October 24, 2010

Jaan Alliksoo, Hiiumaa Eiffel Tower/Eiffel Tower of Hiiumaa

The Eiffel Tower is a beloved source of inspiration for creators of outsider environments. In a lot of sites this construction is reproduced, like in this one in Estonia.

Life and works

Jaan Alliksoo (1961?) has never been in Paris and he knows the Eiffel Tower only from picture postcards and the internet. He lives on the isle of Hiiumaa, in size the second isle of Estonia, situated in the northwestern part of the country, in the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Sweden. 

Aliksoo, who has a job as a constructor of wooden furniture and garden utensils and has no architectural training, single-handedly constructed this high-rising wooden replica of the Eiffel tower, which is situated in the garden around his house.

 this picture aslo courtesy of  "outsider inside Estonia"

A history of many towers 

It is a recent construction but the local and family history says there were predecessors. 

The family house is located close to the sea, and the tradition has it that some 300 years ago there used to be a fake lighthouse nearby, run by a count Egelhard, a construction meant to fatally attract ships to the shore, to rob them (and kill the sailors). 

This may be true or not, in the beginning of the 19th century, for sure there was a tower in situ. Aliksoo remembers very well the story of his aunt, who told him that in 1915 she climbed a tower situated near the family house.

This one has not stood the years and has disappeared,

In 1978 Allliksoo, at the age of 17,  constructed a new tower, 17.5 m high, meant to watch the cattle in the neighbouring meadows. This one lasted for some nine years. and then had served its time. 

So Alliksoo constructed another tower, which lasted untill 1997.

Hiummaa Eiffel tower

Alliksoo's latest tower is the one nowadays still present, named Hiummaa Eiffel, realized within four months and finished in 2007. The tower, 31,4 m high, is a 1:10 replica of the one in Paris, made from juniper wood. It's parts are fixed together with iron nails and ropes.

Alliksoo relates that he made this creation to the memory of his wife, who had passed away. The idea to copy the Eiffel tower was spontaneous, but, as he says on one of his websites: "Paris and the Eiffel Tower everywhere in the world are associated with l'amour"

Dispute with the local authorities

The tower has been erected without any building permit and the local authorities, not convinced of the safety of the tower, in 2008 initiated a procedure to achieve breakdown of the tower.

This has been going on for some years. At one moment the authorities seem to have accepted a status quo, stabilty and safety test have been performed and according to a july 2012 newspaper report the building permit retroactively has been granted.

A touristic site 

The story of Hiumaa's Eifel Tower has been related in Estonian newspapers and on televison (not only Estonian tv, BBC and Russian tv also came by), and the publicity resulted in thousands of tourists who visited the site during the last years. The project also has raised interest in Estonian artistic circles.

*Alliksoo's own website Hiiumaa "Eiffel".
* His personal appeal to help him save the tower is on another website (also in french)

Jaan Alliksoo
Hiiumaa Eiffel
Reigi, Hiiumaa, Estonia
visitors welcome

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