Friday, October 5, 2012

Vientiane: Patuxai

One of Vientiane's quirky things to see is the large-and-in-charge L'Arc de Triomphe doppelganger, Patuxai.

 

Set in the middle of Vientiane's widest boulevard, Patuxai is a large, concrete, mythical-creature-covered, 4-gate arch built in the late 1950s.  Its name means "Victory Gate," and its construction was meant to celebrate the victory in the struggle against the French colonizers... it's also a few feet taller than the L'Arc de Triomphe, which I'm sure was purposeful.


The absolute funniest part of the gate, though, is that it was purportedly made from money and concrete donated by the U.S. after the  French/Indochina war.  However, that money was not supposed to go towards construction of a massive, gaudy victory memorial, but rather for a new runway at Vientiane's airport.  Thus the nickname of Patuxai is "Vertical Runway."  Ha!



Interesting:


The English language signage inside Patuxai is particularly funny and strangely frank, stating "From a closer distance, it appears even less impressive, like a monster of concrete.":


Inside, the ceiling of the arch is covered in depictions of Vishnu, Brahma and Indra:


From the top of the arch, after climbing up 6 sweaty flights of stairs, you have a decent 360 degree view of Vientiane:



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