by Jonathan Glancey @ bbc.com

There’s Trajan’s Arch and Marble Arch, the Arch of Constantine and Napoleon’s Arc de Triomphe. You can ride to the top of the biggest of them all, the 630ft (192m) high Gateway Arch in St Louis, or, in southern Spain, stare amazed at hundreds of intersecting horseshoe-shaped arches in the hypostyle hall of what was once the Great Mosque of Cordoba.

And yet the world’s most famous arches may well be those – with no claim to high culture, innovative engineering or grand historical narrative – of McDonald’s. Under the sign of these arches, currently on display at more than 30,000 restaurants in 119 countries, 68 million customers a day are served variations on a theme of burgers and fries washed down with Coke and shakes. But this famous M logo formed of two intersecting golden arches and developed over a number of years came about more by accident than design.