Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower (12)

It is practically impossible to imagine Paris without this tower. 

Nevertheless, this relationship of love between the Eiffel Tower and Paris has not always existed. When its construction was planned at the end of the 19th century, the Parisians expressed their total rejection. In fact, in February 1887 the newspaper Le Temps published a letter from a group of intellectuals calling for the halting of the construction of that “revolting column of sheet metal and screws”. Some people even called it “metal asparagus”.

It takes its name from its designer, Gustav Eiffel, and was chosen from among 107 projects to crown the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1899, although it had begun in 1884 with the project for commemorating the French Revolution.

Its construction began on the 28th of January 1887, and it was opened on the 31st of March 1899. Eiffel climbed the 1,710 steps to plant the French flag at the summit. And it was opened to the public shortly after, on the 15th of May. And although in principle it was planned to demolish it alter the Universal Exhibition, it would be the French navy that would save it, because after some military tests with transmission equipment, they reached the conclusion that the Eiffel Tower would be a perfect place for the installation of radio antennas.

When it was erected, the Eiffel Tower measured 312 metres and stood imposing as the tallest building in Paris. Today, the tower measures 324 metres in height, twelve metres more than originally, due to the radio antenna of its apex. In its time, it was not only the tallest construction in France, but also in the whole world, until it was surpassed in 1929 by the Chrysler building in New York.  

Nevertheless, and as a curiosity, its height may vary by some 15 centimetres, since the 10,000 tons of iron that make up the tower, along with its 2½ million rivets, expand when it is hot and contract when it is cold.

More than 18,000 metal pieces were required to build a monument that to start with measured around 7,000 tons, and on which around 250 workers worked for nearly 2 years. Another curiosity to be taken into account is that not one worker died during the construction. The foundations of the tower are sunk almost 30 metres into the ground and each of its four legs rests over 8 hydraulic jacks.

Loved and hated, the Eiffel Tower soon won over the affection of the public, since it received almost 2 million visitors in the first 6 months after it opened and is still today one of the most visited monuments in the world.

The tower is currently given a fresh coat of paint of some 50 tons every five years in order to protect it from erosion. The paint covering the tower has not always been the same colour. It originally had a yellowish tone and since 1985 its illumination can be enjoyed, the sodium lamps projecting an orange-yellow light from its interior, giving it a unique charm.

If you are in Paris you simply must visit the Eiffel Tower, although you will have to wait for quite a while in the queue. Depending how fit you are, you can choose either the healthy or the comfortable way up. Obviously, the latter choice includes lifts. There are 3 levels. The first platform is 57 metres up, the second 115 metres and if you do not suffer from vertigo, you will reach 276 metres height on the third floor. The healthy option to climb the tower means having strong legs and lungs, because more than 1,500 steps are waiting for you.

Below the tower you will see a bust made by Antoine Bourdelle, in memory of Gustave Eiffel, who as well having made this tower is famous worldwide for having planned the iron structure of the New York’s Statue of Liberty.

On the second platform you will be able to take a photo at altitude in the Jules Verne restaurant, which independently from its unmistakable quality in cuisine, provides a unique panorama of the city of light.

The Eiffel Tower also has its secrets and curiosities. It is currently possible to visit the machine room from where lifts are controlled, or the technical room of the first floor. Unlike the rest of the tower, which is free to enter, these areas can only be visited with a guide and by prior arrangement.

Do not miss it! Enjoy the very best views of the city of Paris. On a clear day you can see as far away as 67 kilometres.

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