Apparently, many of the world’s most famous skylines are more easily identifiable than the countries’ flags and other national symbols. The skylines form uniquely structured compositions where the height of the buildings, their density and originality as well as the surroundings play a significant role in shaping impressive and beautiful cityscapes.
Have a look at some of the most stunning skylines of the world:
Chicago. The USA.
The third largest city in the USA, Chicago is the place where the modern skyscraper architecture was born. The city’s Home Insurance Building, completed in 1885, is regarded to be the world’s first steel-framed skyscraper. In turn, Willis Tower, a 108-storey building of 442 m/ 1,451 ft was the tallest building in the world at the time of its completion in 1973. It is still the tallest skyscraper in the USA. The city’s location on the shores of Lake Michigan, one of the world’s largest freshwater bodies, adds to the beauty of Chicago’s panorama. The collection of over 1,000 skyscrapers, lined up along the beaches, appears as one of the world’s largest and most impressive skylines.
Hong Kong. China.
Be it the Emporis skyline ranking or ‘World’s Best Skylines’ list by Egbert Gramsbergen and Paul Kazmierczak, Hong Kong occupies the top positions in various rankings of the world’s best skylines. The city, a major financial center and the business hub of Asia, is home to over 7,600 enormous buildings, of which 40 are 200-plus meter skyscrapers. The lack of space and the unique geography of steep hills, mountains, 200 off shore islands and irregular coastline forced the buildings to grow high and densely. The impressive panorama of Hong Kong’s ultramodern skyscrapers with the stunning mountain backdrop and glittering night light reflections make the city a truly breathtaking sight to behold.
Rio de Janeiro. Brazil.
Although the city’s skyline is comprised of only a few skyscrapers, Rio de Janeiro’s cityscape looks absolutely wonderful thanks to the beautiful natural setting of the metropolis. Located on a strip of the Atlantic coast, surrounded by hills and rocky mountains, the city’s panorama looks great from any angle. Among the most remarkable pieces of Rio’s cityscape is Christ the Redeemer, a giant statue of Jesus Christ, as well as the Copacabana Beach, from where the entire skyline can be observed – thousands of tourists come to the city every year to admire these outstanding iconic vistas of Rio.
The skyline of Shanghai, the largest city in China (20 million citizens), is truly remarkable. From a small fishing town, Shanghai grew rapidly in the 19th century and today it is one of the major business hubs in Asia. Its importance as a financial and commerce centre of China is reflected in the grandeur of the cityscape. At the end of 2004, Shanghai boasted around 6,700 buildings of 11 or more storeys, many of them exceeding 200 meters. Among the city’s iconic skyline jewels is Shanghai World Financial Center of 101 storeys (492 m tall), which has the highest observation deck in the world, and Oriental Pearl TV Tower, whose metallic spheres can be recognized from a distance.
It might not be the tallest and most dense skyline in the world, but it goes without saying that Sydney has one of the most recognizable silhouette on the globe. The largest city in Australia, often called ‘the Harbour City’, emerged on the hills surrounding Sydney Harbour, where the iconic Opera House and Harbour Bridge are located. The hundreds of modern skyscrapers and the flower shape of the Opera decorate the shores of the bay, making Sydney’s panorama rank among the most beautiful ones on Earth.
The CN Tower defines the skyline of Toronto, one of the most diverse metropolises in the world and the largest city in Canada. Until 2007, the tower (553m/1,815 ft) was the tallest freestanding structure in the world, and it is still the highest tower in the western hemisphere, surpassing Willis Tower in Chicago. Toronto’s skyline is formed by around 2,000 buildings of more than 90 m / 300 ft that tower nobly above the city. In contrast to other metropolises, many of the city’s skyscrapers are residential rather than office space buildings.
The largest financial center in continental Europe, Frankfurt is the only German city with a significant number of tall buildings (exceeding 150 meters). Although much smaller than other prominent skylines, Frankfurt’s skyscrapers combine with the historical architecture of the city to form a uniquely beautiful panorama. Until 2003, Frankfurt was home to the tallest building in Europe, Commerzbank Tower (259 m), which was overtaken by the Triumph Palace in Moscow. Still, the city is so enthusiastic about its skyscrapers it even holds the Skyscraper Festival (Wolkenkratzer Festival) when the tallest buildings here are open to the public.
Fascinating, addictive and breathtakingly large, Tokyo is the world’s biggest metropolis, supporting around 30 million people, and boasts more skyscrapers than any other city in Asia. Despite the fact that the city is prone to earthquakes due to its location on the two tectonic plates, the skylines could grow high and densely thanks
to advanced Japanese engineering. The modern architecture that shapes the silhouette of Tokyo can be found throughout the city. Unfortunately, the old historical buildings are rare as the city was left in ruins twice in recent history: first after the earthquake in 1923 and later after the extensive firebombing in World War II.
Seattle. The USA.
Picturesque Seattle, surrounded by sea, rivers, forests and lakes, might not have an impressively big skyline but its beauty is undeniable. The superstars of the cityscape, the Space Needle and the Smith Tower, accompanied by about 200 high-rise buildings, create the characteristic hill-like effect of the skyline. A mountain backdrop adds to the beauty of the city’s panorama. At present, the tallest building in Seattle and the state of Washington is Columbia Center (285.4 m), where approximately 5,000 people work and 2,000 come to visit every business day.
New York. The USA.
Saying that New York has the most easily recognizable skyline in the world may sound like a cliché but the truth is that the postcard silhouette is New York’s flagship product. The city boasts the highest number of skyscrapers that exceed 200 m, i.e., 48 buildings in the world. The iconic 102-storey Empire State Building was the highest skyscraper on the globe for a record 42 years. In 1972 it was surpassed by One World Trade Center, but after the tragic events of 9/11, it has again become the tallest building in the city. Thanks to its outstanding collection of architectural jewels, New York exhibits a skyline that no other city in the world can boast.