One of the European icons. I would even risk saying, the most prominent one. It is visited by 7 million people yearly – the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was constructed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle which took place in Paris. It was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel, a renowned expert in metal construction, who supervised the project. The tower was named after him.
Although initially intended to stand for only twenty years, we are soon approaching its 130th birthday. The construction of the Eiffel Tower took a total of 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days.
The Eiffel Tower stands at a height of 324 meters and features three floors that offer breathtaking views. The highest floor, located near the top, is situated at 276 meters. From the third floor, visitors can capture panoramic shots of the surrounding scenery. This floor consists of two levels: a fully sheltered lower level and an upper level that is open but secured with a net.
The second floor, positioned at a height of 115 meters, provides an excellent vantage point for capturing photos of the intricate metal structures of the tower. It offers the opportunity to explore at least two levels, allowing visitors to freely move around and explore the area.
The first floor of the Eiffel Tower is expansive in size and offers various attractions. During the winter season, an ice skating rink is constructed at one of its corners, adding a delightful activity for visitors to enjoy.
All floors may be reached by lifts, but you have to decide where you want to go before buying a ticket. There is an option to bypass the first floor and take a lift directly to the second floor of the Eiffel Tour. Once you reach the second floor, you have the choice to conclude your visit or continue by taking another lift to the top level. When descending from the top level, it is necessary to use the lift. However, on the second floor, visitors can choose between taking the lift or using the stairs to return to the ground level. During my last visit to the Eiffel Tower, I personally opted to take the stairs from the second floor down to the ground level. With more than 100 meters to go down, it required a bit of muscle work. But it was worth it as one can see the metal construction at the close.
The tower’s framework is composed of iron, which was a revolutionary material in the late 19th century. Around 18,000 individual iron pieces and over 2.5 million rivets were used to assemble the tower. Gustave Eiffel and his team paid careful attention to wind resistance during the tower’s design and construction. The open lattice structure and strategic placement of supports contribute to the tower’s stability in windy conditions. The Eiffel Tower features a unique arch design, which provides both strength and aesthetic appeal. The arches intersect at the tower’s second level, creating a visually captivating pattern. The tower originally had hydraulic elevators that were later replaced with electric elevators. These elevators, equipped with modern safety features, efficiently transport visitors to different levels of the tower. Diagonal bracing elements were incorporated into the tower’s design to enhance its structural integrity. These elements help distribute loads and reinforce the tower against external forces. The Eiffel Tower’s foundation consists of concrete footings, deep underground, to provide stability and support for the towering structure. The foundation was carefully engineered to withstand the immense weight of the tower. The weight of the Eiffel Tower is approximately 7,300 metric tons.
Gustave Eiffel is predominantly recognized as the architect and chief engineer behind the renowned Eiffel Tower. Interestingly, during my travels, I came across his name associated not only with the iconic tower but also as the designer of several bridges spanning the Douro River in Portugal.
Gustave Eiffel, born Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in Dijon, France, was a renowned engineer and architect whose name became synonymous with the iconic Eiffel Tower. Graduating from École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris, Eiffel specialized in metal construction, showcasing his talent and innovation in structural engineering.
While the Eiffel Tower remains his most celebrated achievement, Gustave Eiffel’s influence extended far beyond its towering presence. His engineering brilliance and forward-thinking approach led him to undertake various noteworthy projects around the world. In addition to the Eiffel Tower, Eiffel left his mark on several other remarkable structures. One of his notable contributions was the interior iron framework of the Statue of Liberty, a gift from France to the United States. Eiffel’s expertise in metal construction played a pivotal role in creating the statue’s sturdy and intricate skeleton, which supports the iconic copper exterior. Another remarkable feat was the Garabit Viaduct, an impressive railway bridge in central France. This monumental structure, completed in 1884, showcases Eiffel’s innovative use of iron and his ability to design structures that harmoniously blend engineering excellence with aesthetic appeal. Eiffel’s talents extended to the Porto Bridge in Portugal, spanning the picturesque Douro River. This elegant bridge, with its graceful arches and intricate metalwork, stands as a testament to Eiffel’s ability to create functional and visually striking landmarks.
These projects, among many others, demonstrated Eiffel’s ability to push the boundaries of structural engineering and his penchant for combining functionality with artistic beauty. His meticulous attention to detail, understanding of wind resistance, and innovative use of iron revolutionized the field of construction. Beyond his architectural feats, Eiffel’s later career saw him establish the Société des Établissements Eiffel, a company focused on constructing bridges, railway stations, and other impressive metal structures around the world. His expertise and reputation allowed him to leave a lasting impact on the field of engineering, inspiring future generations of architects and engineers.