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"A Monster of Concrete"

Visiting Patuxay, Vientiane's Victory Gate

At the northeastern end of LaneXang Ave rises a huge structure resembling the Arc de Triomphe. It is the "Patuxay" or Victory Gate of Vientiane. Built 1962 (B.E.2065), but never completed due to the country's turbulent history, it commemorates Laos resilience and eventual independence.

A sign on the Victory Gate tags it as a "monster of concrete". The structure may be incomplete, however, it is far from a 'monster' except in size. Designed by former soldier, journalist and sculptor Tham Sayasthena in 1957, it is ornately decorated in a fusion of Asian design and sits amongst a garden of fountains.

The Gate is richly embossed with Buddhist and Hindu symbolism with carvings of lotus flowers and statues of nagas, and the half bird- half woman 'animist kinnari'. The interior walls and ceilings are painted with gilded-gold images of gods, national heroes and elephants.

The arch is topped by 5 towers built in Laotian style. These have the dual duty of representing the 5 buddhist principles of amiability, honesty, honour, flexibility and prosperity as well as the 5 principles of co-existence amongst nations in the world.

Taking the spiral staircase to the rooftop affords a stunning view of the gardens and Vientiane's main avenue.


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