The history of the Eiffel Tower starts with a humiliating military defeat. It happened like this — In 1870, Napoleon III got France into an ill-advised war with militarily-superior Prussia. The first battle of the Franco-Prussian War was on July 31, 1870. It didn't take long for things to go downhill for the emperor. Only a few weeks later, on September 2, the French army was defeated, Napoleon III himself was captured, and the emperor abdicated.
1. Skip-the Line Eiffel Tower Tour… Don't waste your precious time in Paris standing in line
2. Dinner on the Eiffel Tower at Madame Brasserie… Reserve a table for a stunning view
3. Dinner Cruise + Eiffel Tower + Moulin Rouge… An evening out on the town
The Prussian army surrounded and laid siege to Paris; it lasted until January 28, 1871. This was a tough period for Parisians, and for the famous Impressionist painters who lived there, some of whom manned the ramparts. Parisians were so pressed for food that they ate the animals in the zoos. Finally, an armistice was hammered out and, in February 1871, the Prussian army withdrew.
But it wasn't yet over for Parisians. Following the departure of the Prussian army a sort of socialist republic was established in Paris called the Paris Commune. The Commune engaged in battles with French government troops, causing further deaths and damage in Paris before the rebels were defeated by government troops. The whole thing lasted just over two months.
Now we're getting to the Eiffel Tower. During the 1870s France struggled to regain its pride, its stability, and to understand its place in the world. Before the Franco-Prussian War, in 1867, Napoleon III had commissioned another in a series of Expositions Universelles on the Champs de Mars to trumpet the glories of modern France and of his empire. Dozens of nations from around the world participated.
In an attempt to bolster its flagging spirits France held another Exposition Universelle in 1878, once again on the Champs de Mars. Millions of people attended and French spirits were raised. So, another, even grander exposition was planned for 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The organizing committee declared that a grand landmark was needed to celebrate France and its revolution. And — here's where the Eiffel Tower comes in — an engineer named Gustave Eiffel had an idea…
VIP Dinner Cruise with Bateaux Parisiens
Dinner Cruise by Maxim's of Paris
Ecole Militaire at night, with the Champ de Mars in the foreground
Like the previous Expositions Universelles the 1889 World's Fair (for that is what the expositions were) was to be held on the Champs de Mars, a military parade ground located in front of the military school. The École Militaire had been founded in 1750 with the support of the famous Madame de Pompadour; the building was completed by 1765. Twenty years later the school accepted a young cadet named Napoleon Bonaparte, who managed to graduate in one year instead of two.
A place to practice military drills was needed, so a 48-hectare parcel of land between the École Militaire and the Seine was set aside for this purpose. It was named Champ de Mars, after the Roman god of war. In 1783 the world's first hydrogen-filled balloon was launched from here.
More notoriously, it was the site of the Champs de Mars Massacre during the French Revolution. On July 17 1791, a large republican crowd gathered to protest the decision by the National Assembly to retain the king as a constitutional monarch. When the National Guard tried to disperse the crowd stones were thrown, bullets were fired and up to fifty people were killed.
If you were to have visited the champ during certain years of the 19th century you would have found it covered by massive structures to house the various national displays for that year's exposition. In 1878 the main building alone covered 22 hectares. Once the expositions were over the buildings were removed. International Expositions were held here in 1867, 1878, 1889 and 1900.
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Half-Day, Skip-the-Line Tour of Versailles
The Eiffel Tower is the most visited monument in the world, and the line-ups are daunting. So, the best way to visit the Tower is to book a skip-the-line tour before you leave home. It's the way we do it. Your guide whisks you past the crowds (as much as possible, there's still security to pass through), into the elevator, and up the tower. You don't want to waste your time in Paris waiting in lines, do you?
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250 workers. 2 years 2 months 5 days. 200,000,000 people. 300 meters — A great monument not only has an interesting history, it also has fascinating stories, facts, details and more information than you probably need to know! Three different colors of paint?
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