The Eiffel Tower, which has become the symbol of Paris, was erected for the World Fair in 1889. A masterpiece designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, it is altogether 1050 feet high, an extremely light, interlaced structure made of 15000 pieces of metal welded together.
Its weight of 7000 tons rests on four huge piers with cement bases. It has three floors: the first at 187 feet, the second at 337, and the third at 899. Bars and restaurants on the first two allow the tourist to pause and enjoy the astonishing view and splendid landscape. On days of perfect visibility, the eye can see almost 45 miles.
This carpet of green stretching beneath the Eiffel Tower was originally a military parade ground but was later transformed into a garden. During the Ancien Regime and the Revolution, many festivals were held there, including the famous Festival of the Supreme Being, introduced by Robespierre and celebrated on 8 June 1794. In modern times, the area has been the site of numerous World Fairs.
Today the garden, the design of which was supervised by Formige between 1908 and 1928, is divided by wide paths and embellished by small lakes, watercourses, and flower beds.
Stretching between Place Vauban and the Esplanade des Invalides, this vast complex of building includes the Hotel des Invalides, the Dome, and the church of St-Louis. The whole construction, which Louis XIV ordered built and the commission for which was given to Liberal Bruant in 1671, was designed as a refuge for old and invalid soldiers, who were often forced to beg for a living. The vast square of the Esplanade ( 1704 – 1720 ) is 520 yards long and 270 yards wide, creating perfect surroundings for the Hotel.
In the garden in front of the Hotel bronze cannon of the 17th and 18th century are lined up, eighteen pieces belonging to the “triumphal battery”, which were fired only on important occasions. The facade, 643 feet long, has four orders of windows and a majestic portal in the center, surmounted by a relief representing Louis XIV with Prudence and Justice at his sides. In the courtyard, the four sides consist of two levels of arcades, and the pavilion at the end becomes the facade of the church of St-Louis. In the center is the statue by Seurre depicting Napoleon ( previously on top of the Vendome Column ).
The church of St-Louis-des-Invalides, designed by Hardouin-Mansart, has three aisles. Many flags hang from its walls. In the crypt, Rouget de Lisle, author of the Marseillaise, is buried together with the Marshals of France and Governors des Invalides.
The Ecole Militaire, the French Military Academy, stands at the end of the panoramic Champ-de-Mars. Built on the initiative of the financier Paris-Duverney and of Madame Pompadour, who wanted young men of the poorer classes to be able to take up military careers, it was constructed between 1751 and 1773 by the architect Jacques-Ange Gabriel. The facade has two orders of windows and in the center is a pavilion with columns that support the pediment, decorated with statues and covered by a cupola.
The graceful Courtyard of Honour has a portico of twin Doric columns and the facade is formed by three pavilions linked by two rows of columns. Still in use as a military academy today, it was entered in 1784 by Napoleon Bonaparte, who left the following year with the rank of second lieutenant in the artillery.
MAISON DE L’U.N.E.S.C.O. – Standing behind the Military Academy, it was constructed in 1955-1958 by three great modern architects: the American Breuer, the Italian Nervi, and the Frenchman Zehrfuss. They planned it as a Y-shaped building, with large windows and a curving front. Great artists collaborated in the decoration and embellishment of the vast complex, among them Henry Moore, Calder, Miro, Jean Arp, Picasso, and Le Corbusier.