This triumphal arch was built to celebrate the Napoleonic victories of 1805 and was originally a grand entrance to the Tuileries Palace.
This arch and the Arc de Triomphe Arc de l’Étoile, its larger cousin to the west on the Paris ‘Axe historique’, commemorate the efforts and losses of French soldiers during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The larger Arc and the Luxor Obelisk are clearly visible from below this Arc.
Triumphal arches have their origin in Ancient Rome and were built to commemorate great battles or military victories. Often these were built over roadways and served as gateways to cities or neighborhoods. They often were adorned with bas-reliefs and sculptures which depicted military leaders and soldiers.
This arch is modeled after the Arch of Septimius Severus in Rome. The Arch was originally topped with the “Horses of Saint Mark’s” which was taken from the Basilica in Venice by Napoleon. The sculpture group was returned after Napoleon’s fall and was replaced with similar horse sculptures, an allegorical sculpture depicting a military leader, and figures on the ends depicting victory and peace.
There are a number of bas-reliefs on all four sides of the Arch which depict several events:
- East Facade: ”The Surrender at Ulm” and “The Battle of Austerlitz”
- North Facade: ”Napoleon Entering Munich” and “Napoleon Bringing Back the King of Bavaria”
- West Facade: ”Napoleon Entering Vienna” and “The Meeting of the two Emperors”
- South Facade: ”The Peace of Presbourg”
The Arch is surrounded by a simple sand-colored gravel plaza which helps to accentuate its colors, textures, and vertical scale. Originally this Arch served as part of the entrance to the Tuileries Palace, but it was burnt down in 1871. The Arch was not damaged and was not removed with the remainder of the Palace.
If You Go:
The Arc de Triumphe du Carrousel is located between the Tuileries Garden and the Louvre Museum. It is worth spending some time to observe the intricate neoclassical detailing and impressive bas-reliefs.
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