The World’s Love Of Triumphal Arches

the world's love of triumphal arches
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Travel allows you to witness many magnificent engineering and architectural structures. Some of the most prominent landmarks you will see in many cities around the world are huge monumental arches standing proudly. These are called triumphal arches, also known as memorial or honorific arches. It seems almost every country has one or more of these arches to commemorate events or individuals of great significance. Such as, battles won, soldiers lost, religious milestones, the royal family or royal visits, unification, and independence.

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The world’s love of triumphal arches is something I find quite fascinating because each one has a remarkable story behind it. As well as telling a story they were also used to mark conquered territory. 

I’m going to share some information about them and show you some of the famous triumphal arches, and some you may not have heard of, to inspire you to see them on your travels around the world. It’s interesting to visit these grand monuments when going to a new place. They don’t take a lot of time, are usually conveniently located and are free to visit.

History of Triumphal Arches

All through the ages, and across the globe, these architectural structures have been erected after hugely important events or milestones, to commemorate grand achievements or triumphs, hence the name triumphal arch. It’s a proud statement piece of the city and the nation, gracing the landscape to show the world.

In many cases the arch doesn’t really have a definite purpose as such, other than being ornamental.

In some instances the arch provides a formal gateway to the city.

Often it’s a central landmark standing all on its own in the middle of the city. However, sometimes they have been built in ridiculous places, such as in the middle of a huge roundabout, like the Arc de Triomphe.

As well as being a huge decorative feature, the triumphant arch has become an iconic tourist attraction that people flock to see and photograph.

Roman Arches

Triumphal arches were first built during ancient Rome to celebrate triumphant warriors, and symbolise power and greatness.

There are dozens of Roman arches still in existence around the world, remnants of the Roman Empire in Europe, Africa and Asia. Some of these are Trajan Arch in Algeria, Arch of Galerius in Greece and Arch of Hadrian in Jordan.

There were once 36 triumphal arches in ancient Rome, but only 3 of them exist in Rome today. They are Arch of Titus, Arch of Septimius Severus and Arch of Constantine, all found in the Roman Forum, Italy.

Most triumphal arches built after the Roman era have been modelled on Roman arches.

Details of Triumphal Arches

  • A triumphant arch is curved at the top of the opening, with supporting pillars and a rectangular tabletop style roof.
  • The roof often supports statues.
  • They are engineeringly stable and strong structures, constructed with a combination of materials, like sandstone, limestone, marble, cement, and steel.
  • Arches sometimes span across a road or pathway, or as a portal to pass through.
  • Usually the triumphal arch is a free-standing structure.
  • Often situated in an open area so that it stands out prominently on the landscape of the city.
  • Normally they are located in an important place, where a particular event occurred.
  • Some are attached to buildings on either side.
  • Many grand arches have smaller arches on the sides. Three arches together is quite common.
  • They often have elaborate cornices all around.
  • High vaults and attics are commonplace.
  • Triumphal arches are often decorated with mottoes, poems and sculptures gracing the facades, making them truly magnificent works of art.

Photos of Traditional Triumphal Arches

Take a look at these stunning arches from around the world. These are only some of the triumphal arches that exist, including a few of ancient Rome.

Other Monumental Arches

You may have seen other monumental arches, that are different to the Roman style. These are also honorific, freestanding arches, but modern in design. Technically, they aren’t true arches, as you can see below, they are parabolas or rectangles. There are even monumental arches of crossed swords in Iraq, elaborate oriental arches, and a beautiful dragon arch in Bali.

Fun Facts about Triumphal Arches around the world

Biggest – North Korea’s Pyongyang Arch of Triumph (60m high, 50m wide)

Tallest – Mexico’s Monument to the Revolution (67m tall)

Oldest – Rome’s Arch of Titus, built in 82 AD, still standing today.

Newest – Porta Macedonia, Skopje, North Macedonia, built in 2012.

Most arches – Italy.

The world really does love triumphal arches, as you can see, both old and new, traditional and modern. 

Today triumphal arches are used for events and processions, and of course are major tourist attractions. They are normally free to visit and walk around. So be sure to check them out up close.

Some, like the Arc de Triomphe, have public access to the top of the arch, for a small fee.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the world’s love of triumphal arches.

Which arches have you seen, or would like to see, on your travels? Leave me any comments below.

Thank you.

Snazzy Trips

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The world's love of triumphal arches

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2 thoughts on “The World’s Love Of Triumphal Arches

  1. skigrl985 says:

    Wow you’ve really put together a cool collection! The only arch I’ve seen (well, that I remember learning about) is Marble Arch in London. It was fun how there’s a history to each arch!

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