Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis

Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis are two triumphal archs found in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. They were built under the commission of Louis XIV after he emerged victorious on the Rhine and in a Franche-Comté, a then free county of Burgundy that later became a French Province. The two monuments date back to the 1670s, with Porte Saint-Denis being the first to be constructed, and Porte Saint-Martin, being built later. The two spot different kinds of architecture with Porte Saint-Denis being the more distinct even in times of size.

Porte Saint-Denis receives inspiration from a Roman Arch- the Arch of Titus. This is evident in the architectural style used, more so with the bas-reliefs which are one of the first things to be noticed about the arch. The arch is a colossal structure, standing at over 24m high and 25m wide. It has one central arch that is over 15m high and 8m wide. There were two pedestrian openings on the side, which were not included in the initial design of the arch. These are now sealed off and the integrity of the structure is consistent. The arch has two obelisks each detailed with bas-reliefs, one on each side of the central arch. At the top of the monument is a bronze inscription reading Ludovico Magno (Louis the Great).

Porte Saint-Martin is the smaller triumphal arch, standing at only 18m high as compared to the Porte Saint-Denis which is over 5m higher. It trades some of the Roman influence for a more traditional-looking rusticated approach with its architecture. Porte Saint-Martin has three arches; a large central arch, and two smaller ones on each side. Unlike the other arch, these smaller arches were included in the original design, and consequently they are not sealed off. Above these smaller arches are recesses detailed in bas-reliefs,

Both the arches are built at the sites of the gates where the fortifications of Paris used to be. These same sites used to hold medieval gates and after the archs were built the goal was not to continue serving that purpose. It has been established that Louis XIV commissioned the construction of these arches, but all the expenses were catered to by the city of Paris. The monuments date back to over 300 years, and the time does take its effect. In a bid to preserve the archs that not only help tell the story of ancient Paris, but also share the architectural styles that were popular then, the two archs were restored in 1988.

There are many triumphal arches in the city of Paris, and though Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis were not the first, they are amongst the oldest. It has frequently been stated that the Porte Saint-Denis gave some inspiration to the Arc de Triomphe which is the most famous triumphal arc in Paris. Porte Saint-Martin and Porte Saint-Denis and all these archs, besides providing a rich history of Paris from many centuries back, make for good tourist attractions and are worth a visit.