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How much taller does the Eiffel Tower get in the summer and shrink in the winter?

The famous French monument, as well as other buildings, were built with materials that are sensitive to temperatures, so vary in size every year.

The famous French monument, as well as other buildings, were built with materials that are sensitive to temperatures, so vary in size every year.

The Eiffel Tower stands as one of the world’s most iconic landmarks. This edifice, amongst the most exquisite sites in Paris, has rightfully become a spectacular destination, where all tourists are forced to pause, and take in its grandeur amidst their visit to the capital of France. In fact, the statistics speak for themselves.

How many people visit the Eiffel Tower?

Nearly seven million individuals pay a visit to the monument designed by Gustave Eiffel each year. As time goes by, the allure of the place draws in an ever-increasing number of visitors, and over the decades, certain phenomena catch the attention of all who journey to the tower.

One of the most noteworthy phenomena associated with the Eiffel Tower is related to its size. This is because, during the summer months, the structure gains a few centimetres in height, while in the winter months in the Gallic city, the tower loses some of its stature

But what is the reason behind this occurrence?

La Torre Eiffel iluminada con los colores de la bandera olímpica por el lanzamiento de la candidatura de París como sede de los Juegos Olímpicos 2024.
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La Torre Eiffel iluminada con los colores de la bandera olímpica por el lanzamiento de la candidatura de París como sede de los Juegos Olímpicos 2024.BENOIT TESSIERREUTERS

Why the Eiffel Tower expands in summer and contracts in winter

This phenomenon has a relatively simple explanation. The cause of this event lies in the type of material used in constructing the building.

The Eiffel Tower was built using puddled iron, which is highly responsive to temperature fluctuations. This is why, when the temperature rises, the iron expands and leads to size variations.

Tourists enjoy the Parisien heat as a tower grows in the background.
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Tourists enjoy the Parisien heat as a tower grows in the background.Antoine Gyori - CorbisSygma via Getty Images

How much the Eiffel Tower changes?

Throughout the calendar year, there are height fluctuations of around 15 centimetres (six inches). When temperatures reach 104ºF / 40ºC in Paris, for example -- which is happening more and more -- it can grow by as much as 12 centimetres, a considerable increase in height. This is due to what is known as ‘thermal expansion’. It causes materials to respond accordingly to temperature changes based on the season.

However, this scientific fact isn’t restricted to just expansion. There can also be a contraction in temperature, causing materials to shrink. With lower temperatures, buildings constructed from sensitive materials, such as the iron of the Eiffel Tower, can be affected by this phenomenon, resulting in a reduction in size.

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