The Eiffel Tower, one of Paris’s most visited attractions, welcoming almost seven million visitors per year, was completed 129 years ago. The Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Explore 10 surprising facts about the Parisian icon.
1. The Eiffel Tower was built in two years, two months, and five days—a record back in the late 1880s. It was officially completed on March 31, 1889.
2. It was only supposed to last for 20 years. Gustave Eiffel had it built specifically to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
3. It hasn’t always been brown. It was briefly painted yellow in 1889, and from 1954 to 1961, it was painted a brownish-red color.
4. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Eiffel Tower acted as a billboard—three of its sides held advertisements for Citroën automobiles. No other brand has ever used the monument as an advertising medium.
5. The French originally hated it. A number of high-profile creatives and architects signed a petition to protest the tower during its construction. They called the tower “useless” and “monstrous.”
6. It played a crucial role in the First World War, during the Battle of the Marne in 1914. Signals would be sent out from the top of the tower, directing the French troops to the front line.
7. The Eiffel Tower shrinks. Seriously, it’s been measured. In the winter, it’s approximately four to eight inches shorter.
8. Welcoming around seven million visitors each year, it’s the most visited monument in the world that you have to pay for. (The Empire State Building only draws around 3.5 million visitors each year).
9. Every night, every hour on the hour, the tower is covered in golden lights and sparkles for five whole minutes while the Eiffel Tower’s beam lights up the city. The best place to see the light show is from Place du Trocadero.
10. When Gustave Eiffel designed the tower, he included a secret apartment for himself at the very top. Accessible to no one but him, envious Parisians frequently offered large sums of money to spend a night in the city’s most exclusive penthouse, but he always refused.