The Eiffel Tower lights and illuminations
Paris, the capital city of France is often called the city of lights and for very good reason, as numerous monuments and landmarks are lit up to provide spectacular illuminations and light shows of an evening, especially if you are go for a cruise along the River Seine.
But when anyone goes on holiday to Paris they will automatically think of the most famous landmark in France, which is of course the Eiffel tower and the lights and illuminations on this monument are spectacular and a sight not to be missed.
10,000 gas lights
Because of its size and structure, even for the initial inauguration back in 1889, the Paris council wanted the Eiffel Tower to be a focus and hence they wanted it lit up, and so, on the night of the inauguration there were 10,000 gas lights that lit up the tower along with two large projectors that were installed on the top floor of the tower so they could illuminate other monuments in Paris.
There was also a continuous beacon of blue red and white added, which at the time was the most powerful beacon in the world and after the initial opening of the Eiffel Tower, the iron lady as she is also known, was lit up with the gaslights every night for all to enjoy.
Yet, by 1900 the lighting went electric with an impressive 5,000 bulbs and then in 1907 a 6 metre high clock was installed on the second floor to tell the time in luminous colours and after World War I the tower became a beacon for aircraft.
The Eiffel Tower has always been at the forefront of sophisticated lighting with some spectacular shows and events and on special occasions the tower is often changed to provide different lighting effects.
However, this all started when Andre Citroen, who started the Citroen motor company in Paris, liked the idea of a light show so much he donated a large sum of money to make this happen. So, in 1925 a device that had 250,000 light bulbs of different colours was installed onto the Eiffel tower and the very first light show took place on 4th July 1925.
The name Citroen was also on three sides of the tower and could be seen from approximately 40 kilometres away, then in 1933 Citroen donates a clock which was actually 15 metres in diameter with hands that lit up to tell the time.
But unfortunately, the light shows were deemed to be too costly and eventually these stopped in 1936, yet in 1937 for the Arts and Techniques Exhibition there was a frame built underneath the first floor platform that was to hold a giant chandelier with 10km of fluorescent tubes along with 30 searchlights that threw reflections of gold blue and red.
Designed to light up the Eiffel Tower every evening, in the May of 1958 there were 1,290 projectors, which were installed in wholes that were dug into the Champ de Mars, but of course, as time has gone on, energy efficiency has become a major concern and in 1985 a restoration programme was put in place to change these.
This completely new device, which was designed by the lighting engineer Pierre Bideau was inaugurated on 31st December 1985 and there are now 336 projectors that light up this landmark in Paris from the bottom utilising high-pressure sodium lamps and eight incandescent projector lamps on the top. And the power that these has saved means it has gone from 620kW down to 320kW, however the lamps do have to be replaced approximately every three years.
Now we mentioned earlier that the Eiffel Tower has become renowned for its spectacular light shows and we thought that we must let you know about some of the Eiffel Tower illuminations that have taken place over the last few years..
1000 days to the Millennium
- On the 5th April 1997 a countdown light of 1000 days to the Millennium was activated at midnight and this countdown timer was 33m high and 12m wide, weighing in at 50 tons and was located 100m above the ground that changed the number daily at midnight and was illuminated night and day.
- For the Millennium celebrations there was a fabulous fireworks display and the new 20,000 sparkling lights were revealed that were turned on for ten minutes every hour of an evening.
- All through the year 2000 there was a light counter displaying Year 2000 and at the end of the year, the lighting is changed to a blue colour for a few nights in order to celebrate this new Millennium.
- Unfortunately, the twinkling lights would not continue to last, but these were replaced in 2003 and will last for ten years and were originally meant to be on for ten minutes every hour, however, this now only happens for five minutes on the hour every evening until 1am.
- To mark the Chinese New Year celebrations and the France-China cultural exchange programme, on the 24th January 2004, for the first time in the history of the Eiffel Tower, through the use of external projectors the tower had a red glow.
- At midnight on the 8th May 2006, the Eiffel Tower took on a different colour again. This time it was blue in celebration of Europe Day.
- In 2007, there was special lighting at the Eiffel Tower yet again, and this time it was to celebrate the Rugby World Cup. The iron lady went green in colour to represent the rugby field with a illuminated goal, a 85m cross beam and a 13m long rugby ball attached to the second floor. But in addition to this, there was a 120m square screen put in place so that people could watch the games.
- To mark the 120th Anniversary of the Eiffel Tower, there was another light show spectacular put in place in the October of 2009 that lasted right through to the end of December. This time, again thinking about energy efficiency, LED lighting was utilised on the Trocadero façade and the magical show was run for approximately 10 minutes after the 5 minute sparkle at set hours of the evening.
So if you do wish to see the Eiffel Tower all lit up or the sparkling lights on the hour, then for the very best view of this icon, you need to be at the Trocadero side as you can see the whole tower from there.