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Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower history
The Eiffel Tower is named after its main designer; the French metallic structure expert and engineer, Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel had previously designed multiple metallic structures such as several railway bridges and the armature for another world known monument, the statue of Liberty. This time he had his eyes on construction a metallic structure in the shape of a tower.
What many people do not know is that the Eiffel Tower was originally planned to be constructed in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition in 1888, but it was turned down as it was “too expensive and strange”. Instead, Eiffel tried to build the Eiffel Tower in Paris for the Universal Exposition in 1889 and this time the building was approved.
A huge project
Fifty engineers produced over 5300 drawings of the different parts needed in order to construct the tower. The towers 18.000 metal parts were built separately in workshop and then assembled on site by using more than 2.500.000 rivets.
Even though the assembling was an extremely dangerous procedure, without many of the modern safety precautions, only one man was killed during the construction. The construction began 1887 and the Eiffel Tower stood finished march 31, 1889. The total weight of the Eiffel Tower is estimated to a massive 10.100 tons.
“The Iron Lady”, as it is sometimes called, has not always been the loved structure it is today. During its planning and construction phase, many protested against the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Many called it an eyesore and the papers were filled with angry letters from the arts communities in Paris.
Even after its construction, the Eiffel Tower was highly controversial amongst the Parisians. One famous quote is from novelist Guy de Maupassant, who hated the tower but still went to its restaurant every day. When asked why, he said it was because it is the only place in Paris were one cannot see the structure.
Luckily for the Eiffel Tower haters, Eiffel only had permit to keep the tower for 20 years, after that it would be demolished. However, as the tower proved valuable for telecommunication purposes, it was allowed to remain intact even after the time had expired. As time passed, more and more people started to like the building. Today, almost all Parisians love the tower.
Throughout the years, the Eiffel tower has seen a lot. People have tied new weird parachute innovations (more or less successful), an elephant have been on visit inside the tower and staircase races have been conducted.
World War II
The Eiffel Tower also experienced the German occupation of Paris during the Second World War. During the occupation, the lift cables inside the tower were cut by the French. This to make sure Hitler had to take the 1665 stepped stairs if he wanted to scale the top, since the proper parts to repairs the lift were impossible to obtain during the war. When visiting Paris, Hitler remained on ground.
Thus it’s said Hitler conquered France, but he did not conquer the Eiffel tower. At the liberation of Paris in 1944, the Eiffel tower became of symbol of liberty when a French flag, made of three bed sheets sawn together, was raised on the top of tower.
To prevent the metal from rust, the Eiffel Tower is covered with a protective paint. Even though it can be hard to spot, the tower is actually painted in a three-tone variation paint, with the lightest tone on top and darker the further down it goes. This is to make sure that the Eiffel Tower compliments the Paris sky as good as possible.
The tower needs to be repainted every seven years, and as you can imagine, it takes quite some time and paint to finish the job. Each repaint takes between 15-18 months to complete and around 60 tons of paint is required.
Why visit Eiffel Tower ?
The Eiffel tower is without a doubt one of the most famous buildings in the world. If you plan to visit it, you won’t be the only one to see the tower, as it is the most visited paid monument in the world. An estimate of over 200 million people has seen the tower, on site, since its construction in 1889. Visiting Paris, but not the Eiffel Tower, is no visit at all.
The Eiffel Tower was at its time of construction the highest tower in the world with its 312 meters. Even though it has long lost that record, it still stands impressively tall. Today, the tower totals 324 meters, as an antenna has been added to the top. The tower consists of three levels, all normally open to visitors. The first two are accessible by both stairs and elevators, while the top level only can be reached by elevator.
Entering the tower
If you have the stamina, taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a good choice; not only will it save you some money but it is also a unique experience on its own. The views from all levels are great and the view from the top is absolutely striking. As you probably guessed, the top level is not for people afraid of heights.
Also, do make sure to visit the Eiffel Tower by night. By then, the tower’s 336 spotlights and 20.000 light bulbs turns something amazing into something truly amazing.
Eiffel Tower location
The Eiffel Tower is located in central Paris, France, on the classic Parc du Champ de Mars. The tower can easily be reached by subway. The most interesting way is to take the metro to Trocadéro station and approach the tower from the Trocadéro square.
It will give you a great view of the tower and a nice walk past Palais de Chaillot and the river Seine before arriving to the tower. For the Eiffel Tower’s exact location, use the location map provided to the right.
Eiffel Tower resources
View from the Eiffel Tower. (GFDL) David Iliff.
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our France map.
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