The Shard is London‘s most eagerly anticipated new building since the Olympic stadium rose up in the East End. This towering shard of glass feels like it has already dominated the skyline for years, shouldering its way into eyeshot as you turn a corner, casting a shadow over London Bridge, catching your attention as you walk along the street.
Finally — finally — on February 1st it opened its doors and let the public in. For the first time visitors can now see all of London spread out beneath their feet, from Wembley Stadium and Windsor Castle in the west, to Canary Wharf and the Thames Barrier in the east, and to the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament directly below.
The Shard is Western Europe’s tallest building, and visitors couldn’t wait to get up there. One thousand feet above the city, gawkers pressed their noses against the glass and looked down. London Bridge station looked like a little boy’s train set, taxis like ants and the London Eye like a toy you could pick up and spin along the ground. As the sky darkened, the streetlamps flicked on, making the city appear as if strung with tiny fairy lights. This is London from a different angle — so much better than when seen from a plane. Truly jaw dropping. Of course, it took just minutes for the first wedding proposal to occur, and there are sure to be many more. But this is not just a place for grand romantic gestures — this is a view that will delight all age groups.
Tickets to see that vista costs £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children, and although there’s no enforced time limit, you’ll likely be back downstairs and out into the street within an hour. But you certainly won’t forget the view in a hurry; it’ll leave you with a brand new perspective on the city.
Photos Courtesy of Jason Hawks and The View from the Shard