From the pyramids of ancient Egypt, soaring cathedrals of medieval Europe, to the revolution in building of the late 19th Century with the construction of the first skyscrapers in New York and Chicago; history has seen us build ever upwards. This process continues today with more skyscrapers and mega-towers rising every year. With the radical transformation of city skylines around the world, this list might not be current for very long. But as it stands, here are the tallest freestanding structures in the world!
Completed in 1976 at 553.3m, Toronto’s CN Tower was the tallest freestanding structure in the world when it was completed as a communications and observations tower. It held the title up until 2007 when it was overtaken by the Burj Khalifa. With a run of 32 years, it’s no wonder some Canadians, when asked, still believe their tower the tallest.
Currently, the tallest building in South Korea and the fifth tallest building in the world, Seoul’s Lotte World Tower opened its doors to the public in April 2017. At 555m, with 123 floors, it also beats out the CN tower for eighth tallest freestanding structure in the world.
Upon completion in 2017 the second tallest building in China and the fourth tallest in the world, Shenzhen’s Ping An Finance Centre is one of a number of supertall buildings popping up in China’s cities. Standing 562m-high, the Ping An Finance Centre can also claim the number seven spot for the world’s tallest freestanding structures.
Soaring up over the rest of the Tianjin skyline, Goldin Finance 117 has not even yet been completed (2020 is the new estimated completion date). Still, its current standing of 596m sets it a fair ways above the lower competitors on this list. When the building is finished, it is expected to gain another metre; placing it at 597m-high.
5. Abraj al-Bait
Completed in 2011, the Abraj al-Bait is a government-owned complex of seven skyscraper hotels located in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca. The most expensive building ever constructed (US$15 billion); it is also not without controversy, built as it was on the foundations of a historically-significant Ottoman fortress that was demolished in 2002 to make way for the new complex. It is not the Abraj al-Bait itself that holds the title of fifth-tallest freestanding structure in the world, however, but the central Makkah Royal Clock Tower (standing at 601m-high).
Rising 604m-high over the banks of the Pearl River in Guangzhou, China, the Canton Tower is an impressive sight. Its timing was perhaps unlucky, as it held the titles for tallest tower in the world and the tallest structure in China, for only two and four years (respectively), before being surpassed by the Tokyo Skytree and the Shanghai Tower. Still, as the second tallest tower and fourth tallest structure on the planet, the Canton Tower is not to be laughed at.
Sharing the record with the Ping An Finance Centre of the highest observation deck in a building or structure, the Shanghai Tower is a monster. At 632m-high, it dominates the Shanghai skyline as China’s tallest building and structure. With the world’s second fastest elevators (20.5m/s) to boot, a visit to the Shanghai Tower is an experience not for the faint of heart (or acrophobics).
As the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure, the Tokyo Skytree became an instant landmark after it was completed in 2012. With a restaurant and observation tower, the 634m-high broadcasting tower is certainly worth the visit, offering unparalleled views over the world’s largest city!
Since its completion in 2009, the Burj Khalifa has become synonymous with towering height. Indeed, at 829.8m the building far surpasses the next tallest structures (this point is reinforced by the fact that the Burj took the titles of world’s tallest building and structure in 2008 before it was even completed). Despite some controversy over immoral labour practices, the actual building has received largely positive critical reviews.
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