Eiffel Tower worth £344 billion to French economy - or six Towers of London
The Eiffel Tower has been declared the most valuable monument in Europe - worth 435 billion euros (£343 billion) to the French economy, a new study claims.
The venerable Paris landmark was estimated to be worth six times its nearest rival, the Colloseum in Rome, valued at 91 billion euros (£72 billion).
Britain’s most valuable monument was declared the Tower of London, worth 70.5 billion euros (£56 billion), with Stonehenge in seventh place, on 10.5 billion euros (£8.3 billion).
The study by Italy's Monza and Brianza Chamber of Commerce based its findings on a monument's “image, brand and visibility”, calculated by cross-referencing 10 different parameters from various analysts and statistics bodies.
Criteria included a “tourist index”, which took into account “the economic value of the location, the fame of the monument, the flux of visitors to the territory and monument” and an “economic attractiveness index”, comprising factors such as the number of jobs it created and its export value.
The huge value of the “Iron Lady” – as the 1,050ft tall edifice is affectionately known, amounts to almost a fifth of France's entire annual gross domestic product, Le Figaro pointed out.
The material and property value of any structure was not taken into account.
Other famous European landmarks on the list included the Duomo cathedral in Milan worth £65 billion, Madrid's Prado Museum worth £46 billion.
The French were delighted. "Cock a doodle doo!," crowed Libération.
The Italian media was horrified by the news that the Paris landmark was said to be worth twice as much as the annual wealth generated by the entire city of Milan.
Il giornale website asked: “Is the Eiffel Tower really worth that much? And above all, 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.”
The country's Panorama news magazine was equally hand-wringing: “Is this is a surprising, outrageous and incredible assessment? Not really. It forces us to face the harsh reality of a country that has lost its memory.”
Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is Europe's most visited monument, attracting almost eight million tourists a year.