La Grande Arche de la Défense was constructed in the mid-80s as a 20th century version of the Arc de Triomphe. The idea was to celebrate the humanity and humanitarianism of French society rather than the militarism that pervaded much of Europe in the preceding century.

The arche was the brainchild of a national design competition began by then President François Mitterrand. The design is nearly a perfect cube that is considered to be a tesseract or a four dimensional analogy to a cube. The structure is made of pressed concrete and Italian Carrara marble. The arche was inaugurated in July of 1989 to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution with grand military parades. The arche is turned to accommodate its place at one end of the axe historique with the Louvre on the other end.