Eiffel tower

The Eiffel Tower turns off its lights – and here’s why it matters

The Eiffel Tower turns off its lights and, by extension, the entire Parisian skyline could soon darken a bit. Later this week, Paris City Hall is expected to propose that the tower light be shut off an hour earlier than it is now, according to a report in The Guardian. If implemented, the Eiffel Tower would turn off at 11:45 p.m. instead of 1 a.m.

The plan comes as Europe faces a growing energy crisis, largely due to the cascading impacts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the move, like the tower itself, is largely symbolic. The tower’s chief executive, Jean-Francois Martins, told the publication that the gesture was “part of a growing awareness around energy sobriety.” Currently, only 4% of the tower’s annual energy consumption comes from evening lighting.

With the current proposal, the tower light will turn off one hour earlier.

Photo: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images

Described by European officials as “energy blackmail”, Russia has nearly cut off all access to the natural gas the continent has depended on for years, while European nations back Ukraine. The result is soaring energy prices for both individuals and organizations, prompting cities to implement energy-saving measures. Paris would not be the first city to reduce the night lighting of cultural sites or monuments, even if in other places, the choice is often more of a necessity than an observation. Just last month, cities across Germany implemented several strategies to save energy, including turning off the lights of 200 monuments and government buildings.

The plan proposed by the city council does not appear to affect the monument’s twinkling nighttime light show. Currently, the tower sparkles for five minutes every hour from dusk until the last manifestation at 1 a.m. In this final iteration, all structural lights are turned off, leaving only the flickering ones until the tower goes completely black. While it’s unclear exactly how this closing show will change, it’s likely to still take place at the very end of the evening lighting period, ending around 12:45 a.m.

Although it was built in 1887, the Eiffel Tower was first illuminated as we know it today in 1985. Previously, ten thousand gas lamps were used to highlight the structure, external floodlights adding additional spotlights to the base.