Londoners have been watching the rise of their towering new landmark for months, but from Friday they were able to see the view from the inside for the first time as The Shard opened to the public.
London Mayor Boris Johnson was his usual ebullient self as he cut the ribbon to mark the opening and told euronews: “This is a unique building, it’s the only building I can think of that looks like the tip of an intergalactic spear! It’s something that I think is going to capture people’s imaginations, and loads of people are going to want to come up this thing!”
The observation deck is indeed expected to attract thousands of visitors a year; 130,000 tickets were sold ahead of the opening of the viewing galleries, which are 244 metres (800ft) above the British capital.
You have to pay 25 pounds (29 euros) to visit the top of western Europe’s tallest building, but a lot more to live in the clouds. The 10 penthouse apartments – believed to have price tags of up to 50 million pounds (57 million euros) each – remain unoccupied.
Below the viewing platform are 30 floors of office space, all still empty. So far the Shard’s biggest tenant is the five star Shangri-La hotel.
However, Irvine Sellar, the Shard’s developer said 30 percent of the tower had already been leased and he remained confident and optimistic. “It’s a vertical town and it takes time to rent. It may take 18 months to let,” he said.
Euronews correspondent Ali May, one of the first to get a peak from Level 72, which is partially open to the elements, said: “It’s impossible to come up here, see all these breathtaking views of the city, and not absolutely fall in love with it. This is London as you’ve never seen it before.”