The iconic Eiffel Tower is putting the finishing touches on a $40 million security upgrade to prevent the tourist attraction from falling victim to a terrorist attack.
On Thursday, Paris officials unveiled the 10-foot-tall bulletproof glass barriers that will cover two sides of the tower. When the project is completed, 450 clear panes measuring 2.36-inches thick will guard access to the tower from the south and north, the New York Post reported.
In addition, 420 cement blocks will block vehicle access to the glass.
The other two avenues of approach will be blocked by metal barriers that are slightly more than 10 feet tall, according to the BBC.
Nearly 250 people have been killed in terror attacks in France since 2015. The attacks led to constant security patrols at the site, as well as temporary barriers, which will be replaced by the permanent security structures.
“The square of the Eiffel Tower was still, at the time, accessible to anyone very easily,” said Bernard Gaudillère, president of the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, according to ABC News. “Therefore we decided to build a new perimeter around the Eiffel Tower to increase the security.”
“It will look much better than the temporary barriers that were installed two years ago, but most importantly, the security of our visitors will be increased, and this is our absolute priority,” said Alain Dumas, technical director of the company that runs the site.
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The choice of materials was not an accident. The bulletproof glass was selected so that visitors can see the city from the Eiffel Tower.
“When you are on site, you see that the 3-meter high walls, compared to the scale of the monument, are absolutely not visible. It will really look as if the square (under the Eiffel Tower) was open,” said Jose Luis Fuentes, an architect at Dietmar Feichtinger Architects, which oversees the project, according to Britain’s The Sun.
Gaudillère said the new walls were “rock-solid for absolute security.”
Officials said the work was necessary to protect the monument.
“Sadly, the risk of terrorism hasn’t gone away,” deputy mayor Jean-François Martins said in 2017 as the work began, according to Britain’s The Independent.
“This is a necessity in terms of security, but it will also make it possible to re-establish a link between the forecourt of the monument and the gardens,” he said.
Martins was also careful in his choice of words to describe the security structure.
“It’s not a wall, it’s an aesthetic perimeter,” he said.
During 2016, the number of visitors to the Eiffel Tower dropped to a 15-year low, Gaudillère said, before bouncing back in 2017 and 2018. In a normal year, about 7 million people visit the tower.
The Eiffel Tower opened in 1889 as part of the Paris Exposition.
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