Audio File length: 3.17
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English Language: English

Now go under the arch and stand in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with its eternal flame that is rekindled every evening by ex-servicemen's associations. The headstone commemorates the unknown soldiers who died in The Great War, to which those lost in the Second World War have been added, and as you can see, the locations of the great battles of the Revolution and the Empire are engraved on the inner surfaces of the column. The inscriptions on the inner surfaces of the small arches record the names of hundreds of important figures from the same period. You will notice that some of the names are underlined; these are the ones who died in combat.

Now go round to the other side of the monument, the side facing theAvenue de la Grande Armée, and observe the title on the left-hand column,  "La Paix de 1815" (Peace of 1815) in high relief, surmounted by "La prise d'Alexandrie le 3 juillet 1798" (The taking of Alexandria on 3 July 1798) in bas-relief, and on the right-hand column in high relief "La résistance de 1814" (The resistance of 1814) beneath "Le passage du pont d'Arcole le 15 novembre 1796" (The crossing of the Arcole bridge, 15 November 1796) in bas-relief.

Now go to the side facing Avenue Kléber and admire the bas-relief of "La bataille de Jemappes le 6 novembre 1792" (The battle of Jemappes, 6 November 1792). On the opposite side facing Avenue de Wagram, you'll find the largest bas-relief: "La bataille d'Austerlitz 2 décembre 1805" (The battle of Austerlitz, 2 December 1805) -  the well-known historic victory for which the Arc de Triomphe was originally constructed.

If you are physically fit and feel like climbing almost three hundred steps, take the spiral staircase up to the museum inside. As well as finding out more about its history and architecture, you'll be able to see the decorative details from up close on a giant screen, using a little joystick in the shape of a mini Arc de Triomphe that you can navigate at your own pace!

A few steps further up you'll come to a panoramic terrace adorned with thirty shields. If you look out over the balcony on top of the arch, you'll understand why the Place de l'Étoile is called "Square of the Star": there are 12 principal avenues radiating out from the central point, which bear the names of battles or military figures linked to the history of revolutionary and imperial France.

 

FUN FACT: one of the names inscribed on the Arc de Triomphe is that of General Cambronne, who had a peculiar destiny. Although he was a brave soldier, he has gone down in history for the word he uttered when the Battle of Waterloo was finally lost: "Merde!" he replied to the English soldiers who ordered him to surrender.

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