Europe > Western Europe > France > Interesting Facts About The Arc de Triomphe

Interesting Facts About The Arc de Triomphe

By Melissa Reyes |

Visit the Triumphal Arch in Paris to commemorate the stories of victory, liberty and peace its architecture reminds us of.


Together with the worldly famous Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe is one of the most iconic monuments in the French capital. Actually, it’s like an older brother of the “Iron Lady” or Eiffel. After the celebration of an important victory during the Battle of the Three Emperors, Napoleon wanted to pay homage to the victories he had had next to the soldiers of the Grand Armée. That’s why, in 1806, he ordered the construction of a glorious monument that celebrated their return from battle. This monument was the Arc de Triomphe, which represented a promise Napoleon made the army that they’d be welcomed home by triumphal arches.

The architects and artists responsible fore making this project come to life were Jean Chalgrin and Jean-Arnaud Raymond, who drew inspiration from Titus Arch in Rome for the design of the French Arch. Their proposal ended up being a bit different to the original vision the emperor had had.


Did you know that the Arc de Triomphe was meant to be an elephant? Even if the final result was not so extravagant, the Arc de Triomphe became one of the main examples of French architecture.

There are four reliefs on each of its pillars. They represent the values and virtues of the French armed forces: “Triumph”, “Peace”, “Resistance” and “the Departure of the Volunteers” These sculptures were made by Antoine Étex and François Rude. On the inner walls you can find engraved the names of the battles won by Napoleon as well as those of the soldiers who fought for France. The names of the fallen in battle are underlined.

At the foot of the monument you’ll see the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers, which was added to honor the memory of those who died in the First World War, particularly those whose bodies were never identified or who went missing. Also in their honor, a votive light was lit and it’s never supposed to be put out.

DINKtravelers recommends stopping to admire each detail on the Arc de Triomphe because they all have a special meaning and an interesting story behind. The silver lining of this visit is that you can go inside the monument to visit a museum that exhibits documents and facts about its history. Another bonus is that you can climb up to the roof to enjoy a spectacular view of the Champs Élysées, and the Défense. Climbing up can be physically demanding, but it’s worth it, particularly after sunset.


Throughout its construction, the Arc de Trimphe witnessed many historical events. For example, Napoleon’s remains passed under it on their way to the Invalides, the Emperor’s resting place. Also, the body of the famous writer Victor Hugo was displayed under the Arc, and it was also from there that the French army departed from on its way to the First and Second World Wars.When you plan your trip, remember that every year on November 11th the Arc the Triomphe houses the celebration to commemorate the Armistice; the agreement between France and Germany that helped restore peace around the world.