40 fascinating facts about the Eiffel Tower, the landmark that has just grown taller

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The Eiffel Tower has grown. Thanks to a new antenna, the Parisian landmark is now 330 metres tall – six more than it was last week. 

Interestingly (kind of), this is actually the fifth time the pinnacle height of the Eiffel Tower has changed. When it was completed in 1889, the tip of its flagpole was 312.27 metres (1,025ft) above the ground. An antenna extended its extremity to 320.75m (1,052ft) in 1957. It shrank by nine feet after a new antenna was installed in 1991, before further changes in 1994 and 2000. Now you know. 

Here are few other things you might not have known about the iconic structure:

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. As well as being 330 metres tall (including that lovely new antenna), it weighs approximately 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, and the current record holders are a pair of transmitters, one in Allouis and another in Rosnay, that both reach 350 metres. If one were to superglue 100 20cm chopsticks together, and add them to the top of the Eiffel Tower’s new antenna, it would reclaim the record.   

4. Most people take the lift, but you can climb the stairs from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower up to the 2nd floor, a total of 674 steps. Another 991 steps lead to the top, but this section is not open to the public. 



The Eiffel Tower under construction


The tower under construction


Credit: Getty

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.



Gustave Eiffel


Gustave Eiffel


Credit: Getty

11. Since its opening, more than 300 million people have visited the tower.

12. Pre-Covid, the tower welcomed almost 7 million people a year, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world.

13. Its construction took two years, two months and five days – 180 years fewer than Paris’s other great attraction, Notre Dame.

14. During the German occupation, the tower’s lift cables were cut and it was closed to the public. Nazi soldiers then attempted to attach a swastika flag to the top, but it was so large it blew away and had to be replaced with a smaller one.

15. In 1944, as the Allies approached Paris, Hitler ordered Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower, along with other parts of the city. The general refused.



Hitler in Paris


Hitler in Paris


Credit: Getty

16. Repainting the tower, which happens every seven years, requires 60 tonnes of paint.

17. The tower was the main exhibit at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), held to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution.

18. One attendee at the 1889 World’s Fair was Sir John Bickerstaffe, Mayor of Blackpool. So impressed was he at the new attraction, he has a similar tower built on the English seafront.

19. The tower appears in the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill. There is a scene in the Jules Verne restaurant, and a fight in the stairway.

20. Semolina Pilchard climbs the Eiffel Tower in the Beatles song I Am the Walrus.

21. There are a number of other replicas around the world, including one in Las Vegas and one at the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen, China.

22. The tower played a part in the Allied victory at the First Battle of the Marne, in 1914. One of its transmitters jammed German radio communications, hindering their advance.

23. It was originally intended to stand for 20 years before being dismantled, but its use as a wireless telegraph transmitter (in cases such as the one above) meant it was allowed to stay.

24. French car manufacturer Citroen used the tower as a giant billboard between 1925 and 1934 – the company name was emblazoned on the tower using a quarter of a million light bulbs – and was recorded as the world’s biggest advertisement by the Guinness Book of Records.

25. In 2008 a woman with an objects fetish married the Eiffel Tower, changing her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel in honour of her “partner”.



Dining in the Eiffel Tower


Dining in the Eiffel Tower


Credit: Getty

26. The tower comprises 18,000 metallic parts, joined together by 2.5 million rivets.

27. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower’s completion the British Virgin Islands launched a special tower-shaped $10 coin.

28. A number of aviators have flown an aircraft under the arches of the tower. In 1926 Leon Collet was killed after a failed attempt.

29. The tower sways around six to seven centimetres (2-3 inches) in the wind.

30. Gustave Eiffel kept a small apartment of the third floor for entertaining friends. It is now open to the public.

31. The Eiffel Tower and Margaret Thatcher share the same nickname – La Dame de Fer (“The Iron Lady”).

32. In 1960 Charles de Gaulle proposed temporarily dismantling the tower and sending it to Montreal for Expo 67. The plan was rejected.

33. The names of 72 engineers, scientists and mathematicians are engraved on the side of the tower, each of whom contributed to its construction.

34. In the computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the tower is toppled by an airstrike.

35. There are 20,000 lightbulbs used on the Eiffel Tower to make it sparkle every night.



The Eiffel Tower at dusk


The landmark at dusk


Credit: Getty

36. Ever wanted to build your own Eiffel Tower? There’s a LEGO set for that – number 21019 (it contains 321 bricks).

37. It costs €25.90 to take the lift to the top.

38. Pre-Covid, the majority of visitors (10.4%) were French, followed by Italy and Spain (8.1% each), USA (7.9%), Britain (7.4%), Germany (5.8%) and Brazil (5.5%).

39. In 1905 a local newspaper organised a stair climbing championship at the tower. AM Forestier won, taking three minutes and 12 seconds to reach the second level.

40. Pierre Labric cycled down the stairs of the tower in 1923. He won a bet, but was arrested by local police.

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