I may cause some people to exclaim “Sacré bleu! C’est sacrilège!” but I was actually kind of disappointed when I first saw the Eiffel Tower in person. The Eiffel Tower is one of those semi-mythological romantic things that many of us strive to see in our lifetime. But those kinds of things never live up to the hype. In this case, truly, how could it? It’s just a giant iron tower! A free-standing iron tower that serves no real purpose. A tower, c’est tout. But still. It continues to capture the imagination of people around the world and probably always will. Though most of us can recognize the tower in a photo, what else do you know about it besides the fact that it is in Paris? If you said, “not much”, well read on and learn 10 things you may not have known about the Eiffel Tower!
1. The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 for the World Fair, and for four decades, it was the world’s tallest man-made structure. It is 324 meters tall!
2. It was only supposed to stay up temporarily but people discovered the tower was very useful as a wireless telegraph transmitter so they left it standing. During WWI, messages intercepted between Germany and Spain contributed to the capture of Mata Hari. Today, there are more than 100 antennae on the tower that broadcast radio and television around the world.
3. The tower originally was a red-brown colour. Then it was painted yellow. Over the years, it got toned down to a brown colour and today, it sports its very own colour called “Eiffel Tower Brown”. Every seven years it gets a new coat of paint – it takes 60 tons of paint to cover it! I personally think it should go back to being yellow…
4. There was a lot of hatred for the tower in the 19th century, especially among the Parisian artist and intellectual crowds. They threw around words like “useless”, “monstrous”, “gigantic black factory chimney”, and “French taste gone unrecognized”. They even said “commercial-minded America does not want” it! 5. Apparently, in 1944, Hitler ordered that the Eiffel Tower be destroyed – his orders, clearly, were disobeyed.
6. The tower has a *ahem* shrinkage issue – it can shrink up to 6 inches in the cold!
7. The Eiffel Tower has a wife – it got married in 2007 to a woman now called Erika La Tour Eiffel.
8. I’ve never seen it up close at this time, but the Eiffel Tower is lit up at night and it is quite pretty, even from a distance. However, guess what? While you can photograph it, keep in mind that distributing your night-time Eiffel Tower pictures for professional purposes does requires permission from the Societe d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel. That’s right! If you make money from your night photos of the tower, you’re in copyright violation and are breaking the law!
9. You can walk up the Eiffel Tower but after finding out that there are 1665 steps, you probably won’t. I certainly didn’t. The lift is annoyingly pricey (about 15 € to the top) but there are probably better ways to test your cardio than climbing over 1600 steps!
10. About 7 million people visit the Eiffel Tower each year – it is the most visited non-free monument in the world. Keep that in mind when planning a visit to go up the tower. It is quite likely you’ll spend a lot of time in line! Going up the Eiffel Tower not something I recommend, especially if you find other ways to see expansive views on Paris. But it is also something I don’t not recommend, either!
Have you been to the Eiffel Tower? What did you think of it?