“In Paris everybody wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator”.
Each country has something to offer. Some are noted for their advanced technology like Japan and US. Others are renowned as hometowns of biotic organisms promoted by rich ecological biodiversity like Indonesia, and our very own, Philippines. But as for Paris, infinity has defined its attractions. For many tourist, Paris is not only about the fashion trends and shopping sprees, nor the preserved tradition of French cuisine reflected in their gastronomic restaurants, but also the historical landmarks and architecture that sometimes serve as visual short hands in films like the “Eiffel tower”, and definitely the “Arc de Triomphe” from the movie: G.I. Joe, “The Rise of Cobra”.
Understanding the culture of a city also means browsing through the pages of its history. If you are one of the 44 million tourists that visit Paris each year, viewing the 164 ft Arc de Triomphe monument in the center of the city is just the right place for you to understand how the shopping capital of the world achieved its current development. Located on the right side of Siene at the origin of the dodecagonal contour of twelve radiating avenues, the triumphal arch commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 was designed by Jean Chalgrin to commemorate the emperor’s victorious battle. Sad to say, Napoleon banished before the megalithic structure was completed and in fact, it took 30 more years before the monument had its first view of Paris. The 12 streets that emanate from the center were named after the 12 French military leaders who fought side by side with Napoleon. The Neoclassical design of the arch was based from the Arch of Titus, ornamented with different reliefs that reflect Napoleon’s greatest conquests like the battle of Aboukir, Napoleons victory over the Turkish and the Battle of Austerliz, where Napoleon defeated the Austrians. Yet it is 35 meters higher than Titus’ arch, studies have shown that it has exactly the same proportions.
Beneath the tunnel vault of the arch lays “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” from World War I. After the occurrence of First World War from 1914 to 1918, many unidentified bodies were found, reaching up to 10 million carcasses. Following the bloody massacres, a movement arose to honor all those soldiers who sacrificed their life to protect their country. Thus, it resulted to the ceremonial commemmoration of the symbolic funeral of an “Unknown Soldier”. The tomb is primarily composed of an unidentified body that serves as a symbol for the entire unknown dead wherever they died, with an inscribed writing which means “known but to God only”. In Britain, the “Tomb of the Unknown Warrior” was built at Westminster Abbey. In Ukraine, a second tomb was created to commemorate “The Unknown Sailor”. But as for Paris, it lies beneath the Arc de Triomphe. Celebrated every November 11, the tomb carries a French inscription: “ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918” which means “Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918“.
For someone who always watch myth busters in Discovery Channel, this scene is not different from him/her. On July 14, 1919, marking the end of World War 1’s nightmare, the French military commanded a celebration to honor pilots as “heroes of the air”. In their rendezvous, the aviators decided to address this celebration by flying a plane through the Arc de Triomphe. And three weeks after the victory parade, with perfect timing and speed, Charles Godefroy was able to pass through the arch with a biplane. He did not have much clearance – the width of the Arc is 47.57 ft / 47’6’’ (14.50 m) yet with his undefinable skills he was able to fly through the colossal structure. Jacques Mortane, the journalist who was able to witness the event, had the breathtaking scene filmed and photographed.The authorities disapproved of the event and were afraid of it being imitated, but Godefroy escaped with only a warning.
For those gentlemen who plan the best wedding proposals for their future wife, proposing around the famous Napoleon’s triumphal arch during the holiday season is the best. During Christmas, the historical monument of Arc De Triomphe becomes enchanting and romantic. Lighted up by thousands of astonishing light like swarm of fireflies gathered, illuminating the center of the city, Paris, the city of lights, really proves its nickname. Competing for the prize of the most extravagant Christmas decoration annually, no one should really miss the holiday special of this monument. Just imagine how love floats around the city, and I’m pretty much sure that success will guarantee your proposal.
Arc de Triomphe in Paris is only one from the hundreds of attractions if offers. Defined by its historical legacy; colored by its cultural heritage; and renowned by its commercial industry, Paris, the city of light, is really a unique tourist destination to visit.
By: Neil Dela Mines(2011-42847)