The Eiffel Tower: Different Perspectives

21 June 2013

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It is one of the most well-known buildings in the world. It is, possibly for that reason, easy to take it for granted when seen from afar. After all, by 2010 over 250 million people had visited it. Yet up close it reveals another side to its character.  When seen from different perspectives, the Eiffel Tower regains the power to astonish.

If you ever watch a film based in or with scenes set in Paris then you can guarantee that the establishing shot will be one of the Eiffel Tower.  Some filmmakers have even shown its destruction (with something approaching glee in a number of cases).  Yet the tower itself was not meant to be a permanent landmark of the French capital. It was built for the 1889 World Fair and was not supposed to stay in situ for more than twenty years.

Yet stay it did. It provoked a sustained barrage of criticism from French artisans who saw it as a monstrous slight to French taste.  The designer, Gustave Eiffel, responded by (rather grandiosely) comparing his tower to the Egyptian pyramids.  In a more philosophical mood he also added: Do not the laws of natural forces always conform to the secret laws of harmony?

Guy de Maupassant, one of the fathers of the modern short story, was one who remained unconvinced. Yet after its construction he famously ate in the tower’s restaurant every day.  Why? It was the only place in the whole of Paris where it could not be seen.  Yet history has not landed on the side of de Maupassant.  Today it is considered one of the most remarkable pieces of structural art ever built.

When you get close up it is easy to see why.

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The Great Wall of China: Different Perspectives
If you enjoyed this look at the Eiffel Tower, then we have another treat in store for you.

China’s Great Wall – created over centuries to protect the Chinese Empire from intrusion and invasion – is one of the world’s best know sights. Yet again and again we see the same stretch of wall, the same throngs of tourists, soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army and a stream of visiting politicians. Takes these elements away and there is a sublime change - a shift in perception. Here is the Great Wall of China from various diverse perspectives, some stretches of the wall you may not be familiar with and hardly a tourist or soldier in sight. The Great Wall of China suddenly becomes a mystery again, inscrutable and elegant, unfathomable and incredible.

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