It’s big, it’s tall, it dominates the landscape, and best of all it’s not another religious edifice. It was not put on the highest point dominating the city as a show of power by the church over the people. Better yet, it was built purely for enjoyment of those attending the 1889 World’s Fair. It ranks as the most visited paid-for site in the world. But most importantly, it is the symbol people most associate with Paris.
On a clear day you see it towering over the city. On a typical fall day you see it disappearing into the fog. But you always know it’s there and find yourself looking for it. By night it is lit and searchlights scan across the sky from the top. And on the hour it sparkles brilliantly in a 5 minute show of splendor and 20,000 flash bulbs.
The tower has a fascinating history. At one time it was almost torn down. It withstood Hitler’s invasion and plans to destroy it as the Germans were losing the war. There’s a lot of information about it; even some of it is even interesting to the non-engineer types.
To me it is the symbol that best represents the Paris and France today. Not one of the religious excesses of the past but a secular monument that displays France’s humanist freedoms. W