The Shard

The tallest building in the European Union, slicing 310 metres into the sky.

TravelCurious Tip

Tickets for The View from the Shard must be booked in advance.

When Renzo Piano first drew up his plans for the building that would become the European Union’s tallest, he met with fierce criticism. English Heritage claimed that the structure would be "a shard of glass through the heart of historic London" and, suddenly, Piano’s new skyscraper had a name.

Pulling No Punches

When planning consent for the new building was given by then-Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott in 2003, he understandably stipulated that, if a building of this scale and conspicuousness was to be constructed in Central London, then the quality of its design needed to be exceptional. Piano used the nearby railway lines as the inspiration for his dramatic, sharp design, together with the masts of old sailing ships and the 18th century London spires depicted by the painter Canaletto. The result is a spectacular edifice that seems robust and bulky near its base and increasingly delicate as its 95 floors go up.

A Room with a View

Undoubtedly the best way to visit the Shard is to head up to floors 68-72, otherwise known as “The View from the Shard”. On a clear day, the views are unbeatable, with a 360° panorama of the entirety of London and beyond – 40 miles in perfect conditions. There are several bars and restaurants on these levels. The price tag is pretty well what you would expect, but there aren’t many better ways to enjoy a cocktail or an ice-cold beer than by sitting at a window table and admiring the city far below you.

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