Wikipedia said:The Arc de Triomphe is a monument in Paris that stands in the centre of the Place de l'Étoile, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. It is the linch-pin of the historic axis (L'Axe historique) leading from the courtyard of the Louvre Palace, a sequence of monuments and grand thoroughfares on a route leading out of Paris. Its iconographic program pitted heroically nude French youths against bearded Germanic warriors in chain-mail and set the tone for public monuments with triumphant nationalistic messages until World War I.
The monument stands over 50 metres (200 feet) in height. It is the largest triumphal arch in existence, so colossal that an early dare-devil flew his plane through it.
It was commissioned in 1806 after the victory at Austerlitz by Napoleon Bonaparte at the peak of his fortunes and finally completed— after a long pause during the Restauration— in the reign of King Louis-Philippe, in 1833 - 36. The sculpture representing Peace was now interpreted as commemorating the Peace of 1815— not the original intention.
The astylar design is by Jean Chalgrin (1739-1811), in the Neoclassical version of ancient Roman architecture. Major academic sculptors of France are repesented in the sculpture of the Arc de Triomphe: Cortot, Rude, Etex, Pradier and Lemaire. 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 appliqués on Empire furniture. The four sculptural groups at the base of the Arc are The Triumph of 1810 (Cortot), Resistance and Peace (both by Antoine Etex ) and the Departure of the Volunteers of '92 commonly called La Marseillaise (Francois Rude, illustration below right).
In the attic above the richly sculptured frieze of soldiers are 30 shields engraved with the names of major Revolutionary and Napoleonic military victories. The inside walls of the monument list the names of 558 French generals. The names of those who died in battle are underlined.
The Place de l'Étoile was extensively redesigned by Baron Haussmann, who increased the number of avenues radiating from this star to twelve/thirteen. The sword carried by the Republic in the Marseillaise relief broke off, on the day, it is said, that the Battle of Verdun began in 1916. The relief was immediately hidden by tarpaulins to conceal the accident and avoid any undesired ominous interpretations.
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War, interred here on Armistice Day 1920, has the first eternal flame lit since the Vestal Virgins' fire was extinguished in 492 CE. It burns in memory of the dead who were never identified, now in both World Wars. France took the example of the United Kingdom's tomb of The Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey. A ceremony is held there every November 11 on the anniversary of the armistice signed between France and Germany in 1918. The unknown soldier's remains were originally decided in November 12, 1919 to be buried in the Panthéon, but a public letter-writing campaign led to the decision to bury him beneath the Arc. The coffin was put in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc on November 10, 1920, and put in its final resting place on January 28, 1921. The slab on top carries the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914-1918 ("Here lies a French soldier who died for his country 1914-1918").
he Tour de France race culminates here every year.
Pedestrian access to the Arc de Triomphe is via an underpass. Metro access: Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile. From the top there is an excellent view of all of Paris, of the thirteen major avenues leading to the Arc and of the exceptionally busy roundabout in which the Arc lies.