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10 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Eiffel Tower On Its 125th Birthday

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About the Eiffel Tower On Its 125th Birthday

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It takes a lot of primping and priming to look good at 125 years old. Just ask the Eiffel Tower, arguably the most recognizable silhouette in the world. It marks the milestone on March 31.

When Gustave Eiffel built the latticed tower for the World Fair in 1889, it was supposed to be a temporary edifice, to be torn down in 20 years.

Today, the iconic French landmark is the most visited, paid monument in the world, attracting more than 7 million visitors a year. Seventy-five percent of them are foreign tourists.

Here are a few fun facts and figures about the Iron Lady:

1. Strange but true: In a commitment ceremony in 2007, an American woman ‘married’ the Eiffel Tower. Erika La Tour Eiffel (she changed her name) suffers from ‘Objectum-Sexual’ a condition in which people fall in love with inanimate objects.

2. Aging requires no small amount of cosmetic touch-ups: Every seven years, the Iron Lady undergoes a paint job that requires up to 60 tons of paint to protect her from rust.

3. The Eiffel Tower will shrink and grow by up to 15 cm (6 inches) with the fluctuating temperatures.

4. Every year, the combined distance traveled by the elevator lifts works out to be about 103,000 km a year — or 2.5 times the circumference of the Earth.

5. Technically, it’s illegal to publish photos of the illuminated tower at night. Permission and rights must be obtained from the “Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel.”

6. The tower is open every day. In a country that shuts down every Sunday, the tower is perhaps the only thing open 365 days a year including Christmas.

7. After the French, Italians, Spaniards and Americans make up the biggest visitors to the Eiffel Tower.

8. The tower has its own YouTube channel.

9. Eiffel paid homage to the great French men of science by engraving the names of 72 scientists, engineers and mathematicians on the four sides of the tower.

10. The nightly five-minute light show, which begins on the hour every hour from nightfall until 1 am, requires 20,000 light bulbs.