The Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile is the largest triumphal arc of the world and it forms the backdrop of the urban view of the city of Paris. This war monument stands on top of the hill of Chaillot at the center of a star shaped configuration. The star shaped configuration has twelve radiating avenues.
In 1806, Napoleon I came with the idea of a triumphal arch that is patterned after the arches of ancient Rome and dedicated to the glory and victory of his armies. The arch was designed by Jean François Thérèse Chalgrin and was finished in 1833. The Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile was inaugurated in 1836 by the French King Louis-Philippe.
The simple design and the immense size of the monument unmistakably mark it as a sculpture of the late 18th-century romantic neoclassicism. This triumphal arc also serves as a classic reminder that the architect Chalgrin was a pupil of Etienne Louis Boullée. This arch has now turned into an emblem of the French patriotism.
Since the year 1920, the tomb of France’s Unknown Soldier has been buried under this arch and the eternal flame commemorates the people dead in the two world wars. The fire is rekindled every evening at 06.30 pm. On every Armistice Day (Nov 11), the resident of the Republic lays a wreath on the monument. On French national day, a French military parade will start at the arch and will proceed down the Champs Elysées.
There are four huge relief sculptures at the base of the arc. These are the commemorate The Triumph of 1810, Resistance, Peace, and the Departure of the Volunteers, which is commonly called as La Marseillaise (by François Rude). On the day the battle of Verdun commenced, the sword that was carried by the figure that represents the Republic, broke off from La Marseillaise, but the relic was hidden immediately, to stop interpreting it as a bad omen.
You can see names of major victories won in Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods engraved on the top of the arch. You will also be able to see the names of less important victories and that of the generals engraved on the inside walls of the monument.