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It is the south/ north view of the Arch of Triumph located in Bucharest.

It is a massive stone structure of parallelipipedic shape with a 25 × 11.5m foundation and a height of 27m, with a lot of sculpted details, as follows:

The south facade, to the right, under the shape of a full circle, shows the effigy of His Majesty King Ferdinand I of Romania as the military victories during the World War I and the Great Union on the 1st of December took place during his reign.

The south facade, to the left, under the shape of a full circle, shows the effigy of Her Majesty Queen Marie of Romania, famous for her involvement in World War I.

On the south facade, on the top side, represented as vertical lines, the following words were carved in stone: AFTER CENTURIES OF CHRISTIAN-BORNE SUFFERING AND HARD BATTLE TO PRESERVE THE NATION AFTER THE SACRIFICE-FILLED DEFENCE OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION JUSTICE FINALLY CAME FOR THE ROMANIAN PEOPLE THROUGH KING FERDINAND’S SWORD WITH THE HELP OF THE ENTIRE NATION AND QUEEN MARIE’S THOUGHT.

The north facade shows on the right side the medalion with a man holding a sword, called Faith, and on the left side another medalion called Bravery.

The top side of the north facade is inscribed with: NATION LIBERATOR AND BOUNDARY REBUILDER THROUGH THE VIRTUE OF HIS SOLDIERS WORTHY HEIRS OF THE CHRISTIAN HEROES FERDINAND I RULER AND KING OF ROMANIANS ENTERED ITS BUCHAREST CAPITAL ON 16 OCTOBER 1922 AFTER THE ALBA-IULIA CORONATION.

The central inscription on the eastern facade, not represented in this tactile image, is dedicated to the politicians and literary figures that made the Union possible: ”GLORY TO THOSE WHO THROUGH THE LIGHT OF THEIR MIND AND THE POWER OF THEIR SOUL PREPARED THE NATIONAL UNION”.

The central inscription on the western facade commemorates the war heroes who fought for the union: ”GLORY TO THOSE WHO THROUGH THEIR BRAVERY AND BLOOD SACRIFICE MADE THE NATION UNION POSSIBLE”.

The list of the places where battles were fought in WW I is placed on the inside of the Arch: “CERNA”, “JIU OLT”, “DRAGOSLAVE”, “NEAJLOV”, “OITUZ”, “MĂRĂȘTI”, “MĂRĂȘEȘTI”, “RĂZOARE”, “VRANCEA”, “MUNCELU”, “COȘNA”, “BUDAPEST”

The Romanian coat of Arms from 1921 is represented by two symmetrical basoreliefs underneath the Arch.

A stylized form of the steel crown is also present.

 

Historical information

The present Arch of Triumph in Bucharest, a representative monument reminding the Great Union, was built in several stages. In 1922, the year when King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were crowned as rulers of Great Romania, Romanian authorities decided to build a “genuine Arch of Triumph” and assigned the project to architect Petre Antonescu (1). Its construction was part of the measures taken for the festivities of coronation. According to Constantin Kirițescu, “it was decided that, besides the Alba Iulia cathedral, where the coronation ceremony was held, an Arch of Triumph should be erected on Kiseleff road in Bucharest”. It is the place, according to the historian, the triumphal entrance of the first king of reunited Romania” took place on 16 October 1922 (2). Kirițescu also mentions that an intermediary solution was chosen, i.e. to build the foundation and the inner skeleton out of reinforced concrete, and to use “makeshift materials” for the “outer façade”, including the decorations and inscriptions (3).

Later they were to be replaced with “definitive materials”, but this was continuously postponed. An explanation for this procrastination may be the economic crisis of 1929-1933 affecting Romania, which had negative consequences on this monument, such as the dilapidated aspect brought about by the weather conditions and the carelessness of the Bucharest authorities. The same Constantin Kirițescu discusses the aspect that had started to scandalize the inhabitants of the capital: “the Arch of Triumph, reduced to its concrete skeleton, where here and there hung pieces of degraded materials, had started to look like a ruin” (4). Diana Toea concludes that this deplorable appearance had transformed the Arch of Triumph in a “shame for the image of the Little Paris in the interwar period” (5).

The work on the Arch of Triumph was resumed under the rule of King Carol II who, according to the same Constantin Kirițescu, “has seen it through” (6). The present form of the monument dates back from December 1st1936, when it was inaugurated in the presence of King Carol II and other official representatives (7). It is 27 meters high, and the foundation measures 300 square meters.The inspiration is the “old Romano-Balkan architecture”. Kirițescu says that the new construction included at least 1000 cubic meters of stone, brought from the most important Romanian Quarries. At the inauguration moment, the effigies of King Ferdinand I and Queen Marie were carved on the “city-facing façade of the two pillars”, and on the opposite façade there are other two effigies aimed at representing “the two virtues that led to complete victory the king and queen of reshaped Romania”, i.e. Bravery and Faith (8). According to Constantin Kirițescu, on the facades of the Arch – looking to Bucharest, Băneasa and the sides– there were in 1936 several inscriptions reminding of the WW I and the Great Union, written by the historian Nicolae Iorga (9). Also, the supporting buttresses had the main dates of the ”restructure war”, but only the victories or symbolical ones, such as Romania’s entrance into war, the second entrance of the Romanian army in Ardeal, the entrance of the Romanian army in Basarabia and Bucovina. The Arch of Triumph also contained the carved declaration of King Ferdinand when joining the war (10).

The erection of the Arch of Triumph was not devoid of disputes and controversy, besides the retardation of the definitive construction works and its dilapidated appearance. Al. Tzigara Samurcaș did not refrain from accusing the architect Petre Antonescu of plagiarism, saying that he had got his inspiration from the work of a student at the School of  Beaux-Arts in Paris, which should however be taken with a certain degree of reticence (11).


Bibliography

  1. Diana Toea, ”Povestea Arcului de Triumf: Rușinea <<Micului Paris>>”, retrievable at  https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/povestea-arcului-de-triumf-rusinea-micului-paris[29 November 2018].
  2. Constantin Kirițescu, Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest, Schools Publishing House, p. 22.
  3. Ibidem, p. 22.
  4. Ibidem
  5. Diana Toea, ”Povestea Arcului de Triumf: Rușinea <<Micului Paris>>”, retrievable at  https://www.historia.ro/sectiune/general/articol/povestea-arcului-de-triumf-rusinea-micului-paris[29 November 2018].
  6. Constantin Kirițescu, Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest, Schools Publishing House, p. 23.
  7. Ibidem
  8. Ibidem, pp. 23-24.
  9. Even now the visitors of the Arch may read the inscriptions written by Nicolae Iorga. Thus, the text “Glory to those who through their bravery and blood sacrifice brough tabout national unity” is on the West side, and the text “after centuries of christian-borne suffering and hard battle to preserve the nation after the sacrifice-filled defence of human civilization justice finally came for the Romanian people through king Ferdinand’s sword with the help of the entire nation and Queen Marie’s thought” on the south side. The Arch of Triumph also shows the effigies of King Ferdinand and Queen Marie https://ampt.ro/ro/monument/arcul-de-triumf-2[29 November 2018]
  10. 24-25.
  11. Al. Tzigara-Samurcaș, Arcul de Triumf, Bucharest, Socec Graphic Shops, 1929, p. 7.

 

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