11 Things About The Eiffel Tower You Probably Didn’t Know
The Eiffel Tower—or as the French call it, La Tour Eiffel—is one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks. The tower was designed as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris and was meant to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and show off France’s modern mechanical prowess on a world stage.
1. There’s a secret apartment at the top
When Gustave Eiffel designed his namesake tower, he cleverly included a private apartment for himself where he hosted famous guests, like Thomas Edison. The apartment is now open for the public to tour.
2. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be torn down
As mentioned before, the Tower was built with the intent of showing off France’s industrial prowess during the World’s Fair, but the plan was to tear it down after 20 years. Eiffel had cleverly put a radio antenna and wireless telegraph transmitter in the Tower, and the government eventually decided it was too useful to demolish.
3. Hitler ordered the Eiffel Tower to be destroyed
When Germany occupied France during the second World War, Hitler ordered that the Eiffel Tower be torn down, but the order was never followed through. French resistance fighters got their revenge, though—they cut the Tower’s elevator cables so the Nazis were forced to climb the stairs to hoist their flag
4. There’s a post office in the Eiffel Tower
Tucked into the first floor of the Tower next to the gift shops, there is a tiny post office. Pick up une carte postale and a stamp and have it mailed from the Eiffel Tower’s post office and it will be delivered with the unique postmark.
5. The Eiffel Tower doubled as a scientific laboratory
Mr. Eiffel housed a meteorology lab on the Tower’s third floor where he performed studies in physics, aerodynamics, and built a wind tunnel. Eiffel opened the doors of the laboratory to other scientists to use for the experiments, too, and cosmic rays were discovered there.
6. The Eiffel Tower moves
The massive iron structure is wind resistant and will sway during a storm. If the weather is bad enough, it can even move. Wind isn’t the only thing that can make the enormous Tower move, though—the heat of the sun also affects the Tower, causing the iron to expand and contract up to 7 inches.
8. The Eiffel Tower is covered in names of scientists
French scientists and engineers working in the 19th century were not forgotten by history—not only did they lend their names to Parisian streets, but 72 of their names are also engraved on the Eiffel Tower. The engraved tributes were covered up, but thanks to a restoration effort, they are once again visible and eagle-eyed visitors can see names like Foucault, Dumas, and Perrier cut into the iron.
9. There’s a military bunker underneath the Eiffel Tower
Underneath the Tower’s south pillar sits a snug bit of history—a secret military bunker that may connect to the nearby Ecole Militaire via a long tunnel. The bunker has now been turned into a small museum and tour groups can explore the diminutive space.
10. It takes a lot of work to keep the Eiffel Tower looking good
Every seven years, around 60 tons of paint are applied to the tower. It not only keeps the so-called Iron Lady (La dame de fer) looking good, but it also helps keep the iron from rusting.
11. There’s a Champagne bar at the top
If you’re brave enough to reach the top of the Tower, reward yourself with a glass of champagne from the Champagne Bar built into the top floor. There’s nothing like a glass of bubbly with a spectacular view.