triumphal arch

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triumphal arch,

monumental structure embodying one or more arched passages, frequently built to span a road and designed to honor a king or general or to commemorate a military triumph. This form of monument was probably invented by the Romans, who built them throughout the empire. Examples exist in Italy, France, Spain, Asia Minor, and North Africa, dating from the empire. The typical Roman triumphal arch had a single arched opening in the earliest examples, e.g., the Arch of Titus, Rome (A.D. 81); after the 2d cent. a large arch flanked by two smaller ones became common. The piers were faced with columns and enriched with sculptures or bas-reliefs relating to the events commemorated, while above the entablature was an attic story for dedicatory inscriptions supporting a quadriga, a sculptured four-horse chariot group. Among the Roman arches remaining are that of Trajan, at Benevento, Italy (114), relating the story of the emperor's life, and those of Septimius Severus (203) and of Constantine (c.315) at Rome, honoring the military victories of the two emperors. In modern times some arches have been built to celebrate military triumphs. Among them in Paris are the Porte Saint-Denis and the Porte Saint-Martin, both erected under the reign of Louis XIV, and the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel and the Arc de Triomphe de l'ÉtoileArc de Triomphe de l'Étoile
, 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.
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, both built at the decree of Napoleon I. Other well-known arches are the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin; the Victory Gate in Munich; the Marble Arch in London; and the Washington Arch in New York City.

Triumphal arch

An arch commemorating the return of a victorious army, usually located along the line of march during a triumphal procession.

Triumphal Arch


or gate, temporary or permanent monumental arched gate erected in commemoration of a great event. It has one or three spans covered by semicylin-drical vaults crowned with an entablature and a parapet wall and decorated with statues, bas-reliefs, and dedicative inscriptions. The triumphal arch originated in ancient Rome to celebrate the ceremonial entry of a victor—the arches of Titus (81), Septimius Severus (203), Constantine (315). Arches of the same style have been constructed in Paris on the Place du Carrousel (1806; architects, C. Persier and P. Fontaine) and Place de l’Etoile (1806–1837; architect, J. F. Chalgrin). In Russia triumphal arches were first built at the time of Peter I and were erected in commemoration of great military victories, such as the Triumphal Arch in Moscow (1827–34; architect, O. I. Bove; restored on Kutuzov Prospect in 1968) and the Narva Triumphal Arch in Leningrad (1833; architect, V. P. Stasov).


Vseobshchaia istoriia arkhitektury, vol. 2, book 2. Moscow, 1948.

triumphal arch

An arch commemorating the return of a victorious army, usually in the line of march during its triumphal procession.