The famous Arc de Triomphe, located at the western end of the Champs-Elysees in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, formerly the Place de L'Etoile. This massive triumphal arch was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon to commemorate his victory at Austerlitz. It was originally inspired by the ancient Roman Arch of Titus, located at the entrance to the Roman Forum. The relief sculptures at the bases of the four pillars depict the Triumph of 1810, Peace and Resistance and the Departure of the Volunteers, or La Marseillaise, created by Francois Rude. The names of other major victories won during the Revolution are carved around the top of the arch, as are the names of 558 generals on the interior walls, so it serves as a type of memorial to the fallen also; names which are underlined indicate those who died in action. Beneath the arch lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and an eternal flame, commemorating those killed in both World Wars. According to one source, JFK and first lady Jacqueline visited the site accompanied by President Charles de Gaulle, and after Kennedy's assassination Jackie Kennedy remembered the eternal flame there and requested that one also be placed at her husband's grave at the Arlington National Cemetery. de Gaulle was present at the state funeral and thus witnessed her lighting the eternal flame inspired by their visit. The immense monument stands 165 feet high and is more than 120 feet wide. There are 246 steps to the top! or you can take an elevator. It is the second largest triumphal arch in existence; evidently an even larger one was built in North Korea (!), of all places, to commemorate the 70th birthday of Kim Il-Sung in 1982! The Arc de Triomphe was completed in 1836.
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