Arch of triumph

The huge arch stands in regal isolation in the middle of the square. Ordered by Napoleon to the Grand Army as a memorial, Chalgrin began it in 1806. Finished in 1836, it truly surpasses in Rome the Arch of Constantine in size and has one archway: it’s 147 feet broad and 164 feet high. On the faces of the arch are bas reliefs, the best known and the finest bit being that to the right, on the section of the arch facing the Champs Elysees, depicting the departure of the volunteers in 1792 and known as the Marseillaise ( F. Rude ).

While the shields sculpted in the loft bear the names of the significant conflicts the bas reliefs up celebrate the successes of Napoleon. Beneath the arch in 1920 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was set every evening, and its eternal flame is tended. In a little museum within the arch itself there’s a history of the monument.

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