With more than 7 million visitors a year, making it the world’s fourth most visited monument, the iconic Eiffel Tower in Paris has some surprising facts which many people don’t know.
1. It was not built to last
Built for the Paris Exposition in 1889 it was intended to be demolished twenty years later. The French Navy saved it from destruction by adding a radio antenna at its highest point.
2. Paris was not Gustav Eiffel’s first choice
Originally Gustav Eiffel intended the tower to be built in Barcelona, Spain but the project was rejected.
3. It was not the brainchild of Gustav Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower was actually designed by Gustav Eiffel’s senior engineers, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nougier and his architectural department head, Stephan Sauvestre. Gustav Eiffel bought the rights to the patent once the plans of the tower were finalised.
4. It was once the tallest building in the world
When it was constructed, and for 41 years thereafter, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world. The Chrysler Building in New York surpassed the tower in 1930.
5. The Eiffel Tower has inspired many copycats
Over 30 duplicates and towers of similar design have been inspired by the Eiffel Tower – even here in Australia with the AWA communications tower in Sydney. Most of the copies are not exact replicas, but many are pretty close!
6. There is an apartment in the tower
When Gustav Eiffel designed the Eiffel Tower he included a private apartment for himself where he entertained notable guests such as Thomas Edison.
7. The height of the tower changes
The tower expands by more than 15 centimetres in summer due to the metal expanding.
8. The tower changes colour
Every five years to prevent the tower corroding, it is painted with 50 tonnes of paint – that’s equivalent to ten elephants! Visitors to the tower choose the colour by voting on the first floor.
9. It featured in The Guiness Book of Records
The tower was used as a giant billboard by car manufacturer Citroen between 1925 and 1934 using over a quarter of a million lightbulbs. It was recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as the world’s largest advertisement.
10. It thwarted Hilter during the German Occupation
As the Allies approached Paris in 1944, the military governor Dietrich von Choltitz was ordered by Hilter to demolish the tower. Thankfully he refused and the tower has since been visited by more than 250 million people.
Have you visited the Eiffel Tower? Or is it on your bucket list?