The London skyline is one of the most recognisable cityscapes in the world, thanks to its perfect combination of historic architecture and modern builds. Many people leave London after their trip with at least one or two snaps from London’s vantage points with great views - such as the London Eye - but not everyone knows one distinctive London building from another. Brush up on your name dropping skills with our guide to the most distinctive, commanding and unusual buildings to grace the skyline, along with a little bit of history on each.
As one of the tallest buildings in Europe, The Shard is hard to miss. When it was first completed in 2012 after three years of construction it was the tallest building in Europe, but after a number of taller skyscrapers were built in Moscow it became the tallest building in Western Europe specifically; it does still remain as the tallest building in the UK. It stands well above anything else in the London skyline and is easy to spot among the other much smaller buildings.
The London Eye
The London Eye is arguably the most recognisable, and most contemporary of shapes to contribute to the London skyline as its ferris wheel design stands out against the rest. The London Eye first opened on 31st December 1999 and was created to welcome the new millennium in the city. In fact, for many years it was referred to as the Millennium Wheel. It was, at one point, the tallest ferris wheel in the world, but it has since been overtaken by a number of similar structures elsewhere. It is a visitor attraction in its own right and its pods offer the perfect vantage point to take cityscapes like no other. Visit at sunrise or sunset to capture London at its prettiest.
As one of the main tourist attraction in London, Big Ben is recognisable worldwide as an iconic part of London history. The clock tower punctures the London skyline with its traditional architecture standing in stark contrast to the more modern buildings surrounding it. Although it has become common to refer to the clock tower as Big Ben, it’s actually the bell inside that’s named Big Ben and not the entire structure. Since 2012, the clock tower has officially been known as Elizabeth Tower. Before that, it was named the Clock Tower. Whether you refer to the building as Big Ben or not, it is a beautiful legacy of London’s rich architectural past.
Not all of London’s vantage points with great views will show off Tower Bridge as it is often hidden by the surrounding buildings. It is a structure that features heavily in the iconic London skyline image many of us are used to seeing and it is a key part of London’s architectural lineage. Tower Bridge was first opened in 1894 and is often wrongly referred to as London Bridge. In fact, London Bridge is another bridge entirely.
Whichever of these buildings you capture from your vantage point, you’re sure to find London’s signature blend of old and new a beautiful memento of your trip.