Though it carries the same name as its French cousin, the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona is quite different, both architecturally and historically.
The more famous one, the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris (though France actually has several that go by the same name) was begun by Napoleon Bonaparte to commemorate his many victories. The Barcelona Arc de Triomf was erected for the Universal Exposition of 1888 which was held at the Parc de la Ciutadella, where it stood as the entrance to the event.
It is equally different in appearance from its French cousin.
Though it is of the same large scale and shares a general appearance, "arch with horizontal lintel and vertical posts", the Barcelona version is a bright orange brick that gives it a much less somber attitude. The style of Barcelona's Arc de Triomf is similar to Moorish designs, known as Mudejar. Of course, this is not surprising since the Moors dominated Spain for centuries.
The decorations around the structure also vary widely from those on the more famous French
The exterior of the Arc de Triomf is festooned with stone carvings, including a frieze executed by the sculptor Josep Reynés. His delightful work symbolizes the welcoming of visitors to Barcelona. On the opposite side, a stone carving called Recompense executed by Josep Llimona decorates the wall.
Along the horizontal sections above the arc there are twelve statues of
women representing various aspects of the city. It is accompanied by
decorative elements symbolizing all the other provinces of Spain. At
the top above the central figure there is a superbly crafted Coat of Arms,
the official logo of Barcelona. Alongside the shield are two impressive
looking lions. Those elements show an interesting mix and a deviation
from Moorish influence, since Islamic art is decorative but contains no
human or animal figures.
But the Moorish influence continues in the small minaret-style caps
that adorn each of the integrated pillars on each side. Those are
difficult to see from street level. But careful observation will reveal
outstanding carving around each small dome, capped by a stellar carved
ball at the very top.
Located between Passeig de Lluís Companys and Passeig de
Sant Joan, the Arc de Triomf is easy to find. Many popular
hotels are located within a kilometer of the entrance to Ciutadella Park
where the arch is located. It can be seen easily at the end of the wide promenade running in front of them.