One of the most iconic landmarks on earth celebrates its 125th birthday today – not bad for a structure that was originally only granted a 20 year permit back in 1889!
The graceful iron-latticed tower stands in the heart of Paris on the Champ de Mars, on the city’s seventh arrondissement. French engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832 – 1923) both designed and constructed the tower which was designed to serve as the entrance to the Paris World’s Fair in 1889, held to mark the centennial of the French Revolution. The 324 metre (1,063 feet) tall tower was ridiculed by local artists at the time, and indeed sparked the famous Artists Protest - but La Tour Eiffel has evolved into an enduring symbol of both Paris and France.
Around seven million visitors ascend the tower each year, with nearly 300 million reaching the dizzying heights in total. The public viewing platform is the highest in Europe. The tower itself ruled as the tallest structure in the world for more than 40 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York came along.
Visitors can opt to fast-track to the top via the lift systems, or can opt to trudge the 300 or so steps up to level one, taking in the panoramic view on the way.
Gustave Eiffel went on to create many more notable structures all across the world including the Cathedral of San Pedro de Tacna in Peru (1875), the Church of Notre Dame des Champs, Paris (1867) and of course the equally iconic Statue of Liberty in New York (1886). He also built many other religious buildings, bridges and viaducts as well as contributing considerable time and knowledge towards the field of aerodynamics.
And the Eiffel Tower has a happy ending – it was permitted to stay within Paris, thanks to its importance in both communication and meteorology.