The Story Behind the Famous Eiffel Tower
Not a few people dream of visiting the Eiffel Tower. There is not a surprise as it is perhaps one of the most beautiful and intriguing structures in the world. For those who would like more than a visual appreciation of this European urban attraction, it would be more than interesting to hear about how this landmark came about and what controversies surrounded its conception and construction.
On the Drawing Board
The idea for the Eiffel Tower came up during the planning for the World’s Fair of 1889 or the International Exposition. Coincidentally, it was also the celebration of the 100th centenary of the French Revolution. The people of France wanted a grand monument to be constructed to symbolize the country’s greatness.
It was in 1884 when the first sketch of the tower was drawn up. The following year, the design was presented by Gustave Effel in front of the members of the Société des Ingénieurs Civils. While the concept of the tower seemed to be positively received, there were a number of technical issues that were raised.
In 1886, the Minister of Trade revised the entry and selection rules of an open competition for the design of the exposition centerpiece to include a proposal for Eiffel’s concept. By the end of the competition, however, it was still Eiffel’s original design that was chosen.
Building a Giant
The contract to build the Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mars was signed in 1887 and the project was allotted a budget of 1.5 million francs, only a little more than 20% of the original estimated budget. Eiffel was to collect income on the tower’s use over the period of 20 years. Apart from the controversy of the feasibility of actually building this giant with such technical issues and a limited budget, another spat was hurled against Eiffel’s Tower.
The art community strongly opposed the building such an ominous structure that threatened to overshadow all other attractions and artistic landmarks Paris had to offer. Prominent builders and artists banded together in order to stop the construction of the tower. Eiffel continued to defend his design and built his tower until it was completed in 1889.
Milestones in the Eiffel Tower’s Past
Aside from its inauguration for the world exposition, the Eiffel Tower figured in a number of milestones throughout its existence. Before the initial 20-year period in Eiffel’s contract was over, the tower made headlines for an antenna that was built atop the tower to enable wireless telegraphy in 1898. This proved to be such a significant milestone as it also prevented the planned disassembly of the tower by the Parisian government. The military station on top of the tower was also instrumental in the capture of the spy Mata Hari.
The 300-meter tall Parisian attraction was also hailed as the tallest structure in Europe and the rest of the world for four decades until the Chrysler Building was erected in the United States in 1930. To reclaim the title, and for other more practical reasons, Eiffel added an antenna to his tower in 1957. Now standing 324 meters high, the Eiffel Tower is only second to the Millau Viaduct as the tallest structure in France.
The Eiffel Tower Today
As it was first opened, the tower still has three levels that are open to visitors – two lower levels and an observation deck near the top of the tower. There are two restaurants at the lower levels and a champagne bar at the top. The guest areas are accessible via lifts and stair ways.
Millions of visitors go to the Eiffel Tower every year, with as many as 25,000 people lining up to get tickets every day. It is no wonder that this tower has been declared as the most visited paid monument the world over.
If you want to experience romantic Paris and enjoy its sights in this towering beauty, you can check out the daily schedules online and plan your trip. Don’t forget to include the Eiffel Tower Light Show in your plans.