There are some historic and iconic structures around the world which offer great views and have become symbols for their cities. How many of the towers on our list have you seen?
1. The Eiffel Tower, Paris
How could we collate a list of great towers and leave it out? The Eiffel Tower is so loved by Parisians that they’ve not really felt the need to add to their skyline much since it was opened in 1889.
And because it doesn’t have to compete for attention, you can spot the Eiffel Tower from almost anywhere in Paris.
In fact, most Parisians admit that they very rarely actually go up the Eiffel Tower but instead drink it in from Trocadero, along the Seine or from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
2. The Tower of London
Steeped in history (it was first built in 1066), the Tower of London has held multiple roles over the years: it’s been a fortress, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint and the safekeeper of the Crown Jewels. And the castle’s main white tower was commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1078 and was used as a prison until 1952. Some say the ghosts of James I’s cousin and Dame Sybil Penn (The Grey lady) still roam the corridors.
And like Paris’ Eiffel Tower, the Tower of London is really best enjoyed from a distance (although we do recommend taking the tour as well). The Tower Hotel’s Brasserie restaurant opposite Tower Bridge is the a perfect vantage point.
3. The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy
It took 177 years to build and is over 800 years old , but the leaning Tower of Pisa is most famous for its tilt. Considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World (and for good reason), lots of work has gone into stabilising the structure. It seems to have worked: the tower stands at the same angle as it did in 1838 and is expected to remain stable for about 300 years.
4. St Mark’s Camanile (bell tower), Venice
Found in the heart of St Mark’s Square, the tower’s tip is adorned with a statue of the Archangel Gabriel whose wings make him rotate when there’s a slight wind. Venetians still look to the direction of the angel to tell them what weather to expect: when he’s facing the Basilica, they know to expect high water.
There have been copycats all over the world, but nothing beats the original. Grab a gelato, people-watch in St Mark’s Square and wait for the bell to sound.
5. The Stratosphere, Las Vegas
Only in Vegas would you find a hotel, a casino, a theme park and a tower all rolled into one.
Enjoy the views from the revolving restaurant or, if you dare, hop on one of the thrill rides at the top. The Big Shot is particularly stomach-churning: it lurches over the edge, dangling you for a few cruel moments before you spin round at about 40 miles per hour.
6. The Empire State Building, New York
Even hardened New Yorkers get a bit teary-eyed when they think about the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is New York.
First opened in 1930 (just as the Great depression hit — not the best timing), it was the first building to have 100 floors and was designed in the art deco style of the day.
Directors love it: it played a starring role in An Affair to Remember when Deborah Kerr asked love interest Cary Grant to meet her on top in six months if he was ready to be with her. Do they reunite? You’ll have to watch the film to find out.
It was also the building which King Kong climbed and fell off in the climax of King Kong and Andy Warhol shot an arthouse movie called Empire which featured eight hours and five minutes of slow motion footage of the building.
7. Burj Khalifa, Dubai
The Burj Khalifa, is famous for one thing: its sheer height. Standing tall at 828 metres above the ground, it’s the tallest structure in the world.
When it was unveiled in 2009, it dwarfed every other building in the world. It encapsulated Dubai’s bold ambition and the vast amount of wealth in the country. Whizz up in the high-speed lift (unless you feel like taking all 2,909 stairs) and enjoy the views from the 124th floor’s observation deck. We don’t envy the window cleaner.
8. The Three Pagodas, China
From a symbol of modern aspiration to one of the oldest standing structures in China. These three pagodas were originally erected in the 9th century and form a perfectly symmetrical triangle.
What makes them even more special is what they’ve gone through to stay with us: they’ve survived three earthquakes, a fire in the Qing Dynasty and, as ancient legend would have it, fended off dragons (they were built to scare them off).
Top tip: beat the heat (and the crowds) and visit them at night when they’re illuminated – a stunning sight.
9. Big Ben, London
It plays a starring role in London’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, reliably chimes on the hour and has been a prominent feature in London ’s skyline since it was built in 1859: Big Ben is one of the finest clock towers in the world.
Hike up the 334 stone steps to get behind the clock’s facade and be rewarded one of the best views of London.
What’s your favourite tower? Do you agree with our selection?