then around its side, out of respect for the tomb and its symbolism. Both Hitler in 1940 and de Gaulle in 1944 observed this custom.

By the early 1960s, the monument had grown very blackened from coal soot and automobile exhaust, and during 1965–1966 it was cleaned through bleaching. In the prolongation of the Avenue des Champs-Elysees, a new arch, the Grande Arche de la Defense, was built in 1982, completing the line of monuments that forms Paris's Axe historique. After the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile, the Grande Arche is the third arch built on the same perspective.

The astylar (an architectural term given to a class of design in which neither columns nor pilasters are used for decorative purposes) is by Jean Chalgrin (1739–1811). It was design in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture (as in example of the triumphal Arch of Titus). Many other major academic sculptors of France are represented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe beside Jean Chalgrin. The main sculptures are not integral friezes but are treated as independent trophies applied to the vast ashlar masonry masses, not unlike the gilt-bronze appliques on Empire furniture.

In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major French victories in the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. The inside walls of the monument list the names of 660 people, among which are 558 French generals of the First French Empire; the names of those generals killed in battle are underlined. Also inscribed, on the shorter sides of the four supporting columns, are the names of the major French victories in the Napoleonic Wars. The battles that took place in the period between the departures of Napoleon from Elba to his final defeat at Waterloo are not included.

2 photos of the same are but with different camera, DSLR Tiger Eye vs Iphone 5 (below). The flame lit is visible in both photos, which is a good thing 

Inside the monument, a permanent exhibition conceived by the artist Maurice Benayoun and the architect Christophe Girault opened in February 2007. The steel and new media installation interrogates the symbolism of the national monument, questioning the balance of its symbolic message during the last two centuries, oscillating between war and peace. Another important thing to observe when coming to the avenue is Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I that has been placed beneath the Arc. Interred on Armistice Day 1920, it has the first eternal flame lit in Western and Eastern Europe since the Vestal Virgins' fire was extinguished in the fourth century. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified.

A ceremony is held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every 11 November on the anniversary of the armistice signed by the Entente Powers and Germany in 1918. It was originally decided on 12 November 1919 to bury the Unknown Soldier’s remains in the Pantheon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc de Triomphe. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on 10 November 1920, and put in its final resting place on 28 January 1921. The slab on top bears the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 meaning "Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918".

In 1961, American President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy paid their respects at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by French President Charles de Gaulle. After the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy, Mrs Kennedy remembered the eternal flame at the Arc de Triomphe and requested that an eternal flame be placed next to her husband's grave at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. President Charles de Gaulle went to Washington to attend the state funeral, and witnessed Jacqueline Kennedy lighting the eternal flame that had been inspired by her visit to France.

The history as narrated from the main source, Wikipedia. Thanks Wiki....

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