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Victory Arch


The Arc of Triumph (Arabic: قوس النصر‎‎ Qaws an-Naṣr), also called the Swords of Qādisīyah، and Hands of Victory in some Western sources, are a pair of triumphal arches in central Baghdad, Iraq. Each arch consists of a pair of hands holding crossed swords. The two arches mark the two entrances to Great Celebrations square and the parade ground constructed to commemorate the Iran-Iraq war, led by then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The arches were opened to the public on August 8, 1989. It is one of Baghdad's sights and monuments and near to The Monument to the Unknown Soldier.

In 1986 (two years before the war's end) the government of Iraq began the construction of a festival and parade ground in Zawra Park, near the extensive presidential complex in the center of Baghdad. Known as Grand Festivities Square, it comprised a large parade ground, an extensive review pavilion, and the two arches. The official name of the arches, the Swords of Qādisiyyah, is an allusion to the historical Battle of al-Qādisiyyah.

The site was home to the Museum of Gifts to the President and a performing arts center. The museum was located on the ground floor of the grand reviewing pavilion where Saddam was known to review the Republican Guard while firing a weapon in the air. The museum contained ordinary items donated by Iraqis during his rule. Items included cheap plastic ornaments and drawings donated by Iraqi children.

The Grand Festivities Square also contained a large reflecting pool. The surrounding grassy areas hosted Iraqis during military parades. Adding to the festive appeal of the grounds were three refreshments booths that sold ice cream, cold beverages, and candy.

Iraq's leading sculptor, Adil Kamil, won the commission to design and execute the construction of the arches, which were based on a concept sketch made by president Saddam Hussein. The design consists of a pair of massive hands emerging from the ground, each holding a 43-metre-long (141 ft) sword. A small flagpole rises from the point where the swords meet, at a point about 40 metres (130 ft) above the ground. Kamil used photographs and plaster casts of Saddam's forearms to model for the design of the hands. When Kamil died in 1987, with the monument incomplete, his position was assumed by fellow artist Mohammed Ghani Hikmat. Ghani personally took an impression of one of Saddam's thumbs, and the resulting fingerprint was added to the mold for one of the arches' thumbs.


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