The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris and was inaugurated on 31st March 1889. It has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest building in Paris and the most-visited admission fee monument in the world. Named for its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.
The tower stands three hundred and twenty-three metres tall, about the same height as an eighty story building. Upon its completion, it surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for forty-one years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930; however, due to the addition in 1957 of the antenna (if you can count an antenna), the tower is now taller than the Chrysler Building again. The tower has three levels for visitors and you can get to the first two via six-hundred steps but the third and highest level is accessible only by elevator.
I have visited the Eiffel Tower four times; in 1979 on a Town Twinning visit to Evreux in Normandy, in 1990 on a weekend trip with some work colleagues to celebrate a new career, in 2002 with my son Jonathan and finally in 2004, the last time that I visited Paris. Unfortunately on every occasion the weather has been overcast and I have never enjoyed the clear views that should really be possible from the top.
But I have seen sunshine from the top of another Eiffel inspired structure, the Ponte Dom Luis I in Porto, which is an iron bridge designed by Téophile Seyrig a student of Gustav Eiffel. From the top elevation there were unbeatable views of the river, the old town and Vila Nova de Gaia, a sister city on the other side of the river. The Douro is the eighth longest river in Western Europe (the eighteenth in all of Europe) and flows through Spain and Portugal and meets the Atlantic Ocean at Porto. It was simply fabulous walking across the bridge, the sun was shining, the river was a glorious shade of deep indigo blue and the tiles on the coloured houses on either side reflected the sun and made everywhere look cheerful and happy.