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Viewing the cityscape – vantage points in big cities

Cities, fantastic and adored by tourists, are usually discovered in two ways. One is to flow with the city’s “bloodstream” of streets, savour the local dishes, visit museums and restaurants. The other way is to forget the details and focus on the big picture. This is about looking at the city from above, from different vantage points, towers, observation decks or hills. Each big city has such spots, which attract throngs of cityscape lovers.

One of the most adored cities in the world is Paris, invariably associated with love and art. Probably everyone who has ever visited the city stood at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, and most of the visitors probably took a lift or stairs to go up. However, not everyone knows that the tower was specifically constructed for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and was supposed to last only 20 years. But to save the tower from being demolished, its designer Gustave Eiffel decided to set up laboratories there. Over time, the “Grand Lady of Iron” as it was originally known, became one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world. The tower is built of wrought iron, which means it expands or contracts depending on how hot or cold it is. During hot weather, it can expand by as many as 18 centimetres. Another, perhaps even more romantic point from where to see Paris, are the stairs to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which often feature in movies and are frequently chosen by newly-weds as a background for their photos.

To enjoy a sky-high view of London, it is worth visiting the London Eye. It is a giant observation wheel that affords a spectacular view over the capital city of Great Britain. This is the world’s second tallest structure of such type – the Ferris wheel goes up staggering 135 meters. A travel by a sealed passenger capsule, with a capacity of 20 people, takes exactly 30 minutes and provides a through view of the London’s topography.

One of the tallest attractions offering a view over the city from an unusual perspective is the CN Tower in Toronto. This reinforced concrete structure opened in 1976 is 553 metres tall and until 2007 was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. It takes less than a minute for the fast and big lifts to take passengers to the special observation deck at the level of 346 meters. This means that in merely a second it travels unbelievable 6 meters! In addition to unparalleled views (when the weather is perfectly clear, you can even see the Niagara Falls!), the place offers an unusual rotating restaurant that completes a full rotation once every 72 minutes, so that guests sitting at any table can see the full panorama of Toronto.

Cities located in the mountains or amid hills are visited in a completely different way. In their case, the ideal observation spots are selected somewhat intuitively. The examples include Budapest with its Fisherman’s Bastion and the Gellért Hill or Barcelona, which makes a stunning view when looked at from the Montjuïc hill. As the hill stands between the city and the harbour, it offers views of a diversified, picturesque landscape. You can climb the hill on foot or use the cable car or rack railway. It is worth spending some time on the Montjuïc hill not only to marvel at the magnificent panorama, but also to visit the museum and the castle located near the top.

One of the most known and frequently visited viewpoints in Warsaw is the four-side terrace located on the thirtieth floor of the Palace of Culture and Science with a fantastic view of the whole Warsaw. It is situated at an altitude of 114 meters, and one of the buildings that that is photographed most often from there is ZŁOTA 44, whose characteristic structure seems to be peering into the palace’s windows. ZŁOTA 44 affords a perfect view of the Palace of Culture and Science with its clock and terrace below. It is not hard to guess that the future residents of the Libeskind’s residential tower will have a compelling view of Warsaw, particularly after dark, when darkness is dotted with a myriad of lights, revealing a glowing mosaic of streets.

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