The Shard. Ah! I look up from the ground and marvel at the design, at the shards of glass that catch the light and splay out at the top. I had watched it slowly take over its London site, putting in the shade even the famous green glass building that the locals have named The Gherkin.
Then last week during the World Travel Market at Excel, I was privileged to be invited to take a trip to the top of The Shard to experience the incredible views over London from this spectacular building designed by Master Architect Renzo Piano. And what a vista.
With a 360 degree view over the city to a distance of 64 km (40 miles), and from 800 feet up in the sky in the tallest building in Western Europe, London had never looked better. The Shard is twice as high as any other viewing point in London and the only place in the city from which you can see all of London.
The View from the Shard
For the first time I could see how the River Thames has helped create this great city, how it snakes in and out, meandering north and south in ways I had never realized. Tiny boats sailed on its muddy waters, like toys pushed off from river banks by little boys.
From high in our eyrie on Level 69 we could see all of London’s famous landmarks – even on a grey drizzly day. Easy to pick out the Emirates Stadium (home of the Arsenal football team), Wembley Stadium, Windsor Castle, St. Paul’s etc. and by following the railways with their toy-trains for all the world like the Hornby set I played with a child I could find the railway stations and using this as a guide, find lesser known sites in the area.
Technical Help on Viewing Platform
Of course there are telescopes too. Not just telescopes, but Tell:scopes, a state of the art system that provides both day and night views of London and information in ten languages. One thousand years of history and some of the most iconic buildings in the world lie before the viewer as digital Tell:scopes help visitors explore the cityscape in every direction.
From these viewing galleries it is possible to ascend even higher to Level 72 where, at the highest accessible point of The Shard, guests can stand in the open air, surrounded by the giant shards of glass that seen ti disappear into the sky. The Shard title derives from the sculpted design which consists of glass facets that incline inwards but which do not meet at the top but instead, open to the sky to allow the building to breathe naturally.
Further Details and how to book:
The View from the Shard will offer a totally immersive experience of one of the greatest cities on earth when it opens to the public on February 1st 2012.
Restaurants, offices, executive apartments and the Shangri-La Hotel their first time in London ) occupy different floors of the building. Two lifts whisk visitors to the top in 30 seconds.
Tickets can be reserved for dates next year at www.theviewfromtheshard.com at £24. 95 for adults and £18. 95 for children or via the box office hotline +44(0)844 499 7111. Open 0900-2200 daily. Nearest tube station is London Bridge, bus routes 43, 141, 148 and 521 stop there and bus 151 goes from London Bridge. Boat from Westminster Pier leaves hourly.