The Eiffel Tower was designed and constructed by Gustave Eiffel, an engineer. It is made of iron lattice and was first opened as the entrance arch to the 1889 International Exhibition commemorating the one hundred year anniversary of the French Revolution. It’s the tallest structure in Paris and the second tallest in France, behind the Millau Viaduct in the southern part of the country (and when it was built, it was the highest in the world until the Empire State Building was erected about 40 years later.)
It is the most popular tourist spot in the world. Yep, you read that right- the world. It has close to 7 million visitors a year. Speaking of visitors, the English Prince of Wales at the time, later King Edward VII, was the person who opened the tower and accompanied Mr, Eiffel to the top when the Exhibition started.
The tower was almost pulled down in 1909 when the lease for the real estate expired but the antenna on top was being used for military purposes so it survived. The tower also played a role in capturing Mata Hari in WWI when that antenna intercepted a message from the Germans. The French decoded it and realized the person referred to as H-21 was Mata Hari and they arrested her.
Oh, and lest I forget, Eiffel even had an apartment at the top where he conducted experiments on weather phenomenon as well as air resistance on falling bodies (volunteers anyone?). I’ll pass on that – but wouldn’t it be a cool premise of a story?
The tower is gorgeous and offers some lovely views from the upper decks. The day I was there, the topmost deck was closed due to wind and expected rain so we were a bit disappointed not to be allowed up there. It was spectacular anyway.