Striking monuments of Paris you must see
Paris, the French capital, is the leading destination in many ways. It boasts some of the world’s most extraordinary museums, beautiful French-styled parks, engaging shopping opportunities and premium entertainment. While any of these will keep you pretty much occupied, take some time and examine noteworthy monuments that you will come across. You can find a lot of those throughout Paris, and the following ones are just a handful of them.
The iconic Tour Eiffel was built on a centenary of the French Revolution (1889) to impress the Word Fair’s visitors while marking the entrance. Its presence strongly irritated most of Paris residents because its design widely differed from the city’s layout. It was even supposed to be dismantled, with a radio transmitter being the only thing that prevented the disassembling.
The Tour Eiffel is the world’s most visited paid monument, allowing you to take history lessons through the interactive content, appreciate marvelous panoramic views of Paris and feel swings caused by strong gusts at its top level. At night, the monument is beautifully illuminated, featuring a grand light show around every full hour before 1 a.m.
Arc de Triomphe
The “Triumphal Arch”, which inspired the creation of various similar structures worldwide, was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte. After the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, where the French defeated the Austrians and Russians, Napoleon promised to his soldiers to march back home under triumphal arches. And, here we are.
However, the initial design was altered because the Arc de Triomphe was completed after Napoleon’s final downfall (1815). Nevertheless, its artwork illustrates Napoleon as a key figure along with fateful events of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. From the monument’s top, you can examine the panorama of Paris. Significant victories are inscribed on the shields adorning the top of the arch. Between the Arc de Triomphe’s arches, a tomb of an unknown soldier commemorates casualties of the First World War (1914-1918).
Obelisque de Louxor
The Egyptian obelisk, located in the middle of the Place de la Concorde, is the oldest existing monument on European soil. The Cleopatra’s Needle, as it is fondly referred to, is over 3000 years old and it used to decorate the entrance to the Ramses II Temple, in Luxor. It was gifted to France in 1829 for its part in deciphering hieroglyphs.
The obelisk’s shape symbolizes the sun god Ra, and its engravings depict the reign of Ramses II. Just before the Cleopatra’s Needle was taken to France, there was a debate which side between the French and British (fierce opponents back then) should have the Luxor and which the Alexandrian obelisk. Only the French scientist Champollion realized that the Alexandrian monument can’t be transported due to transportation limits of that time, and convinced the British to pick that one.
Napoleon’s Tomb, Les Invalides
Within the Eglise du Dome of the Les Invalides, whose dome glitters in the sunlight, you can find Napoleon Bonaparte’s tomb. Although the world remembers him mostly as a conqueror, he was a person revered by the French, who brought order to troubled France.
The tomb consists of six coffins, and is surrounded by 12 female Winged Victory figures. Some of Napoleon’s successful campaigns are inscribed on the floor. As you descend to the lower level, you can examine bas-reliefs illustrating Napoleon as a legislator, providing insight into the laws inaugurated by him. His legal code is still in use.
The Vendome Column, the centerpiece of the homonymous square, is another striking monument of Paris. The monument’s height is 44 meters, and its top is adorned by a statue of a Roman Emperor; at least, the first glance suggests so. In fact, the statue is the representation of Napoleon, who underlined symbolic connections between himself and Roman emperors.
That isn’t the half of it, however, which you will realize once you look closely at the monument’s body. The spiraled bas-reliefs that climb from the base to the top illustrate the emperor’s military victories achieved from 1805 to 1807. Those were cast from Austrian and Russian cannons (1200 of them) captured at Austerlitz.
Jeanne d’Arc monument
The gilded monument of the big French heroine adorns a small square in Rue Rivoli, between the Jardin des Tuileries and the Louvre. The statue introduces an armored young girl on a horseback, wielding a flag. Jeanne was a key figure of the Hundred Years’ War, fought between the French and the English. She was barely 17 years old when her involvement shattered the English siege of Orleans (1429), which ended the string of heavy French defeats.
Under her leadership, the demoralized French army regained its confidence, which led to the liberation of Reims. In the traditional crowning place of the French kings, a new king was crowned. Ultimately, the Maid of Orleans was betrayed and captured, being burnt on the stake by the English at the age of 21.
Fontaine de l’Observatoire
A grand monument that adorns the splendid Jardin du Luxembourg is among Paris’s very finest. It is a marvelous fountain, in fact, which features statues of horses, dolphins and turtles. However, the monument’s centerpiece is a sculptural composition that tops the fountain.
The 4 female figures hold a globe above their heads, representing European, American, Asian and African continents. Take a look at the right foot of an American woman, the one that wears a crown. She steps on a chain that is connected to the joint of the African woman, symbolizing the abolition of the slavery.
Grande Arche de la Defense
The grand monument, which is perfectly aligned with the Arc de Triomphe, is astounding 110 meters tall, wide and deep! If it doesn’t seem a big deal, then probably the fact that it could accommodate the Notre Dame Cathedral (without the spire, though) within its arch does. The monument marks the end of the Axe Historique (also called La Voie Triumphale or the Triumphal Way), which encompasses the famous Triumphal Arch, the Place de la Concorde and the Champs-Elysees.
Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is among the most underrated Paris monuments. Located at the beginning of the Axe Historique, it is ‘only’ 20 meters tall, which is perhaps the reason why it is overlooked by people rushing to the Louvre Museum.
Unlike the Arc de Triomphe, its famous relative, this arch was actually completed during Napoleon’s reign. The monument’s artwork depicts Napoleon’s military and diplomatic achievements, and is adorned with the statues of the Napoleonic army corps. Dragoons (light cavalry), sappers (engineers), riflemen and gunners are some represented. The sculpture atop the arch is credited to the monument’s name. It is a copy of the Horses of Saint Mark’s, which were looted from Venice once the French army entered the city and taken back after Napoleon’s downfall.
Other interesting monuments of Paris
The statue of Charlemagne, next to the Notre Dame Cathedral, honors the great king of the Franks. During his reign, Europe began to emerge from the so-called European Dark Age. Charlemagne was also the first emperor of the newly-established Holy Roman Empire, the one which was dissolved by Napoleon after the Battle of Austerlitz.
While visiting Montmartre, try to locate monuments to Saint Denis, the patron saint of France, and Dalida, an unhappy celebrity. While headless Saint Denis holds his head, you will notice that Dalida’s breasts are worn. This is due to a belief that whoever touches her breasts will be happy in love forever.