Before it was built, the world’s tallest buildings were Gothic churches. Rising 324 m (1,063 ft) into the Parisian skies, the Eiffel Tower became the highest structure on Earth and held that title for more than 40 years.

Built as a viewing platform and entrance to the 1889 World Fair, the iron structure was designed to be dismantled after 20 years – but it has remained as a talisman and tourist attraction for the city of Paris.

It is so recognisable and familiar that it’s easy to take the Eiffel Tower for granted – until you see it up close and admire its ground-breaking French engineering.

The tower has always been illuminated by night, and its light show remains an attraction. Jonathan Glancey speaks with lighting designer Pierre Bideau, who explains how he created these spectacular effects and why he feels attached to the monument – like so many other admirers.

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