The Eiffel Tower is closed while workers strike on the 100th anniversary of its founder’s death

PARIS (AP) — The Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors Wednesday because of a strike over contract negotiations timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the death of its creator, Gustave Eiffel.

One of the world’s most-visited sites, the Eiffel Tower is typically open 365 days a year — though it is occasionally affected by strikes — and is expected to play a central role in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Some tourists were visibly dismayed upon seeing a big sign beneath its iron façade announcing the closure in multiple languages, and apologizing for the inconvenience. Others took photos anyway, or rearranged their Paris plans.

Visitors could still access the glass-enclosed esplanade beneath the tower Wednesday but could not enter the 300-meter (984-foot) landmark itself. Stephane Dieu of the CGT union said it was slated to reopen Thursday.

The strike was declared ahead of contract negotiations expected next month with the city of Paris, which owns the 134-year-old monument, said a spokesperson for the company that manages the tower, SETE.

Unions said the tower’s 400 workers are worried about long-term prospects for the monument.

’’We had COVID. We lost a year of revenue. We have huge debts,” Dieu told the Associated Press. ‘’The tower is more than 130 years and is starting to get tired. There’s a lot of renovation work that needs to be done in the coming years and decades. The management company needs the means to face this.”

He said the strike was a ‘’symbolic action on a symbolic day, to commemorate the anniversary of Eiffel’s death and to conserve his work.”

Standing beneath the tower, Dutch tourist Istvan Harman was pragmatic about the closure, saying simply, ‘’you have to go somewhere else.”

But it was a blow for the Fontaine family.

“It’s the first time we’ve been to Paris with the children and it was the first activity on the program. And so we were really disappointed to see that the Eiffel Tower was closed today,” mother Emma Fontaine said.

The attraction normally sees about 20,000 visitors per day this time of year, said the spokesperson, who was not authorized to be publicly named according to tower management policy.

A special music show marking the death of Gustave Eiffel on Dec. 27, 1923, was still scheduled to air on social networks and French television Wednesday night because it was prerecorded, the spokesperson said.