Security fence around Eiffel Tower built to stop terrorists

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

Setting sun over the City of Lights

The Eiffel Tower, France's most iconic symbol, is getting a wrap-around fencing that will protect the 1,063 foot (324 meters) tower from an array of potential terror attacks. The thick, bullet-proof, glass is not only intended to guard against gunfire but is supposed to be strong enough keep suicide-minded truck drivers from reaching the tower's base.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

The glass and the tower

The bulletproof glass is 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) thick, and will run along at least two sides of the tower: the riverside Quai Branly boulevard and the Avenue Gustave Eiffel, which separates the tower from a park.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

A metal barrier, too

Two sides of the tower are being fenced off with curved metal prongs. The fencing will be 3.24 meters high - exactly one one-hundreth of the height of the Eiffel Tower.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

Tightening security in aftermath of attacks

Once upon a time tourists could walk straight up to the iconic tower without any barriers. But France remains on high alert following a series of deadly terror attacks that have killed more than 240 people since 2015.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

Under construction

The construction of a bulletproof glass barrier along one side of the Eiffel Tower is part of a broader €35 million ($41 million) security project.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

The tower and the glass

In addition to the new barrier, anti-terror troops patrol the tower and its surroundings. The forecourt, underneath the tower, has been protected by temporary fencing since June 2016.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

Enduring appeal?

The barrier is not expected to dent tourists' enthusiasm for the iconic site. As many as 7 million people are expected to visit the Eiffel Tower in 2018.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

Putting up a barrier

The security barrier, which should be completed in mid-July, is also part of a €300 million revamp of the Eiffel Tower itself. Most of the work is scheduled to be completed ahead of the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.

Eiffel Tower fenced off to guard against terror attacks

In the beginning

The tower is named after Gustave Eiffel, whose engineering company designed and built the structure from 1887-89. It initially served as the entrance to the World's Fair and marked the 100th anniversary of the start of the French Revolution.

The 3-meter-high glass and metal barrier is both bulletproof and strong enough to stop a truck on a suicide mission. France remains on a state of high alert since a series of terror attacks in 2015 left hundreds dead.

Thick bulletproof glass walls and metal fencing around the Eiffel Tower are intended to protect the nearly 7 million annual visitors to France's most popular landmark.

Politics | 13.09.2017

The security upgrade began last year, and comes after a series of attacks by Islamic militants that have left more than 240 people dead since 2015.

The new walls are part of a €35 million ($41 million) security upgrade due to be finished in mid-July.

The bulletproof glass is 6.5 cm (2.5 inches) thick and guards the Quai Branly Boulevard, which faces the river, as well as the Avenue Gustave Eiffel, which separates the "Iron Lady" from a park.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

December 11, 2018: Strasbourg shooting

A gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament. At least two people were killed and 12 injured. Prosecutors opened a terror investigation. France immediately raised its national security alert to its highest level in anticipation of copycat attacks.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

May 12, 2018: Paris knife attack

A man wielding a knife attacks bystanders in a central neighborhood in Paris, killing one person and wounding another four. French prosecutors open a terror probe into the attack, citing witness accounts that the assailant shouted "Allahu akbar" ("God is greatest"). The militant "Islamic State" (IS) group claims responsibility for the attack, calling the knifeman one of their "soldiers."

Terror attacks in France since 2015

March 23, 2018: Trebes hostage crisis

An attacker claiming allegiance to IS perpetrates a string of violent crimes in the southern town of Trebes during the morning hours. He kills a man while stealing a car and then fires shots at police officers before entering a Super U grocery store, where he takes hostages. Police shoot dead the attacker. Four people are killed, including including policeman Arnaud Beltrame.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

October 1, 2017: Marseille train station knife attack

A man fatally stabs two women at the Marseille train station. The perpetrator, Ahmed Hanachi, is shot dead by police on patrol. IS claims responsibility for the attack in a post by its news agency Amaq. In it, they call Hanachi one of the group's "soldiers." Two Interior Ministry officials resign after it is revealed that Hanachi was an undocumented immigrant who they had failed to detain.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

