Today, France’s iconic Eiffel Tower is one of Paris’s most visited attractions, but when it opened back in 1889, it was as revered as much as a street lamp..
Here’s our top 10 most fascinating facts on the tower which was the main exhibit at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), held to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution.
1. Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.
2. It is 324 metres tall (including antennas) and weighs 10,100 tonnes.
3. It was the tallest structure in France until the construction of a military transmitter in the town of Saissac in 1973. The Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004, is also taller, at 343 metres.
4. It is possible to climb to the top, but there are 1,665 steps. Most people take the lift.
5. The lifts travel a combined distance of 103,000 km a year – two and a half times the circumference of the Earth.
6. Victor Lustig, a con artist, “sold” the tower for scrap metal on two separate occasions.
7. During cold weather the tower shrinks by about six inches.
8. Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and architect behind the tower, was also involved in a disastrous attempt by the French to build a canal in Panama, and his reputation was badly damaged by the failure of the venture.
9. Eiffel also designed interior elements of the Statue of Liberty.
10. He died while listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony.