The iconic Eiffel Tower is one of the most well-known landmarks in the world, the symbol of Paris and a tourist lure like no other says a fan from Australia…
2014 marked the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower, and I was lucky enough to visit it for the first time, standing at the top of a monument graced by the famous and infamous alike, a tower that can claim that people as varied as Edison and Buffalo Bill have marvelled at its view. And what a view it is. While I took in the Arc de Triomphe and Ecole Militaire, I wondered why the ‘Iron Lady’ was, at one time, highly unpopular, with the art community likening it to ‘metal asparagus’. I wondered why the breath-taking panorama it provides of Paris was not seen as function enough, and why Gustave Eiffel had to use it for scientific and radio purposes to stop it from being permanently ‘dismantled’, as was threatened.
The great irony is that, if you ask someone to tell you what they first think of when you say Paris, they are likely to say ‘the Eiffel Tower’. The 301 metre giant, once the tallest building in the world, has become synonymous with France, with fulfilled dreams and sophistication, with refinement and proposals, and the giddy ‘clinking’ of champagne glasses at the Tower’s summit. It has not, as luck would have it, become synonymous with eyesores.
To me, the Eiffel Tower isn’t just situated in Paris. It is Paris. Whether met with enthusiasm or disdain, Tour Eiffel is visible in many parts of the city, rising above the other buildings with dignity. Elsewhere in the world, it appears on mugs and features in numerous advertising campaigns. A woman once told me that the Eiffel Tower is so heavily represented, that she expects to see it pictured on something at least once a day. After paying closer attention to how often I spotted it, I had to concede she was right, and now look forward to my ‘daily Eiffel Tower’.
As I walked on the sturdy ground of the top floor this year, I was comforted to think that it has stood resolutely for such a long time, and been so meticulously maintained despite the huge number of visitors it attracts each year. I feel that the future of the Eiffel Tower is less shaky than it once was. From playing a part in World War One and re-transmitting Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, what was once considered a monstrosity is now viewed as more than just a pretty facade. The Eiffel Tower literally has history etched into it, with the names of seventy two scientists, engineers and mathematicians appearing on it.
I will continue to champion the icon, no matter what form it appears in. Once upon a time it was red, then inventively red brown and even took a turn at being yellow, but has now graduated to what I consider grey, but is, apparently, brown. But whatever the colour, there are few things that I think can tarnish the reputation of the symbol of Paris that people have come to begrudgingly view with affection. Unless they get rid of the lifts. Now that would be a disaster.
Rebecca Gisborne lives in Perth, Australia and is an aspiring writer who adores the Eiffel Tower and whose favourite historical figure is Marie Antoinette.