What was the reason for the prolonged construction period of the Arc de Triomphe?

Tourist Attractions

By Caroline Lascom

The Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Paris, France. This iconic monument was constructed to commemorate the victories of Napoleon Bonaparte, and it’s located at the western end of the Champs-Élysées. This triumphal arch is one of the largest of its kind in the world, standing at 50 meters tall and 45 meters wide. The construction of the Arc de Triomphe was a monumental task that spanned several decades.

The Design and Planning of the Arc de Triomphe

The design of the Arc de Triomphe was inspired by ancient Roman architecture, and it was created by the French architect, Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin. The arch was to be adorned with intricate sculptures depicting important historical events and battles. The planning of the project began in 1806 after Napoleon’s victory at Austerlitz. It was decided that the arch would be built in the Place de l’Étoile, which was renamed Place Charles de Gaulle in 1970.

The Start of Construction: 1806

Construction of the Arc de Triomphe officially began in 1806 under the direction of Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin. The foundation was laid, and the first stone was set in place. However, construction was soon halted due to the ongoing Napoleonic Wars.

The Halting of Construction: 1814

In 1814, the defeat of Napoleon by the allied forces led to the halting of the construction of the Arc de Triomphe. The funds allocated for the project were redirected towards other post-war reconstruction efforts. The arch remained unfinished and neglected for almost a decade.

The Resumption of Construction: 1823

Construction of the Arc de Triomphe resumed in 1823, following the ascension of King Louis XVIII to the French throne. This time, the architect Jean-Nicolas Huyot took over the project’s supervision, after the death of Chalgrin in 1811.

The Death of Jean-François-Thérèse Chalgrin: 1811

Chalgrin, the original architect of the Arc de Triomphe, died in 1811, long before the completion of the arch. His death led to significant delays in the construction process, as new architects had to be appointed to oversee the project.

The Change of Architect: 1816

In 1816, after the death of Chalgrin, the French architect Louis-Robert Goust was appointed to take over the project. However, he was later replaced by Huyot in 1823.

The Impact of War on Construction: 1870

In 1870, the Franco-Prussian War had a major impact on the construction of the Arc de Triomphe. The arch was used as a military observation post, and the sculptures were covered to protect them from damage. The war led to a significant delay in the completion of the project.

The Financial Struggles of the Project

The construction of the Arc de Triomphe was plagued by financial troubles from the beginning. The cost of the project was estimated to be 9.3 million francs, but the actual cost ended up being much higher. The government had to constantly allocate more funds to the project in order to keep it going.

The Intricacy of the Sculptures on the Arc de Triomphe

The sculptures on the Arc de Triomphe are incredibly intricate and detailed. They depict important historical events and battles, including the Battle of Austerlitz and the Battle of Waterloo. The sculptures were created by a team of several artists, including François Rude, Antoine Étex, and James Pradier.

The Unveiling of the Arc de Triomphe: 1836

The Arc de Triomphe was finally completed and unveiled to the public on July 29, 1836, almost 30 years after its construction began. The unveiling was a grand event, attended by many dignitaries and members of the public.

The Legacy of the Arc de Triomphe

The Arc de Triomphe has become an iconic symbol of Paris and a popular tourist attraction. It’s also an important historical monument, representing the victories of Napoleon and the resilience of the French people. The arch has played a significant role in the city’s history, and it’s likely to continue to be an important landmark for many generations to come.

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Caroline Lascom

Caroline is a seasoned travel writer and editor, passionate about exploring the world. She currently edits captivating travel content at TravelAsker, having previously contributed her exceptional skills to well-known travel guidebooks like Frommer’s, Rough Guides, Footprint, and Fodor’s. Caroline holds a bachelor's degree in Latin American studies from Manchester University (UK) and a master's degree in literature from Northwestern University. Having traveled to 67 countries, her journeys have fueled her love for storytelling and sharing the world's wonders.

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