The ultra-modern London landmark The Shard officially opens its public viewing platforms ‘The View’ on 1 February 2013. This is a great opportunity to finally get a fantastic panoramic view over London.
Londoners have been watching with interest as the piercing arrowhead climbed higher and higher into the skyline over the last few years. And whether you love it or hate it (just don’t ask the local cabbies for their opinion!) you can now make your own mind up.
Tickets go on sale for viewings from 1 February and the Shard is open from 9am to 10pm. All tickets are timed so pre-booking is highly recommended. Adult tickets cost from 25 GBP (nearly 40 USD) from the official site and gift certificates can be bought as a unique gift for that hard to please person. Access to the public viewing platforms on floors 68, 69 and 72 is via high speed lifts. There are 72 storeys in total and the level 72 viewing platform is open to the elements whilst the other two are glass fronted. Level 69 includes interactive Tell:scopes to help visitors identify the landmarks, give information and provide alternative views such as at sunset.
These viewing platforms are nearly twice as high as any other in London. And the views are absolutely breathtaking and offer a 360 degree view spanning 40 miles (64km) out over London. All the big tourist spots can be seen from The London Eye, Tower Bridge, House of Parliament, Big Ben, River Thames and the Tower of London.
The Shard was, until very recently, the highest building in Europe, but since the Mercury City Tower opened in Moscow it has to settle for the title of the highest building in Western Europe. The Shard weighs in at a mighty 310 meters tall (1,016ft) and is a hefty 66 meters taller than the previous tallest London structure.
Located in the London borough of Southwark at the entrance to the London Bridge tube station, the Shard was designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano. The lower levels house a Shangri-La luxury hotel and residential accommodation.
Try to time your visit for a clear dry day as the glass can become obscured by raindrops. And rest assured that if there is zero visibility on your trip (this is the UK weather after all), you’ll get the option of a free trip on another day.
By Julie Bowman