One of the central attractions for tourists who want to experience the marvel of human engineering and ingenuity are skyscrapers. Towering thousands of feet into the air, they dominate the skyline of the city, their peaks often hidden in clouds. The heights of these superstructures will often leave you feeling more dizzy than amazed, and with designers and engineers looking to outdo each other every year, it seems that even the sky is not the limit! Check out the list of the top 10 mega-structures that pierce through the European skies.
Mercury City Tower, Moscow
The Mercury City Tower is a multipurpose, bronze tinted, mirrored edifice that is comprised of residential and commercial zones. It took almost 4 years (2009-2013) to develop this building, and it is now located on plot 14 of the MIBC (Moscow International Business Centre). An estimated $1 billion was used to fund this 338.8 meter tall tower which has 80 floors, with a total provision of 31 elevators. The high-rise was designed by Frank William and Partners and structurally engineered by MOsproject 2.
The amazingly distinct shape and colored tower exhibits a constant glow that makes it stand out amongst the busy Moscow skyline and consistently fascinates the public. Every year a huge number of tourists visit this incredible structure.
Eiffel Tower, Paris
Named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is a globally recognized symbol of France and one of the most visited monuments around the world. It is 324 meters tall and was the tallest man-made structure in the world for over four decades until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built. Later in 1957, the tower beat the Chrysler Building’s height with the addition of a 5.2 meter aerial. Altogether, there are 300 steps to reach the top floor, but mainly nine elevators are employed.
The triple floor tower was built within two years (1887-1889) in Paris’ seventh arrondissement. The first two floors mainly house restaurants for the visitors. Almost 25,000 tickets are sold every day for visitors to climb to the top; although the original plan was to dismantle it after 20 years, the tower proved incredibly beneficial for France’s tourism industry.
The Shard, London
This 309.6 meter-high, 95 storied skyscraper in Southwark is referred to as the Shard or Shard of Glass, and was built in 2012. However, its deck, known as The View from the Shard, was publicly opened on 1 February 2013. The pyramidal tower, designed by Italian Renzo Piano and owned by the state of Qatar, mainly consists of 72 residential floors, a viewing balcony and, last but not least, an open air platform for sightseeing.
The highest viewpoints are at the top floors (68, 69 and 72), where tourists can enjoy the astonishing 360 degree vista for up to 40 miles. These can be accessed by the 44 elevators in the high rise. The total contracted cost of just the construction project was £435 million. This iconic London structure is the tallest building in London and one of the tallest in Europe.
Commerzbank Tower, Frankfurt
The Commerzbank is the tallest building in Germany. It is a 259 meter-high skyscraper which, when you add on the antenna and light, extends to 300.1 meters. The construction of the tower commenced in the year 1994 and was finished in 1997. Commerzbank Tower was designed by Foster & Partners and is located in Kaiserplatz, Frankfurt. It consists of 56 floors. Thomas Ende, who won the contest for lighting this incredible monument, lit it with a golden scheme that can be viewed at night.
This glowing effect, coupled with the conspicuous architecture and conception, enchants many art professionals and tourists. This landmark of the Frankfurt skyline is a unique example of contexture-friendly and energy-saving infrastructure, for which it was also awarded the ‘Green Building Frankfurt’ award in 2009.
Istanbul Sapphire, Istanbul
Consisting of 54 levels, the Istanbul Sapphire rises to 238 meters, which, with the spire, adds up to 261 meters. The project was developed by Biskon Yapi. It is a commercial and luxurious residential building that was inaugurated in 2011 at Buyukdere Avenue Levent, Istanbul. This high tech structure has 10 basement floors and provides a natural ambiance for its inhabitants, thus protecting them from drastic weather conditions and external noise pollution.
A computerized system is installed in the building that controls the amount of UV rays and sunlight entering and absorbed inside the premises, depending on weather conditions of the day or season. The power-saving building also makes it highly suitable for golfing in Istanbul. Istanbul Sapphire is ranked locally as the second tallest building after the Diamond of Istanbul in the Maslak Business district. Many people travel to Istanbul Sapphire for its extensive mall, that is located right in the central business area.
Torre Cepsa, Madrid
Previously known as the Torre Bankia, the Torre Cepsa is the tallest building in Spain, at a height of 250 meters. Located in Cuatro Torres Business Area, the building has 45 floors and is the largest in length of the four buildings located in the area. It was designed by Norman Foster and was opened in 2009. The iconic building envisages the financial might of the country and serves as an international business center.
Cespa was previously supposed to be the headquarters for Repsol YPF Oil and Gas Company, but was later purchased by financial institution Caja Madrid. The skyscraper is built on the former training grounds for the Real Madrid football. The building also boasts five underground levels of parking.
Unicredit Tower, Milan
This elegantly designed building is the tallest skyscraper in all of Italy. Towering at 231 meters or 758 feet, the high rise was designed with true Italian finesse by architect Cesar Pelli and is an attraction for many. Located in Milan’s Porta Nuova district, it serves as the headquarters for Italy’s largest bank UniCredit, and also serves as a residential zone and office for businesses.
The building’s sleek, stylish construction was awarded for its aesthetically appealing and practical design. The skyscraper can be viewed from as far as six miles. A fascinating spire on top of the building contains an LED light sequence that can change colors especially on important national days.
DC Tower, Vienna
The DC or Donau City Towers are a set of high rise buildings known as DC Tower 1 and DC Tower 2. DC Tower 1 is 220 meters or 722 feet in length, making it the tallest tower in Austria. The skyscraper mainly houses offices but also includes a four-star hotel, residential apartments, restaurants and a fitness center.
DC Tower was built in 2013 and was designed by French architect Dominique Perralt. The building is a perfect blend of aesthetic appeal with a practicality that can easily cater to the business requirements of the city.
South Tower, Brussels
The South Tower, Tour du Midi in French, or Zuidertoren in Dutch, is the largest high rise in Belgium. Standing at 148 meters or 486 feet high, the skyscraper consists of 38 floors. Constructed in 1967, the South Tower was the tallest building in the European Union from 1967-1972 until it was surpassed by the Tour Montparnasse in Paris. The building was renovated by Michel Jaspers and Partners where it was equipped with unitized glass panels.
The building can house 2200-2500 workers and has been used by the Belgian Pension Administrations since its construction back in the day. In fact, the skyscraper is such an important landmark of the city that the exact address of the area is the building’s name itself.
Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw
Originally known as Joseph Stalin Palace of Culture and Science, the Palace of Culture and Science is the most eminent landmark of Poland, and was gifted to the country from the Soviet Union. As the tallest building in Poland, the architectural masterpiece stands at 231 meters or 758 feet.
The building is home to a number of institutions such as cinemas, theaters, libraries, sports clubs and the Polish Academy of Science. Constructed in 1955, the building, with its diverse establishments, was the brainchild of Soviet architect Lev Rudnev. His vision, encompassing Polish history and a love for American high rise buildings, culminated in the formation of this Palace.
By Ahmad Raza