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10 Incredible Skyscraper Observation Decks You Can Visit

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Whether you're a tourist in a foreign city or an adrenaline junkie, getting a bird's-eye view of a new town has never been easier. Architects have spent years reaching for the stars with their constructions, and the observation decks in these buildings provide stunningly beautiful views. Here are 10 observation decks you can visit in some of the world's most impressive buildings.

1. BURJ KHALIFA // DUBAI

THOMAS BUNTON VIA FLICKR // CC BY-NC 2.0

No trip to Dubai is complete without a visit to the Burj Khalifa. Towering over the city at 1823 feet, the Burj Khalifa’s observation deck is the world’s highest outdoor observatory. The building itself was built over six years and 22 million man-hours, and has six world records. It’s over 160 stories and not only is it the tallest building, but also the tallest free-standing structure in the world, with the tallest elevator. The building is home to the Armani Hotel Dubai, as well as corporate suites and residences.

2. CN TOWER // TORONTO

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Named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World in 1995 by the American Society of Civil Engineers, Toronto’s CN Tower is a telecommunications hub with many attractions for visitors. Its 335-foot steel broadcasting antenna makes it the tallest tower in the Western hemisphere, and it was the tallest free-standing structure for three decades after it was built in 1975. Glass elevators carry visitors to the 1136-foot observation deck in a swift 58 seconds where they can take in 100 mile views, including New York State and Niagara Falls. The CN Tower is also home to the world’s first glass floor—it's 1122 feet in the air, and became the inspiration for the Grand Canyon Skywalk and others.

3. EIFFEL TOWER // PARIS

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The Eiffel Tower, once the tallest observation deck in the world when it surpassed Washington D.C.’s Washington Monument in 1889, has seven million visitors a year. (It remains the most visited monument that you have to pay for in the world.) Built by Gustave Eiffel to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the structure features two restaurants, a champagne bar, and the famous 905-foot observation deck. And, if you are unsure if it should really be considered a skyscraper, it also houses a private apartment at the top that was used by Eiffel to entertain visitors like Thomas Edison.

4. EMPIRE STATE BUILDING // NEW YORK

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It was once the tallest building (and is now the fifth tallest in the U.S.), and the Empire State Building continues to be one of the world’s great attractions. It's considered among the most romantic sites—up there with the Eiffel Tower in Paris—thanks to decades worth of films like An Affair to Remember and Sleepless in Seattle. There are two observation decks—one on the 102nd floor and the larger, more popular one on the 86thfloor—that have attracted millions of visitors to the National Historic Landmark. In fact, the Empire State Building makes more money as an attraction than it does in renting out its office spaces.

5. EUREKA TOWER // MELBOURNE

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Australia’s tallest residential tower has 556 apartments, including an 84th floor penthouse, and Eureka Tower's Skydeck 88 is the highest vantage point in the Southern hemisphere. Built in four years, they have also added The Edge, a glass cube that hangs off the famous observation deck (at 935 feet) which looks opaque until guests walk out onto the floor and it becomes clear. You can also dine at Eureka 89—found on the building’s final story—while enjoying the 360-degree views.

6. INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE CENTER // HONG KONG

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Hong Kong’s International Commerce Center is a hotel and office building with 108 stories. It is the tallest building in Hong Kong, and the seventh tallest in the world. Two floors beneath the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is Sky100, a 360-degree indoor observation deck that sits 1272 feet high on the 100th floor, offering stunning views of Victoria Harbour.

7. SHANGHAI TOWER // SHANGHAI

LAWRENCE WANG VIA FLICKR // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The Shanghai Tower spirals over 2000 feet into the sky, making it the tallest building in Asia. And though the tower itself is the second tallest in the world only to the Burj Khalifa, its observation deck (which opened in July) is now the world’s tallest observation deck, clocking in at 6 meters higher than Dubai's masterpiece. Filled with restaurants, shops, offices, and hotels, the tower is 120 stories and features the world’s fastest elevators, which can zip tourists to the top at 40 miles per hour. And, as more construction is completed on it, the tower is certain to break more records, such as highest pool with a view, highest hotel lobby, and highest restaurant.

8. SKY TOWER // AUCKLAND

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Auckland, New Zealand’s Sky Tower is a telecommunications and observation tower that provides FM radio and six television stations, and is a standout in the Auckland skyline. The building is part of the larger Skycity Auckland casino, is the tallest man-made structure in the Southern hemisphere, and is home to a 700-seat theater, revolving restaurant, two hotels, and over 20 bars and restaurants. Much like the Empire State Building, its LED lighting is changed in observance of holidays and it features two observation decks. The main observatory is 610 feet high and has a glass floor, and the SkyDeck sits just below the main antenna at 720 feet. From there you can take in the panoramic views up to 50 miles out, or watch daredevils base jump from SkyJump, a 630-foot drop!

