Eiffel Tower (1889)
An Iron Tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris
When one thinks of Paris, the image of the Eiffel Tower tends to immediately spring to mind, although the city is brimming with famous buildings and art. It is an icon not just of a feat of engineering, design or Paris itself, but of France and French culture more generally. Named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, the 324m iron lattice structure was the tallest building in the world from 1889 to 1930. In addition, it is the most visited paid monument in the world, with over seven millions visitors per year. Therefore it is plain to see the invaluable and far-reaching role it can play in French cultural diplomacy, where it is able to serve as a reference point for French culture for people from all corners of the earth.
The 'Exposition Universelle' of 1889
When the construction by Gustav Eiffel was built for the 1889 World's Fair as an entrance arch, no one would have thought it would become such great icon. It was a symbol for the French Revolution that happened exactly one hundred years before, meant to be broken down after the exhibition. As a symbol for the exhibition too, it was representing the cultural exchange between the countries. All participating countries had their space, where they showed their latest technological inventions, their colonial power and cultural richness.
Reception of the Eiffel Tower
In the beginning, people critizised the Eiffel Tower because of the blatant use of metal. Most famous is Guy de Maupassant, who said that he left Paris and even France, because the Eiffel Tower was finished and it annoyed him so much. Also it is said that he went to dinner in the Eiffel Tower every night, because it was the only place in his beloved city where he could not see the Eiffel Tower itself. And still the impact of the Eiffel Tower is so great, that it is still impossible to avoid its image.