instead of taking the elevator and going up in the Eiffel Tower, Becca and I climbed the 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
totally worth it. again.
I first climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe at the age of 16, while visiting Paris at the beginning of a three-week tour with classmates from West. following the organized morning activity, Leah and I spent our afternoon at liberty walking from the Place de la Concorde, up the Champs Elysee, to the foot of the Arc de Triomphe, where we met up with the remainder of the group several hours later. a pair of American teenagers (and looking very much the part) meandering along the most famous boulevard in France, window shopping and commenting on the locals. the sun was setting as we reached the top, and I’ve got a fun picture of a group of us with the Tour Eiffel in the background, the sky fading to indigo at the horizon. (but not scanned onto my computer.)
View Larger Map
(really, what did we do before google maps?! my mental map of Paris would be even better than it already is …)
the Arc de Triomphe stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle and is the linchpin of the axis historique, a sequence of monuments and thoroughfares that runs from the heart of the Louvre to the outskirts of the city. it stands 50m high (160ft) and is the second highest triumphal arch in existence. after the victory parade following the end of World War I, a pilot flew his biplane through the center of the arch. it was commissioned in 1806 by Napoleon following his success at Austerlitz. during the Bourbon Restoration, construction on the Arc was halted, and it was not completed until the reign of Louis-Philippe in 1836.
the body of Victor Hugo lay out overnight in 1885 before he was buried in the Panteon. beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the First World War, inscribed with the phrase ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 (“Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918”), which is also the site of the first eternal flame lit in Europe since the Vestal Virgin’s flame was extinguished in 394 CE.
the second time I visited the Arc de Triomphe, Becca and I climbed to the top as night fell. as it was mid-November, it grew dark well before the laser show put on at the Tour Eiffel, but we enjoyed all the lights offered by the City of Light. we climbed the 294 steps to the top and thoroughly enjoyed the panoramic view of nighttime Paris.
more, including information about the art and architecture from Wikipedia
while we’re on the subject of cemeteries, I thought I’d write about my favorite cemetery in San Diego County — the one at Fort Rosecrans on Point Loma.
Point Loma was one of the first places that I visited when I went to San Diego the first time in April of 2006. resting as it does on the ridge of the peninsula, the cemetery has spectacular views of both the San Diego Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. the cemetery and military base of which it is a part were named after a Union general from the Civil War, William Starke Rosecrans. the cemetery has a surprisingly long history — participants in the Battle of San Pasqual (about which more later) were re-interred (after initially being buried where they fell) at the military cemetery in 1874.
some other notable residents of the cemetery include a slew of Medal of Honor recipients (the most recent of which received the honor in 2006, but the last one before that was in the 1960s). also, a Major Reuben Fleet, a WWI aviator and perhaps now best known as patron of the Reuben H. Fleet Space Theater and Science Center in Balboa Park. another well-known name in San Diego: Major General Joseph H. Pendleton is buried at Fort Rosecrans. he graduated from the US Naval Academy and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1884. he rose to the rank of colonel and, in mid-1914 after arriving in San Diego, began advocating for the establishment of a major Marine Corps installation in the area due to the weather and harbor. he retired in 1924 and settled in Coronado, where he served as mayor for a time. he died in 1942 and later the same year, construction began on the Pendleton Marine Corps Base outside of Oceanside.
the grounds became a National Cemetery in 1934 and, while they still have room for cremated remains, the only room for caskets is in sites shared by previously interred family members.
info from Fort Rosecrans on Wikipedia and from the VA
the stop on the Boston Freedom Trail preceding the King’s Chapel and Burial Grounds is the Granary Burying Grounds, final resting place of many of the more famous Revolutionary figures. Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Robert Treat Paine (three of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), Mother Goose, are all interred here. some estimate that as many as 8,000 people are buried in the grounds — and these grounds are not particularly large! the area isn’t any bigger than the footprint for your standard-size downtown office skyscraper. the ground was initially part of the Boston Common, which lies some 200 feet away, now separated by the Park Street Church. that portion of land was taken over for the construction of public buildings, including a “house of correction” and the granary, for which the burying ground became known. (there was an effort in the early 19th century to rename the grounds in honor of Benjamin Franklin’s family. we can see how well that worked for them.)
the cemetery next to the King’s Chapel Unitarian Church in Boston is a prime example of what comes to mind when I think of a place with the weight of history.
stop number 5/6 on the Freedom Trial, the burial ground is the oldest in the city and was established in 1630. for thirty years, it was the only cemetery in the city of Boston and the remains of many notable 17th century Bostonians are apparently buried here. (the Granary Burying Ground, a few blocks away, founded in 1660, has more notable Revolutionary-era interments.)
this is the headstone of Joseph Tapping and, while more intricate than many other headstones in the ground, captures the tone of memorial stones of the period. and quite unlike someone in the twenty-first century might elect to put on their grave. on the face of the stone, a skeleton and Father Time battle over the eventuality of death. dead at 25 in 1678. from what I recall, he wasn’t much of a noteworthy at the time, but the elaborateness of his stone marks him out from all the other graves in the grounds. the image of death or a skeleton or Father Time was common on on markers of this period, but none that I saw matched the detail or artistry of Tapping’s.
for many years, it was believed that William Dawes rested in a tomb in the King’s Chapel Burial Grounds. along with Paul Revere and Samuel Prescott, Dawes was tasked by Dr. Joseph Warren to ride from Lexington to Boston to warn local militias of British troop movements, allowing them to mobilize — the famous midnight ride that kicked off the Revolutionary War and resulted in colonial victories in the Battles of Lexington and Concord. there’s a prominent tomb with an inscription honoring Dawes at the ground beside the King’s Chapel, but it has recently been uncovered that he might have been removed and re-interred in his wife’s tomb at Forest Hill in Jamaica Plain. urban sprawl has forced the relocation of many Revolutionary-era dead and, and might include Dawes. records at Forest Hill refer to a William Dawes (who died in 1799 as did Revere’s companion) whose remains were relocated from the Boylston Street Burial Grounds in 1882, but there is apparently no mention as to from the original location of the remains. some contend that he was never buried in the King’s Chapel grounds at all and that, in a fit of Revolutionary fervor, the Sons of the Revolution affixed a plaque honoring the midnight riders to the tomb of Dawes’ grandfather.
the full article from the Boston Globe on Dawes’ disposition is here.