The Eiffel Tower at 125: celebrating a national landmark

The Eiffel Tower, illuminated at night, (photo by Ming Tang-Evans)
The Eiffel Tower, illuminated at night

The Eiffel Tower is 125 years old in 2014. It's the thing that, more than any other, says 'Paris' - a true icon that was originally intended to be a temporary structure.

It's the most famous monument in the world - or at least, a member of a very select club: only the Pyramids and the Statue of Liberty (whose framework was also designed by Eiffel) enjoy similar renown.

Built for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, it took over two years to build; it remained the world's tallest building until 1930, when it was overtaken by the Chrysler Building in New York (though the tower gained another 20 metres (65ft) in 1957, with the addition of television aerials).

Not everyone liked it at first, but today the tower is the most visited attraction in Paris. It has three platforms open to the public, at 57, 115 and 276 metres from the ground, as well as three lifts. There are two restaurants: Le 58 Tour Eiffel on the first level, and the haute cusine Jules Verne on the second, plus a champage bar at the top. Highlights of any visit include an exhibition on the history of the tower on the first level and the view from the terrace on the second level.


10 fun facts about the tower

1. It was only meant to stand for 20 years, but was saved by the birth of telecommunications.

2. The first man to climb it was the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII).

3. The walk from the ground to the first level is over 300 steps.

4. It transmitted the first public radio programme in 1925.

5. Since its opening in 1889, over 250 million visitors from around the world have visited it.

6. Today it receives almost 7 million visitors a year, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world.

7. 20,000 bulbs glitter for 5 minutes every hour on the hour between nightfall and 1am.

8. To mark the tower's centenary, a World Federation of Great Towers was founded. The Eiffel Tower is the oldest tower in this group.

9. There are several Eiffel Tower replicas around the world, including Blackpool Tower in England (the oldest) and one in Las Vegas (the largest).

10. You can see more examples of Gustave Eiffel's work around Europe: he designed the viaduct that crosses the river Douro in Portugal, Pest railway station in Hungary and the dome of the observatory in Nice.

Visitor information

Opening hours: daily mid-June to August 9am-midnight, September to mid-June 9:30am-11pm

Transport: RER Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel

Tel: 01 44 11 23 23

Entrance fee: charge

Read more about Paris here.

Explore more of Paris

Explore Paris

Whether you are new to the French capital or a repeat visitor, Explore Paris will help you discover the very best of the City of Lights - however long your stay. This brand-new, full-colour guide contains 20 easy-to-follow routes that take in the city's best sights. Discover the city's smartest avenues with our route around the Champs-Elysees and the Grands Boulevards and browse in some fabulous bookshops with our walk around the Latin Quarter. Climb picturesque streets and absorb the artistic atmosphere with our walk around Montmartre and admire some of Paris's grandest architecture with our tour of Versailles. 

Learn about the history and culture of the city as you go and stop off at our recommended cafes along the way. All routes are plotted on a useful pull-out map and beautiful photography throughout the guide shows off the beauty of Paris. 

Buy Explore Paris as a book or ebook here.

Discover more with Insight Guides

home  •  inspire me  •  destinations  •  shop •  blog