It lights up the Parisian sky and graces postcards, key chains and holiday photos, but new figures show that the Eiffel Tower is more than just an iconic tourist attraction -- it's the most valuable monument in Europe.
In fact, it's so valuable that its worth is six times the Tower of London's value and more than 40 times the value of Stonehenge. The puddled iron lattice beacon on the Champ de Mars is valued at a staggering €434.660 billion ($545.759 billion), according to a new study by Italy's Monza and Brianza Chamber of Commerce.
The study's authors note that the tower's artistic and cultural heritage is a major economic attractor, and based their findings, which are not based on the iconic tower's tangible assets but rather on its image, brand and visibility. The authors cross-referenced 10 different parameters from various analysts and statistics bodies to arrive at their results. The reputational value was then calculated on economic, cultural and business factors such as visitor flow, the number of employees in the tourism sector and the value of the territory.
The 1,050-foot-tall "Iron Lady" is not just the most valued monument in Europe, it's also the most visited, with eight million tourists annually. Built as the entrance arc for the 1889 World's Fair, now, over a century later, the study puts the Eiffel Tower's worth at the equivalent of 25 percent of France's GDP.
Italy's il Giornale paper, however, questioned if it was really worth as much as the study claims.
"Are we sure it's worth more than the Colusseum and Duomo combined? If the answer is 'no,' the logical conclusion is that in Italy we don't know how to make as much as we should out of the vast artistic and cultural heritage we possess."
Italy's Panorama magazine was equally critical: "Is this a surprising, outrageous and incredible assessment? Far from it ... We are confronted with the stark reality that our country no longer has confidence in itself, that it has lost its memory."
For a complete look at the most valuable monuments in Europe, according to the Italian study, press "Start."
Mark Johanson is the travel editor at the International Business Times. He has traveled to and written about more than 30 nations and territories on every continent except...