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Facts about the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower is not only the icon of Paris and one of the most important tourist attractions in France, but it ranks as one of the most recognisable European landmarks. Read below to learn facts about the Eiffel Tower, also known as the French “Iron Lady” (La Dame de Fer.)

Facts about the Eiffel Tower
De la tour Eiffel

A Brief History of the Eiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel first presented his design for the Eiffel Tower to the mayor of Barcelona, where another universal exhibition was to take place. However, Barcelona refused the project, which they considered unrealistically expensive. 

Photo Source: Public domain

The construction of Eiffel’s Paris tower began on 1st July 1887 and ended after two years, two months and five days of work on 31st March 1889 with a sumptuous inauguration party. Fifty engineers and nearly 300 workers were engaged in the construction which was destined to be dismantled later. Yes, the Eiffel Tower was proposed as a temporary attraction for the Universal Exhibition of Paris in 1989. The exhibition highlight was built for a twenty year life and designed to be demolished after two decades.

Do you know that the base of the tower is in the form of four great arches? That’s because it formed the gateway into the main exhibition of the Paris World Exhibition.

Animated timelapse showing Construction of the Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower in Numbers 

It measures 324 metres high. When opened, it was the tallest structure in the world. It held this record for 41 years. It is five metres taller even than New York’s art deco Chrysler Building, but both were overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1930.

The Eiffel Tower remains to this day the tallest French building. Until 1973 it was the tallest structure in France when a taller military radio transmitter was built in Saissac. More recently it was also overtaken in height by the French Millau Viaduct which is 343m at its highest point above the valley.

The tower consists of 18,000 metal composite parts held together by 2.5 million rivets.

The weight of the tower is 7,300 tons for the steel frame and a total weight of 10,100 tons.

You know metals expand with heat? The height of the Eiffel Tower varies – shrinking in winter by as much as 8cm, and growing in summer by about 15cm over its nominal size. The record expansion came in the summer of 1976 at 18cm.

If you don’t like lifts, you need to be ready to climb steps – 1,665 of them to get to the top.

The Eiffel Tower Illuminations

In the years 1925 to 1934, Citroen sponsored the tower to create a vast illuminated billboard. The Citroen company name was installed on the facade in the form of a quarter of a million bulbs, and almost 600km of electric cables. The advertisement made the Guinness Book of Records due to its size.

Today’s illuminations of the Eiffel Tower require around 20,000 bulbs, even if they are rarely used all at the same time. During big events, the tower is temporarily decorated with even more lights.

It is forbidden to broadcast an image of the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night without permission, and presumably the payment of a license fee. The tower itself is not protected by copyright but the illuminations are registered as a work of intellectual property.

There are also spotlights which shine down from the tower to illuminate the city. Originally, these lamps were positioned in a small railcar that ran around the top to light up Paris. In 2000 the arrangement was replaced by four fixed lamps, each located on one side of the building,

Visitors to the Eiffel Tower – Famous, Infamous and Otherwise

The English Royal Family and Buffalo Bill Cody were the first official visitors to the Eiffel Tower. Their names are recorded in the guestbook in the hand of Gustave Eiffel himself.

With seven million visitors per year on average, the Eiffel Tower is the most frequented payable tower in the world. Within France’s total tourist economy it ranks fourth, after Disneyland, Notre-Dame de Paris and the Louvre.

During the Second World War, Hitler visited Paris, the French cut the elevator cables forcing him to climb the stairs. The lifts were not repaired until 1946 so quite a number of other visitors must have shared his inconvenience.

Painting The Eiffel Tower 

Today the Eiffel Tower is painted a bronze brown, but it has not always been that colour. Originally red, it has also been painted yellow and blue. 

On average the tower is repainted every seven years, the present workforce numbers 25 craftsmen using brushes only (no spray guns) working for eighteen months. They use 60 tons of paint each time. It is estimated that about 15 tonnes of paint will be eroded by the weather before the whole thing is stripped back to the metal and repainted again.

Other Eiffel Towers

The exact number of replicas of the Eiffel Tower is uncertain, but there are at least 30 of them around the world. You might see them in Las Vegas, China, Canada… There used to be one in Almaty, Kazakhstan outside a store specialising in French perfumes when we lived there more than a decade ago. … The Eiffel Tower is all over the world!

Fun facts about Eiffel tower

Erika LaBrie is a former US servicewoman. She fell in love with the Eiffel Tower during a trip in 2004 and during a service in 2007, she married the tower, taking the name Eiffel. She also has claimed significant affairs of the heart with the Berlin wall and “Lance” (her bow – she is an archer) Erika Eiffel is founder of OS Internationale, in advocacy of people who develop relationships with inanimate objects – a practice also known as objectum sexuality or objectophilia.

Franz Reichelt, died at the age of 33 on 4th February 1912, jumping from the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower to test his invention, a parachute suit.

There are restaurants at an altitude of up to 125 meters on the Eiffel Tower.

The restaurant 58 Tour Eiffel is on the first floor, and Le Jules Verne is on the second floor and boasts a Michelin Star. It is estimated that an average of two marriage proposals per day are made in the Jules Verne Restaurant.

There is a fireplace at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. Not many people notice it tucked away between a few shrubs behind the west pillar and yet it has been there for over a century! This red brick turret dates from the time of the creation of the tower, when its function was purely industrial in connection with the tower’s machine room.

In 1960 Charles de Gaulle proposed that the tower be temporarily dismantled and transported to Montreal for the Expo 67 exhibition. The idea was rejected.

In 1905, a competition was organised to climb the Eiffel Tower by stairs. M. Forestier won. It took him 3 minutes and 12 seconds to get to the second floor.

In 1923, Pierre Labric descended the stairs on his bicycle for a wager. He won the bet but was arrested by the police for this offence.

The Chamber of Commerce of Monza in Italy estimated in 2012 the value of the Eiffel Tower at 434 billion euros.

Gustave Eiffel owned a private apartment on the third floor of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower has its own post office. It allows tourists to post their postcards directly.

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Ania James

photographer, traveller, mother of twin girls, wife, worldschooler, rulebreaker

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