Monday, July 29, 2013

July 29 - L'Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated on July 29, 1836, in Paris, at La Place de l'Étoile, now also known as La Place Charles de Gaulle. The “Triumphal Arch” honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and in the Napoleonic Wars. It was commissioned in 1806 by Emperor Napoleon at the zenith of his political and military success, after he defeated the Russo-Austrian army at the Battle of Austerlitz (in what is now the Czech Republic). Laying the Arc’s immense foundations took two years. The structure consists of a simple central arch with a vaulted passageway (98 feet high and 49 feet wide) topped by a viewing terrace. The names of all French victories and generals are inscribed on the Arc’s inner and outer surfaces, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I lies beneath the vault. Every evening a flame is revived there. The most famous of the Arc’s four sculptural reliefs, showing French volunteers rallying against foreign enemies, became known as "La Marseillaise" for the French national anthem, written in 1792.

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