As one of the most famous landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris is hugely recognisable. Ahead of the 2024 Olympics, it is currently undergoing a makeover that will alter its outward appearance by making it brighter.

Constructed between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, or Exposition Universelle, the Eiffel Tower is a wrought iron lattice tower that stands 324 metres tall. It has been painted 19 times, a feat that takes 60 tonnes of paint. It has been a specially-designed shade of brown since 1968, but is currently being prepared to be painted a yellow-brown color, giving it a more golden hue when the work is finished.

During the makeover, which is costing an estimated €50 million ($60 million), previous layers of paint have to be stripped off. This is a hazardous process due to the presence of lead, and it requires a strict health protocol for workers. The paint covering the structure has been analysed by architects who deal specifically with Paris's historical monuments.

It may come as a surprise to some people to learn that the landmark was previously painted in brighter hues. When it was first erected, the tower was painted red at the request of its designer, Gustave Eiffel, and that colour was changed to ochre, or light orange, three years later. In 1899, it went very sunny altogether by being painted orange-yellow at its base and light yellow on top. It spent the 47 years from 1907 to 1954 covered in a yellow-brown shade before being painted a brown-red hue in 1968.

The Eiffel Tower will serve as a backdrop for the triathlon and open water swimming events in the 2024 Summer Olympics. More than 250 million people have visited the structure since it opened and over seven million people visit it annually, so it always needs to look its best.

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This article was first published March 2018 and updated February 2021

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