What Are the 11 Most Interesting Facts About the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic monuments in the entire world. We look at some of the most fascinating facts surrounding its 130 year history.

Apr 26, 2023By Rosie Lesso, MA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine Art

eiffel tower incredible facts


The Eiffel Tower is the ultimate symbol of Paris, towering over the city with its distinctive lattice structure that curves upwards towards the sky. Once the tallest building in the world, the Eiffel Tower became a symbol of ingenuity and modernity during the 20th century. Since then, it is the inimitable, historical icon of Paris, attracting millions of tourists every year. It can also be seen from much of Paris, making it an important emblem for the people who live there. We take a look through some of the most fascinating and unusual facts about the Eiffel Tower in order to celebrate this marvel of architectural engineering.


1. It Was Designed by Gustave Eiffel

gustave eiffel photo portrait
Portrait of Gustave Eiffel in the late 19th century


The Eiffel Tower was designed by the esteemed engineer Gustave Eiffel, who ran a busy workshop in Levallois Perret, near Paris. His engineering company specialised in metal frameworks, many of which featured the same distinct lattice metalwork seen in the Eiffel Tower. Some of his most notable constructions include the Porto Viaduct in Portugal, the Viaduct du Garabit in France, and the metal framework for the Statue of Liberty. Eiffel won an open competition to design the Eiffel Tower, which was to be the crowning glory during the Paris World Fair of 1889.


2. It Took 22 Months to Complete


The construction of the Eiffel Tower took around 22 months to complete, a remarkable feat for the time, when workers had far fewer of the machines and tools we rely on today. Miraculously, given how high workers had to climb, no one was killed or hurt during the tower’s construction.


3. The Eiffel Tower Is Made of Iron

eiffel tower germaine krull
Eiffel Tower, Métal by Germaine Krull, 1927, via The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

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Gustave Eiffel had a reputation for producing iron monuments which could withstand all weather conditions, and the Eiffel Tower was no exception. He used a particular type of iron for the tower called ‘Puddle Iron’, derived from the Pompey Forges in the East of France. The name of this iron comes from the refining or ‘puddling’ process the metal goes through, which eliminates excess carbon after melting the ore. Gustave argued this type of iron was the strongest and most robust building material in the world. 


4. The Eiffel Tower Has Three Floors


The Eiffel Tower has three floors in total, all of which are open to visitors. The first two floors are accessible by stairs and an elevator, while the top level, or summit, must be climbed by steps. The first two floors feature restaurants and cafes, while on each level there is an observational deck for looking out into the city of Paris from on high. 


5. It’s as heavy as an Entire Freight Train

eiffel tower champs de mars paris exposition 1889
Eiffel Tower and exhibition buildings on the Champ de Mars as seen from Trocadero, Paris Exposition, 1889 via Library of Congress, Washington


Perhaps unsurprisingly, the weight of the Parisian tower is impressively high, coming in at about the same weight as an entire freight train. In total, estimates suggest it is around 10,100 tons. The metal framework alone weighs around 7,300 tons, while the thick layer of protective paint on its surface is 60 tons!


6. The Eiffel Tower Has to be Repainted Every 7 Years

eiffel tower repainting
Repainting the Eiffel Tower.


Under Gustave Eiffel’s strict instruction, the Eiffel Tower must be repainted with a thick layer of protective paint every 7 years, in order to protect the iron from the corrosive effects of the weather. The Parisian government have stuck to these conditions over the past century, which is one of the reasons why it still appears in such pristine condition today. Over the years, the tower has been painted various different colors, from the original reddish-brown shade to bright yellow. In 1968, a specially mixed paint shade called “Eiffel Tower Brown”, was adopted by the French, which is still in use today.


7. Artists Staged a Protest About the Eiffel Tower

eiffel tower world exposition
The Tower during a Paris World Exposition


The tower was not universally accepted by Parisians in its day – in fact, a group of 300 artists and academics staged an angry protest calling for its immediate removal, referring to the tower as “…the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower,” likening it to a “gigantic black factory chimney.”


8. It Has Limited Visitor Capacity


The Eiffel Tower might be a hefty monument, but it still does have a limited visitor capacity of 5,000, to be split over different levels at the same time, because of the tower’s tapered shape. The first and largest level can carry the weight of 3,000 people, the second level is narrower, and can hold around 1,600, while the much smaller top level can house only 400 people. 


9. It Was Once the Tallest Building in the World

eiffel tower modern day photo


The Eiffel Tower was part of the ‘race to the sky’ in the late 19th century, and it hit the record for the world’s tallest building in 1889, at 986 feet. However, it only stayed in the top spot for four decades, after which time both the Chrysler Building, followed by the Empire State Building set new records. 


10. Smaller Replica Eiffel Towers Exist Around the World


The tower is so famous today that a series of small replica towers of the same design have been created in cities around the world. These include Las Vegas, Tokyo, Brazil, Riga, and Sydney.


11. The Eiffel Tower is Going Gold ahead of the 2024 Olympics


In 2024, The Eiffel Tower will be revamped with a golden paint hue, to coincide with the 2024 Paris Olympics. The repainting job will be one of the tower’s most extensive revamps in 130 years.

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By Rosie LessoMA Contemporary Art Theory, BA Fine ArtRosie is a contributing writer and artist based in Scotland. She has produced writing for a wide range of arts organizations including Tate Modern, The National Galleries of Scotland, Art Monthly, and Scottish Art News, with a focus on modern and contemporary art. She holds an MA in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Edinburgh and a BA in Fine Art from Edinburgh College of Art. Previously she has worked in both curatorial and educational roles, discovering how stories and history can really enrich our experience of art.