Eiffel Tower turns 120, gets birthday makeover

The Eiffel Tower celebrates its 120th anniversary Tuesday with a year-long project to apply a new coat of bronze paint. The once-controversial tower now boasts seven million visitors a year and is one of the world's most recognisable structures.


On Tuesday, March 31, Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower will celebrate its 120th birthday and, as a present, will receive a brand-new coat of paint.


The job will take over a year and will involve the painstaking labour of 25 painters applying over sixty tonnes of paint at a cost of 170 million euros.


This won’t be the Iron Lady’s first makeover. Designed by Gustave Eiffel and built for the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1889 to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution, the tower has had seventeen such cosmetic updates since its birth, changing colour several times, from brown-red to yellow to bronze.


Quoted in France’s daily Le Figaro, one of the painters chosen for the project spoke of his love for the job. “Once you’re up there, you forget the ground, your worries, the dangers, everything stays behind,” said Aderito Dos Santos Baptista.


There have never been any fatalities from the painting of the tower although there have been some injuries.


The first-floor restaurant, rebaptised ’58 Tour Eiffel’, will also be inaugurated after a complete renovation.


At 300 metres tall (324 metres with antennae) and weighing 7,000 tonnes, the Eiffel Tower was the world's tallest building until 1930. There are 1665 steps to the top. One of the most visited sites in the world, the tower can boast a new record with nearly seven million visitors in 2008.


If the Eiffel Tower was controversial at the time of its inception, it is now completely accepted and has become one of several symbols of Paris’s beauty.




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