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Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile

Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile (ärk də trēôNfˈ də lātwälˈ) [key], imposing triumphal arch in Paris standing on an elevation at the end of the Avenue des Champs Élysées and in the center of the Place de l'Étoile, which is formed by the intersection of 12 radiating avenues. It commemorates the victories of Napoleon I, under whose decree it was built. Construction was begun in 1806 by J. F. Chalgrin from his own designs and was carried on after his death by L. Goust, J. N. Huyot, and G. A. Blouet successively, who brought the arch to completion in 1836. It is 164 ft (50 m) high, 148 ft (45 m) wide, and 72 ft (22 m) deep, with colossal symbolic groups flanking the arch. The principal sculpture, La Marseillaise, was executed by François Rude. In 1920 the body of an unknown French soldier of World War I was interred beneath the arch, and a perpetual flame was lighted.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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