Until last month I was one of the few London bloggers left that had never been inside The Shard. Finally, after two and a half years of admiring the London’s landmark from afar and below, I had the chance to visit The View last month.
For those of you who don’t live in London or have never heard about The Shard, it is 95-storey skyscraper located by London Bridge, on the south side of the river Thames. It is 309.6 metres (1,016 ft) high, and currently the tallest building in Western Europe. It was designed by a famous Italian architect, Renzo Piano, and the construction took three years. The Shard was inaugurated on 6th July 2012.
The View From The Shard was opened in February 2013 with two public platforms: a triple level indoor gallery (Levels 69-71) and a Skydeck on Level 72.
The View from The Shard offers a 360-degree view of London (up to 40 miles on a clear day).
To the west you can see the London Eye, St Paul’s, the Millennium Bridge; to the north the Sky Garden and the Gherkin; to the east Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf.
Look all the way down and you will see the railway lines and trains going through London Bridge station.
I started my visit one hour before sunset so that I could stay inside long enough to see the view by day and by night.
I also chose the day carefully after consulting the weather forecast. It was meant to be sunny with a clear sky, but alas this is London and the weather can change quickly. That afternoon the sky was covered in grey clouds, without sun rays coming through and just a little bit of the sunset colours to be seen far away.
The 72nd floor observation deck is in open-air, something you can definitely notice and feel on a cold and windy December day.
Obviously I knew that the top of the Shard was made of four planes of glass rising towards the top, never touching. I thought the viewing platform would still have a roof, but instead it is partially open.
I was slightly intimidated to be standing at 244 metres above the ground, feeling the wind blowing through the metal and glass structure of the Shard. Looking up, I could see the pinnacle of the building.
My cold feeling was heightened by an art installation which has been at The View since November. The Height of Winter was designed by London studio Bompas & Parr to create a truly romantic winter experience, complete with super-scaled crystals, glowing crystal benches and a touch-responsive iridescent grotto.
The play of lights, colours and sounds combined with the winter installations conveyed a winter feel to the Shard’s observation deck.
I spent one and a half hours at the top of The Shard, most of the time on Level 72, just gazing out to London as night moved in and the city lights appeared.
It was incredible to see so much of London, an experience I can only compare to seeing the city from a plane.
I would definitely recommend a visit to The View from The Shard (if you are not afraid of heights, of course)! ;) The Height of Winter installation will be running until 31st January 2016.
Disclaimer: I received a press pass to visit the Shard. All opinions are my own.