When you close your eyes and think about Paris or just utter the name ‘Paris’, all that will come to your mind, undoubtedly, is the Eiffel Tower, one of the iconic monuments in the world as well as the UNESCO World Heritage site since 1991. It was erected by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, a French civil engineer, for the Universal Exposition held in Paris in 1889, mainly to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to showcase to the world the industrial might of France. Ever since its construction, the imposing, 324-meter-tall tower has been attracting millions of visitors every year and it has inspired great writers, artists, and architects around the world.
From being widely criticized by the artists and intellectuals when its construction was underway, the splendid tower went on to become one of the historic monuments in the world. It now stands majestically on Champs de Mars in Paris, with about 1710 flight of stairs leading to its summit. Indeed, the French consider it as the pride of France, and they call it as ‘la dame de Fer’ – ‘The Iron Lady’. Today, none can imagine Paris without the Eiffel Tower.
The ascent to the summit of the tower, the breathtaking view of the charming city of Paris from the summit and the elegant and sophisticated dining experience in one of the restaurants in the tower will enthrall you altogether.
Although Gustave has been credited with the construction of the tower, it was his assistants, Maurice Koechlin, and Émile Nouguier, who designed the structure of the monument initially. Along with an architect, Stephen Sauvestre, the three engineers submitted the design of the tower to a competition, hoping to win a place at the World Fair in 1889, and they eventually won and began the construction of the tower in July 1887.
At first, the tower drew criticisms from eminent writers and artists, who called it as monstrous and ridiculous, for they believed that the giant structure made of wrought iron would ruin the charm of the city and that it would serve no purpose at all. Nevertheless, the construction went on, and when it was completed in March 1889, those who criticized it were awed by its splendor and praised it in public. And the magnificent tower remained one of the greatest architectural achievements of France since then. About 250 million people have visited the monument since its construction.
Just days after the splendid tower was opened, Gustave allowed scientists and researchers to use the third floor as a laboratory to carry out their scientific experiments. And during the World War I, the French military used the tower to intercept messages from Berlin and were able to halt the advance of their enemy.
Today, around 120 antennas are attached to the tower that transmits radio and television signals across the city.
The Tower is an example of innovation and modern architecture during the Industrial era, quite different from the neo-Gothic and neo-Renaissance styles of architecture that were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The entire structure is made of lattice wrought iron, and it stands on four sturdy metal girders resting on a concrete slab. It has 108 storeys and 1710 steps, which will lead one to the tapered tower situated at a height of 324 meters. About 10,100 tons of iron and 2.5 millions of rivets were required to construct the structure.
All parts of the tower had been built in a way that they can stand the force of the wind, and mathematical hypotheses had been used by the engineers who designed the tower. Also, the names of the those who contributed to the construction of the tower are engraved on the side of the tower.
The tower has three floors, the floor 190 feet above the ground, the second 376 feet and the third floor 900 feet above the ground. Around 20,000 lightbulbs illuminate the tower in the night, providing a spectacular view to those who visit it in the evening.
Originally, the tower was intended to stand for 20 years, but since its use for radio transmission was unavoidable, renovations had been made to maintain the tower. Almost 60 tons of paint is used every seven years to repaint the tower to prevent it from rusting. Until the completion of Chrysler Building in New York in 1930, the iconic tower remained the tallest man-made edifice in the world.
The monumental tower is situated close to the Seine River, where you can enjoy a cruise ride and have a glimpse of the notable landmarks in the city. The three floors in the tower have two restaurants, a banquet hall, a champagne bar, and a few gift shops.
On the first floor, you will find all about the magnificent tower through various portraits, engravings, and documentaries, beginning from its construction till its evolution at various stages. You will have a thrilling experience walking on its transparent floor. Do not forget to visit the gift shop and the museum that are situated on the same floor. Also, treat yourself with the excellent French cuisine at the 58 Tour Eiffel restaurant.
The second floor offers you a panoramic view of the city of Paris, including the other famous monuments – the Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Grand Palais, etc. There are two gift shops where you can buy clothes and accessories for your friends back home. And the Jules Verne restaurant on this floor with its elegant ambiance will give you a delightful dining experience.
The top floor has Gustave’s office, where you will find the wax statues of him, his daughter Claire and the famous American inventor, Thomas Edison. You will feel as if the three are engaged in a conversation with one another. The floor has a champagne bar too, where you can enjoy a glass of champagne, gazing at the vibrant city from an altitude of 276 meters.
The stunning architecture has inspired many architects across the world, as you can see its replicas in Las Vegas and in a theme park in Shenzhen province, China. The Blackpool Tower in the UK and the Tokyo Tower in Japan were inspired by the Iron Lady too. Further, it continues to inspire artists, architects, photographers and writers around the world.