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Paris - Ile De France

Porte Saint-Denis, a triumphal arch for Louis XIV

This page was updated on: Monday, August 19, 2019 at: 4:25 pm

Porte Saint-Denis, a triumphal arch

Porte Saint-Denis is located on the Grands Boulevards, at the intersection of rue Saint-Denis, Boulevard Saint-Denis and Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle.

As so many believe, Porte Saint-Denis is not an old fortified gate.

It's one of two triumphal arches that commemorate Louis XIV's military victories on the Rhine and in Franche-Comté.

The Sun King indeed commissioned the architect Blondel with its construction in 1672.

As its counterpart Porte Saint-Martin, it stands farther north from the three previous and successive fortified Porte Saint-Denis.

However, its architecture is more elaborate, as Blondel modeled it on the Arch of Titus in Rome.

Its dimensions are also more impressive: 25m high and wide; the central arch is more than 15m high and 8m wide and the lateral arches are more than 3m high and nearly 2m wide.

South Facade

Michel Anguier sculpted the central low-relief that depicts The Passage du Rhin at Tholus.

Two allegorical sculptured characters, based on a drawing by Le Brun, are sat at the foot of each obelisk and trophies that frame the central arch.

These allegories symbolize the United Provinces; Holland is represented as a defeated woman, and the Vanquished Rhine as a man.

The base of the arch bears the following Latin inscription:

"QUOD DIEBUS VIX SEXAGINTA RHENUM WAHALIM MOSAM ISALAM SUPERAVIT SVBEGIT PROVINCIAS TRES CEPIT URBES MUNITAS QUADRAGINTA"

'Louis the Great crossed the Rhine, the Waal, the Meuse, the Ijssel, he conquered three provinces, took forty strongholds in less than sixty days'

North facade

The north facade commemorates the capture of Maastricht and bears the following engraved Latin dedication:

"QUOD TRAIECTUM AD MOSAM XIII DIEBUS CEPIT"

'Louis XIV seized Maastricht in thirteen days. Ludovico magno - To Louis the Great' is carved at the top of the monument.

A marble slab engraved in Latin with the date of construction of the Porte Saint-Denis is placed at the base of each facade:

"PREFECTUS ET AEDILES PONI CC ANNO DOMINI M D C LXXII"

The Porte Saint-Denis was classified Historic Monument in 1862 and fully restored in 1988.

Directions: 10th district
Metro: Strasbourg-Saint-Denis
Coordinates: Lat 48.869805 - Long 2.352695

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