Whether you're lucky enough to have visited Paris or have only ever dreamed of going there, chances are you know of the French capital's most beloved landmark: the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel in French, was the main exhibit of the Paris Exposition — or World's Fair — of 1889. It was constructed to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution and to demonstrate France's industrial prowess to the world.
"Although at the beginning it was seen as 'the ugliest building in Paris,' soon it became the symbol of the city," said Tea Gudek Snajdar, an Amsterdam-based art historian, museum docent and a blogger at Culture Tourist.
Construction of the Eiffel Tower
The Tower's construction in a few figures: 18,038 metal parts ; 5,300 workshop drawings ; 50 engineers and draughtsmen ; 150 workers employed at the Levallois-Perret factory ; between 150 and 300 workers on the construction site ; 2,500,000 rivets ; 7,300 tonnes of iron ; 60 tonnes of paint.
A hallmark of modern architecture
The Eiffel Tower is unquestionably modern in its shape, which is distinct from the Neo-Gothic, Neo-Renaissance and Neo-Baroque styles that were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to Gudek Snajdar. But its material truly made it stand out.
"The Eiffel Tower was one of the first examples of the modern architecture because of the iron," said Gudek Snajdar. "And the fact that the building didn't have any purpose in particular." It existed purely to demonstrate French architectural creativity and skill with materials to the world; it was imbued with meaning but not utility.
"That's why it's a great example of a modern architecture. It's democratic and not only available to a few of a wealthy people. But people of a different social background could use it and enjoy it."
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