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Arcul de Triumf
Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrLocated in the middle of a roundabout in the Nortern Bucharest, the Arcul de Triumf is one of the best known symbols of the Romanian capital city. Along with the Cathedral of the Crowning in Alba Iulia , the Mărăşeşti Mausoleum, the Cross of National Heroes on Mount Caraiman, and the Mausoleum in the Carol Park, the Triumphal Arch counts among the monuments as a reminder of Romania's participation in World War I on the Allies' side, at the end of which all Romanian territories were united.
History and ArchitectureProjected by Petre Antonescu , it was built between 1921 and 1922, and renovated in 1936. While not the first triumphal arch erected in Bucharest, the previous ones were only temporary, and commemorated various historical events in 1848, 1859, 1878, 1906 and 1918, but after World War I, the prospect of a permanent monument emerged. In 1922, during a parade honoring the Great Unification of Romania, the mayor of Bucharest proposed the erection of a wooden arch due to the fact that the previous one, built in 1918 was not water resistant. The new arch was to be upgraded to stone when the funds would permit. This initiative was criticized by many, including the composer, George Enescu, who wrote the mayor asking about the real arch. Therefore, on the occasion of King Ferdinand's crowning, the building process began, but due to the lack of time, only the skeleton was cast in concrete, the intricate bas-reliefs being worked in plaster, which due to weather caused an uncomfortable monument image for "Little Paris".
In 1932, following a paper article titled "An imperative duty", the arch's situation gained attention once again, and the authorities decided not to demolish it, like several public figures requested, but to replace the bas-reliefs with permanent ones made of stone and Ruşchiţa marble. The same architect, Petre Antonescu, gave it a more sober aspect this time. On the Southern facade, Mac Constantinescu and Constanting Baraschi each chiseled a representation of Victory, while on the northern facade you can see the allegories, "Bravery" by Ion Jalea and "Faith" by Constantin Baraschi, as well as two other "Victories" by Cornel Medrea and Dimitrie Onofrei.
The population, especially the societies of the former war veterans, have contributed to the construction with over 7 million RON. Once the funds gathered, the arch was first built in Deva out of granite in 1936, after the model of the Parisian Arc de Triomphe. It was inaugurated in Bucharest on December 1st 1936, exactly 18 years after the Great Union. The foundation measures 25 by 11.5 meters, and the monument is 9.5 meters wide. The arch is 27 meters high, built in rectangular shape with one opening. The models were executed by plastic artists, and ten Italian sculptors contributed to the Ruşchiţa marble manufacture. The pillars have internal stairs which lead to the top terrace.
With the communist regime, the Arch was mutilated again. The lateral royal proclamations have been removed, as well as King Ferdinand's effigies on the southern facade, as the royalty has opposed to the communist regime before its arrival. The missing pieces have been replaced by stone flower sculptures, which were removed after the 1989 revolution, and substituted with bronze medallions depicting King Ferdinand and his mother, Queen Maria, in almost identical fashion as the originals, with the exception of the inscriptions underneath.
VisitingThe arch hosts a small museum, which can be visited on special occasions, due to the fact that the arch is placed on an island in the middle of a very busy roundabout. However, construction is being undertaken at the moment near the arch, and starting March, an underground passage will allow tourists to visit the arch daily, free of charge. The visitors can see four exhibits: The Great War of National Reintegration (photography and film), The Heraldry of the Great Boyar Families (bronze effigies, photography), The Triumphal Arch in Images (photography and models), and The Great Union of 1918. The upper terrace can also be accessed, and offers a beautiful panorama.
How to Get ThereFrom downtown Bucharest, follow the main boulevard (Magheru, then Lascăr Catargiu), to the Victoriei Plaza (Piaţa Victoriei). From there, the Kiseleff Street will take you straight to the arch roundabout. Taxis are very cheap in Bucharest, but as alternatives, you can take the subway to the Aviatorilor Station, and then continue on foot along Kiseleff Street - it's a 10-minute walk. Buses that go to the Triumphal Arch are 131, 282, 330, 331, 335, and the night line 113. The station bears the same name.
Other AttractionsRoughly 10 minutes by cab from the arch, in downtown Bucharest, are two of the Romanian interwar period architectural jewels: the Royal Palace, now turned National Museum of Art, and the Romanian Athenaeum, located right across it, which hosts the Romanian Philharmonic Orchestra, a Neo-Classical edifice which shouldn't be missed even if you don't attend a concert. Further in the center stands imposing the House of Parliament, the largest structure in Europe, and second largest in the world.
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Author: aelumag. Last updated: Sep 19, 2014