Paris has always been one of the major tourist destinations in Europe. The city is situated on the banks of the Seine River and is one of the largest European capitals. The metropolitan area of the city is one of the most populated in Europe, about 11.5 million people live in it. Paris is a leading political, business and cultural centre with a global influence on the arts and fashion. Many international organizations and large companies have their offices in the city. Paris is world-known with its neo-classical architecture and is a home to many museums, art galleries, historical monuments and recreation places.
The Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris. It is an iron structure erected on the Champ de Mars beside the Seine River. It is 324 m. high and stands out against the skyline of the city. The tower was built for the celebration of the French Revolution centenary and was inaugurated on March 31, 1889. The builder and architect of the tower, Gustave Eiffel is also famous for designing the iron backbone of the Statue of Liberty. The Eiffel Tower is the most visited building in the world. The annual flow of visitors is about 6 million a year, more than the Empire State Building with 3.6 million and the Tokyo Tower with 3 million. The tower was the tallest structure in the world for its times and replaced the Washington Monument. It remained so until 1930. The tower was struck by lightening in 1902 and 300 feet of the top were reconstructed. Today, the tower has 1660 steps to the top and elevators. It is made on several levels and is a host of several venues. The twinkling lights of the tower were at first made for the arrival of the year 2000. They did not function for about a year and were brought back in 2003. Today, the Eiffel Tower looks elegant and alive with 4 floodlights rotating on the top, which make it visible miles away from the city.
At the end of Champes-Elysees is the Arc de Triomphe. It is situated in the middle of the large circular square Place Charles De Gaulle, from which about 12 streets named after French military leaders emanate. Built between 1806 and 1808, it followed the model of the Arc of Constantine in Rome. It commemorated the victories of Napoleon and the grand army who had won them. The Arc de Tromphe is lavishly decorated in rose marble in the columns and the front paneling. The bronze horses on the top of the monument were taken from Sr. Marc in Venice. There are the names of generals who were in charge of the French troops during the regime of Napoleon engraved on the Arc. It is adorned with many bas-reliefs commemorating the battles of the emperor. The most famous one is the Departure of the Volunteers in 1972, also known as the Marseillaise. At the top of the monument there are 30 shields, each of them bearing the name of one of the successful battles of Napoleon. The Arc includes as well the Grave of the Unknown Soldiers from WWI. The Arc is a home of an observatory with glorious views of Paris and places in the city.
Notre Dame de Paris is a Holy place of worship, a premier tourist attraction and one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the city. It is located on the banks of the Seine River and in the eastern part of the Ile de la Cite. It is the place of residence of the archbishop of Paris for the Roman Catholic Church. It is a supreme example of the Rayonnant style. It has two massive towers from the Early Gothic period, which crown the western façade divided in three stories and doors adorned with carvings and surmounted by figures of the Old Testament kings. The western façade of the cathedral is the most famous sight for tourists. Stained glass is its major feature. A ‘Rose Window’ is an intricate and massive window located in the centre of the front. The southern tower houses Emmanuel bell cast in 1631. The connection between the two towers is the Grand Gallery, which holds the famous gargoyles of the cathedral.
Monmartre is a historic hill at an altitude of 130 meters in Paris and is crowned by the Sacre Coeur Basilica. It has always been connected with culture and trends and has many cafes and studios of many great artists. Sacre Coeur is a Byzantine basilica and is crowned by white elongated domes. The white stone whitens with age and gets more beautiful as time passes by. It has a bell weighing 19 tons, which can be heard from the distance. The remarkable statues on the façade are made of bronze and depict Joan of Arc, St. Luis and Christ with his hands raised in blessing. The interior of the basilica is adorned with mosaics and a figure of the Virgin and Child. Sacre Coeur was erected in 1914. It is an important place for pilgrimages of worshippers from all over the world. It is an imposing building and a landmark of Paris.
The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world and one of the most famous. It began as a fortress, later it was a royal residence and in 1793 it became a museum. It has an enormous and varied collection of 300 000 works of artists from all over the world. The art of works spans over 3000 years. The collections on display are: Western art from the Middle ages to 1848 and civilization, which have influenced it. There are the Oriental, Egyptian, Etruscan and Greek departments with art objects and graphic art. There is a section devoted to the history of the Louvre as well as divisions dedicated to Asian, African, Oceanic and American art. The latest addition to the museum was the Glass Pyramid, which is a combination of modern art and historic architecture. It allows light to penetrate to the underground floor.