The Arc de Triomphe is one the most emblematic monuments in Paris. Ordered by Napoleon to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz, its construction began in 1806 and was completed in 1836. There was debate about the site, but the Place de l'Étoile was finally chosen for its visibility, at the end of the Avenue des Champs Élysées. From its inauguration, the famous monument to the armies of the Republic and the Empire became a focus for patriotism.
In 1921, to honour combatants who fell for their country during the First World War, an Unknown Soldier was buried beneath the arch and decorated with the Légion d'honneur. On 11 November 1923, the eternal flame of remembrance was lit by the Minister for War, André Maginot, and has been re-lit every day since.
Inspired by the arch of Roman Emperor Titus, the Parisian Arc de Triomphe is a single arch and differs from its model in having no columns, but above all by its size, being three times taller.
Four high-relief sculptures adorn the pillars, evoking important events of the French Revolution and Empire. Higher up there are bas-reliefs that show famous episodes from the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, while the attic is decorated by 30 shields engraved with the names of great battles. The monument is open to the public and can be visited with or without a tour, guided by a lecturer from the Centre for National Monuments. The attic chamber contains several exhibits presenting the history of the monument's construction and providing a key to how to interpret the sculptures. From the platform at the top the view down the Champs Élysées and across Paris is truly impressive.