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London's newest visitor attraction has finally opened to the public today, 1st February 2013. The View from The Shard - the tallest building in the EU - is the only place where it's possible to see London in its entirety, with a 40-mile, 360-degree view of the city from 800ft (244m) above ground - nearly twice as high as any other viewpoint in the capital.
From the entrance in Joiner Street, guests will pass through London-themed galleries to the 'kaleidoscopic' lifts, which use video screens and mirrors to create the impression of soaring through famous London ceilings like the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral and the British Museum's Great Court glass roof - though it doesn't last long. With a transfer zone at Level 33, the total lift journey time from ground-level to Level 68 is just 60 seconds.
The two-level viewing deck comprises the triple-height main viewing gallery at Level 69 - where free-to-use interactive 'Tell:scopes' identify over 200 famous landmarks - and the highest public gallery at Level 72; a partially open-air space surrounded by the gigantic shards of glass that form the top of The Shard.
According to the architect Renzo Piano, The Shard was designed to be a 'vertical city', with office space, the highest residences in Europe, international restaurants, and the 5-star Shangri-La hotel occupying most of the 31.4 acre floor space. And did we mention the swimming pool on Level 52?
Tickets and gift certificates cost £24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children and are booked in advance, with guests choosing the time and date of their visit. Recipients of a gift certificate can choose when they want to visit. A limited number of 'walk-up' tickets are also available each day.
The View from The Shard is open daily from 9am-10pm, except Christmas Day. For tickets visit www.theviewfromtheshard.com or call +44 (0)844 499 7111.
Visiting the UK? To book your flight to London with Virgin Atlantic visit www.virginatlantic.com
Header photo © 2013 The View from The Shard
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.