April 20, 2017: Champs-Elysees police shooting

A gunman opens fire on police on the Champs-Elysees, Paris' most iconic boulevard. One police officer is killed and two individuals are injured before police shoot the gunman dead. A note praising IS is found next to the gunman's body. The terrorist group also claims responsibility. The attack occurs just days before the first round of the French presidential election. Security is tightened.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

February 3, 2017: Machete attempt at Louvre

Soldiers shoot and severely injure a knife-wielding man outside the Louvre museum in Paris after he assails them. One soldier is lightly injured. The attacker had two further machetes in his backpack. A subsequent investigation reveals the Egyptian national had traveled to France from Dubai on a valid tourist visa. A Twitter account associated with the man's name refers to IS in posts.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

July 26, 2016: Murder of Normandy priest

Two teens enter a church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, Normandy and slit the throat of an 85-year-old priest in front of five parishioners. Police shoot the 19-year-olds dead as they try to leave. IS takes responsibility and publishes a video of the teens pledging allegiance to the group. Many French Muslims attend the next Sunday's Mass to show solidarity with Catholics and condemn the attack.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

July 14, 2016: Truck attack in Nice

On Bastille Day, France's national holiday, a truck drives through crowds in Nice that had gathered to watch the fireworks on a major seaside promenade. Before being shot dead by police, the driver kills 86 and injuries more than 400 others. IS claims responsibility, stating that the attacker had responded to IS calls to target civilians living in coalition nations fighting IS in Syria and Iraq.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

November 13, 2015: Paris attacks

France's most deadly terror attack: IS jihadis armed with automatic weapons and explosives undertake coordinated attacks in Paris including at the Bataclan concert hall, the national stadium and various street cafes. The mass shootings and suicide bombings kill 130 people, injuring hundreds more. IS claims responsibility. Then-President Francois Hollande calls it an act of war by IS.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

August 21, 2015: Thalys train tragedy averted

A deadly attack is averted: On a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris, a man opens fire with an assault rifle that subsequently jams. Other train passengers tackle the man, preventing deadly violence. Four are injured including the attacker. The assailant had been known to French security officials for past drug-related activities and statements in defense of radical Islamist violence.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

June 26, 2015: Beheading, truck explosion near Lyon

Yassin Salhi beheads his boss and displays the head, along with two Islamic flags, on the gate outside a gas plant near Lyon. He also tries to blow up the factory by driving his van into the gas cylinders. The attempt fails, but unleashes a smaller explosion, injuring two. French authorities claim links between the man and IS. He commits suicide in prison.

Terror attacks in France since 2015

January 7-9, 2015: Charlie Hebdo, Jewish supermarket attack

Two men with automatic guns storm the offices of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 and wounding 12 others. A different gunman kills a police officer the next day, then four more during a hostage-taking on January 9 at a kosher grocery. Police eventually shoot all three gunmen dead, but not before they claim allegiance to IS and al-Qaida.

Bernard Gaudillere, head of the SETE, the company which manages the Eiffel Tower, told journalists this week that the bulletproof glass is "rock-solid for absolute security." He assured reporters the glass would protect against vehicle-ramming attacks.

Maintaining aesthetics

The glass barrier will allow visitors to admire the views of the Eiffel Tower from the nearby Champ-de-Mars gardens to the other side of the Seine River, which cuts through Paris.

Read more: Charlie Hebdo attack anniversary

Metal barriers composed of curved prongs will guard the other two sides of the tower.

The entire security upgrade should be completed by September.

"When you are on site, you see that the 3-meter-high walls, compared to the scale of the monument, are absolutely not visible," said Jose Luis Fuentes, an architect at Dietmar Feichtinger Architects, which is in charge of the project. "It will really look as if the square [under the Eiffel Tower] was open."

Read more: Two years after Bataclan terror attacks

bik/rc (AFP, AP)