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The era of observation decks began over a century ago when the architectural wonder that is the Eiffel Tower opened at the 1889 World’s Fair. Since then, observation decks have become even higher and more dramatic.

The array of skyscrapers at the city of London began in 2000s with the “Gherkin” and rose up to the “Cheesegrater” and later on to the half-transparent “Shard”. Since then high-rise developments with unrivalled panoramic views of the British capital haven’t stopped for a second and continue to spring up across town. The newest and much-talked-about is Horizon 22 on the 58th level of the 22 Bishopsgate tower – Europe’s highest free viewing platform.

Prepare to be wowed

Located at the heart of the City of London’s financial district, 22 Bishopsgate is not only the tallest building but probably the quirkiest. Art and craft have been integrated into the architectural design and state-of-the art technologies. The entrance hall is a multi-level foyer conceived as an art gallery with curated temporary art exhibits. Permanent installations adorn the building, such as Alexander Beleschenko’s glass canopies and Bill Amberg’s leather hand-crafted reception ‘library’.

But you probably won’t spend much time gazing around because waiting times at the security are super quick compared to other viewing platforms in town. This is all courtesy to opt-in facial recognition technology which removes the hassle for staff entry.

Lifts are also worth mentioning. Artist Bruce McLean provided bold and colourful art, a unique work for each passenger lift car; London’s fastest lifts and Europe’s fastest double deck lifts ferry passengers directly to Level 58 at eight metres per second, reaching the observation platform in less than 1 minute.

A completely new perspective

At 254 metres above ground, Horizon 22’s main viewing gallery has an 8.4m high ceiling to enhance the viewing experience, featuring triple glazed windows which are specially treated to maximise daylight and improve energy efficiency.

There is so much to see that you could look for hours and keep spotting new things over and over again. Landmarks like Shard, the Gherkin, St Paul’s Cathedral and Sky Garden’s Walkie Talkie stand out among scores of vast, historic buildings you have never noticed before. Tower Bridge and BT Tower look like something from a model village. On a clear day, you can see as far as the South Downs.

Phillip Shalless, Senior Asset Manager at the building’s owner AXA IM Alts said: “Whether you’re a first-time visitor to the city, a local worker wanting to do something different in your lunch hour, or someone looking for that memorable place to propose, the 3 soaring views from Horizon 22 provide the perfect backdrop.” We could not agree more. So stand amongst the clouds and get the view of a lifetime.

In the clouds

Horizon 22 will be open from September 27 (with tickets going live on September 20), seven days a week from 10am, closing at 6pm on weekdays, 5pm on Saturdays and 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. It’s completely free and tickets can be booked here.

Image credits: © 22 Bishopsgate and Brendan Bell