Photo: The Vertical Runway in Vientiane, Laos
It is a little odd to see what appears to be a replica the Parisian Arc de Triumph as the centerpiece of the Laotian capitol Vientiane, but the history of this unusual monument is even stranger. Patuxai, meaning Victory Gate or Gate of Triumph in Lao, is a war monument that was constructed from concrete “diverted” from a CIA airports project, earning the memorial the affectionate nickname “The Vertical Runway”.
The design for the arch was chosen to spite the Lao’s former colonizers, the French. As if trying to outdo the Parisian equivalent, where the Arc de Triomphe in Paris had two pillars, Patuxai was constructed with four. However, as evidenced by words on the plaque at the base of the monument, even the Laotians admit that “Monument Aux Morts” might not rival its French doppelganger.
“At the northeastern end of the LaneXang Ave. arises a huge structure resembling the Arc de Triomphe. It is the Patuxay or Victory Gate of Vientiane, build in 1962 (B.E. 2505), but never completed due to the country’s turbulent history. From a closer distance, it appears even less impressive, like a monster of concrete.
Nowadays this place is used as leisure ground for the people of Vientiane and the seventh floor on top of the building serves as excellent view point over the city.”