It is dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France. Although faintly resembling the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, it is typically Laotian, decorated with many kinnari figures — half woman, half bird.
Besides the elaborate Buddhist embellishment, it differs from the original in having four gates instead of two and being just a bit higher (to spite the French). Reasonably impressive from afar, a surprisingly frank English sign inside the monument labels it a "monster of concrete" when seen up close - and the concrete in question was donated by the US, although it was supposed to go towards a new airport instead. The monument itself aside, the palm tree-lined park around it complete with fountains is quite pleasant though lacking of shade during the day time, and you can climb up to the 7th story (stairs only) for a view of downtown Vientiane (06:00am / 06:00pm).
Sometimes the Patuxai is called the "Vertical runway". It has sometimes been called the Champs Elysées of the East. The road that it is on is Lan Xang Boulevard, but sometimes known in Lao as "Thanon Luang" which means Grand Avenue or Street.
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