View of the Shard (before it was finished) by night standing 310m tall
The beauty of living in Zurich is that it is so easy to hop on a plane and visit another European country in under two hours. A week or so ago I did just that and headed for London. As I flew across I was struck by the difference in the city skylines between Zurich and London and especially the city landmarks and skyscrapers. Here in Zurich we have Prime Tower, which at 126m over 36 floors is the tallest building not only in Zurich, but in the whole of Switzerland. It will be overtaken in 2015 by the Roche Tower that is currently being built in Basel and which will stand 178m tall and consist of 41 floors.
Prime Tower stands at 126m and is on 36 floors
Over in London though, the Shard, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano who also created Paris’s Pompidou Centre along with Britain’s Richard Rogers, stands proud at 310m. It opened to the public on 1st February this year and offers panoramic views over the city of London from the “View from the Shard” at 244m high on the 69th floor and from the “semi outdoor” viewing platform on the 72nd, where you are exposed to both the sights AND the sounds of London. It offers the highest vantage point of any building in Western Europe and is conveniently situated right next to London Bridge train and tube station in the heart of the city and the new development known as London bridge Quarter.
To get to the View from the Shard you access via the visitor centre and a security check and arrive at the viewing deck via two lifts each transporting you skywards in short 30 second trips, travelling so smoothly and quickly, at 6m per second, that you could be inside an ordinary office lift. The first lift takes you to the 33rd floor and the second to the 68th. It’s then up a short flight of stairs and immediately the whole of London is set before you.
The corners of the building are “open” allowing the Shard to “breathe” and interestingly 95% of all construction materials were recycled. There is so much glass (apparently 11,000 panes went into the building of the Shard), that you get fabulous views from wherever you stand and there are 12 (free) digital telescopes to zoom in powerfully over the whole of London. Looking more like expensive pieces of gym equipment, their powerful lenses enable you to see right down to street level and their screens helpfully point out all the important landmarks in 10 languages.
It was typical “end of February cloudy, grey weather” the day I visited, however, despite that the view was clear to see. Pictured above St Paul’s Cathedral and below Tower Bridge.
You get a great view over the Tower of London too.
You can see for a radius of 40 miles from the View from the Shard and people say that on a clear day you can even France. The “smallest room” is named the “loo with a view” for the vantage point if offers too!
The view from below the Shard is quite stunning too.
So when you are next in London why not visit the Shard and take in the whole of London in one go? Tickets can be purchased on the day but it is cheaper if they are booked in advance. See ticket prices here. There is free wifi available throughout the building. Here is a video to see a little more:
For more information visit the website.
All photos ©NewInZurich