Experience London from a different perspective by viewing the capital from one of its breathtaking skyscrapers. It’s a great way to take in the views, identify famous landmarks and follow the path of the River Thames as it snakes its way through the city. Here are some of London’s sky high architectural highlights, with a bit of history too:
One of the most famous and recognisable sights in London, St Pau’ls Cathedral sits majestically at the top of Ludgate Hill (the highest point in the City of London). Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, following the catastrophic Great Fire of London in 1666, the Cathedral was officially declared complete by Parliament on the 25th December 1711.
At 111 metres (365 feet) high, the domed Cathedral dominated the London skyline for over 300 years and is the second largest church building in the UK, after Liverpool Cathedral. It’s a challenging climb, but worth it, to the Whispering Gallery, where a whisper on one side can be heard 100 feet away. Then, it’s another 271 more steps to the Golden Gallery to experience breathtaking panoramic views across the city.
The Cathedral is open daily for prayer and hourly services and for tourists, the entry price of £16.50. To check opening times and book tickets visit: St.Pauls
Originally constructed at the end of the 19th century as a power station for the Post Office, the OXO Tower calmly overlooks the bustling South Bank. The ground and first floors are used for arts and craft shops and gallery spaces, and on the eighth floor and rooftop level is the OXO Tower Restaurant (by Harvey Nichols) and Bar. The restaurant has been a major success since opening in 1996 and offers a great menu in a relaxed atmosphere overlooking the River Thames with views towards Charing Cross and the City of London.
Visit: OXO Tower
The Heron Tower stands 46 storeys high and at 230 metres (755 feet) is the tallest building in the financial district. The environmentally friendly design uses photovoltaic cells to generate renewable energy and the large glass panels throughout minimise the use of artificial lighting. The building is mainly used commercially as offices, but also includes a three-storey aquarium with 1,200 exotic fish and three restaurants with amazing views that can be reached by six high-speed scenic lifts.
Visit: Heron Tower
The latest addition to London’s skyline; The Shard at 310 metres (1,017 feet) is currently the tallest building in the European Union. The building, completed in Feburary 2013, was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano and is owned by Sellar Property and the State of Qatar. There are 72 habitable floors with 6 Restaurants and Bars located through the tower. If you have the stomach for it, ‘The View’ observation deck’ on the 72nd floor is the highest public viewing gallery in London.
Visit: The Shard
Originally the National Westminster Tower, Tower 42, is the second-tallest skyscraper in the City of London. Designed by Richard Seifert, the tower, stands 183 metres (600 feet) tall and includes two restaurants with views: one on the 24th floor, and Vertigo 42, a champagne and seafood bar on the 42nd floor.
Visit: Tower 42
Until the Shard came along, the London Eye offered the highest public viewing point in the capital. Located on the South Bank, it is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe and with over 3.5 million visitors a year is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK. The wheel rotates one revolution every 30 minutes and travels slowly enough to allow passengers to embark and disembark safely. Each capsule, or pod, can hold up to 25 people and even on a rainy day, it’s definitely the easiest way to view London from above, below and sideways.
Tickets are around £30 per person and it’s busy, year round.
Visit: London Eye
Emirates Air Line
Combining travel and tourism, the Emirates Air Line travels over the Thames from the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks. Cabins arrive every 30 seconds and the cable car journey lasts approximately 10 minutes each way. Reaching a height of 90 metres (295 feet), and holding up to eight people, it offers a breathtaking 360° view across London.
Tickets can be bought in conjunction with an Oyster Travel card.
Visit: Emirates Air Line
30 St Mary Axe, aka ‘The Gherkin’, is an elongated egg-shaped building visible as far east as Hackney Marshes, and out to the west, Richmond. Designed by Sir Norman Foster and opened in 2004, it stands at 180 metres (590 feet) tall and is one of the city’s most prestigious and iconic venues.
However, sadly, The Gherkin isn’t open to the public (although there is a ground floor Wine Bar and Café) and is fully occupied with office space, apart from the ‘nose cone’, which is used for corporate events and private functions. If you should ever receive an invitation, it provides the best 360° views over the city.
Visit: The Gherkin
If you’re staying at one of our serviced apartments in central London and have a head for heights, we’d love to see your pictures of the London skyline. Or, tell us which is the best skyscraper in London. Email us at mail:maykenbel.co.uk