9. SPACE NEEDLE // SEATTLE

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In 1959, inspired by the Stuttgart Tower, Edward E. Carlson sketched out an image on a napkin of what would eventually become the Space Needle. Architect John Graham would later join the project, and the structure eventually resembled his idea of a flying saucer to fit with the 21st century theme for 1962’s World’s Fair. The tower, surprisingly, is not used for broadcasting purposes, but it has become an iconic piece of Seattle’s skyline, and its observation deck has views of Washington’s lush greenery, Mt. Rainier, and Elliott Bay, to name a few.

10. TOKYO SKYTREE // TOKYO

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Tokyo Skytree is the tallest communications tower in the world, reaching 2080 feet. Its height—634 meters—was specifically chosen because when the numbers are read in Japanese, it’s pronounced mu (6) sa (3) shi (4); from the observation decks, the old Musashi Province is visible, to remind visitors of the area’s history. There are two observatories: the Tembo Deck (1148 feet above the city) and Tembo Gallery, which has a glass Skywalk and sits 1476 feet high.

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Design
China's New Tianjin Binhai Library is Breathtaking—and Full of Fake Books
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A massive new library in Tianjin, China, is gaining international fame among bibliophiles and design buffs alike. As Arch Daily reports, the five-story Tianjin Binhai Library has capacity for more than 1 million books, which visitors can read in a spiraling, modernist auditorium with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves.

Several years ago, municipal officials in Tianjin commissioned a team of Dutch and Japanese architects to design five new buildings, including the library, for a cultural center in the city’s Binhai district. A glass-covered public corridor connects these structures, but the Tianjin Binhai Library is still striking enough to stand out on its own.

The library’s main atrium could be compared to that of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum in New York City. But there's a catch: Its swirling bookshelves don’t actually hold thousands of books. Look closer, and you’ll notice that the shelves are printed with digital book images. About 200,000 real books are available in other rooms of the library, but the jaw-dropping main room is primarily intended for socialization and reading, according to Mashable.

The “shelves”—some of which can also serve as steps or seating—ascend upward, curving around a giant mirrored sphere. Together, these elements resemble a giant eye, prompting visitors to nickname the attraction “The Eye of Binhai,” reports Newsweek. In addition to its dramatic main auditorium, the 36,000-square-foot library also contains reading rooms, lounge areas, offices, and meeting spaces, and has two rooftop patios.

Following a three-year construction period, the Tianjin Binhai Library opened on October 1, 2017. Want to visit, but can’t afford a trip to China? Take a virtual tour by checking out the photos below.

A general view of the Tianjin Binhai Library
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People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
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A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
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A woman taking pictures at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A man visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A woman looking at books at China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

A general view of China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

People visiting China's Tianjin Binhai Library.
FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

[h/t Newsweek]

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Pol Viladoms
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architecture
One of Gaudí's Most Famous Homes Opens to the Public for the First Time
Pol Viladoms
Pol Viladoms

Visiting buildings designed by iconic Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí is on the to-do list of nearly every tourist passing through Barcelona, Spain, but there's always been one important design that visitors could only view from the outside. Constructed between 1883 and 1885, Casa Vicens was the first major work in Gaudí's influential career, but it has been under private ownership for its entire existence. Now, for the first time, visitors have the chance to see inside the colorful building. The house opened as a museum on November 16, as The Art Newspaper reports.

Gaudí helped spark the Catalan modernism movement with his opulent spaces and structures like Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia. You can see plenty of his architecture around Barcelona, but the eccentric Casa Vicens is regarded as his first masterpiece, famous for its white-and-green tiles and cast-iron gate. Deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005, Casa Vicens is a treasured part of the city's landscape, yet it has never been open to the public.

Then, in 2014 the private Spanish bank MoraBanc bought the property with the intention of opening it up to visitors. The public is finally welcome to take a look inside following a $5.3 million renovation. To restore the 15 rooms to their 19th-century glory, designers referred to historical archives and testimonies from the descendants of former residents, making sure the house looked as much like Gaudí's original work as possible. As you can see in the photos below, the restored interiors are just as vibrant as the walls outside, with geometric designs and nature motifs incorporated throughout.

In addition to the stunning architecture, museum guests will find furniture designed by Gaudí, audio-visual materials tracing the history of the house and its architect, oil paintings by the 19th-century Catalan artist Francesc Torrescassana i Sallarés, and a rotating exhibition. Casa Vicens is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. General admission costs about $19 (€16).

An empty room in the interior of Casa Vicens

Interior of house with a fountain and arched ceilings

One of the house's blue-and-white tiled bathrooms

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

All images courtesy of Pol Viladoms.

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