These Are the 25 Tallest Skyscrapers in the World
Why make tall buildings? Because we can! From all around the globe, these structures are feats of engineering marvel.
How to measure buildings
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To determine the height of buildings, which are defined on this list as structures where people live or work, first, we have to come up with the criteria. Most official measurements, such as those by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), use architectural height, from the sidewalk entrance to the top, including spires but not including antennae or flagpoles. Also, the number of floors may be different than the floors’ actual numbers—some buildings skip unlucky numbers, or use letters, such as floor 42A in addition to floor 42. In addition, our list only includes buildings that were completed and opened by the time of publication—several new buildings are set to take their place when they open their doors in the near future. As you read on, see if you can guess where these skyscrapers are located: Asia and the Middle East now have most of the world’s tallest buildings.
1. Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has held the title of tallest building in the world since 2010, when it was created as part of the shopping and entertainment district of Downtown Dubai. At 2,717 feet tall, the building also has the highest number of floors, 163. The Burj Khalifa mainly houses a hotel and luxury residences, but visitors can visit several observation decks and a lounge at floor 154. Tickets to visit the highest observation deck in the world, at floor 148, start at about $103. But the Burj Khalifa is set to be eclipsed as the tallest building in the world when the 3,281-foot Jeddah Tower, currently under construction in Saudi Arabia, is completed in 2021.
2. Shanghai Tower
The tallest building in China and the second tallest in the world, Shanghai Tower was opened in 2017. Along with Jin Mao Tower (#23 tallest) and Shanghai World Financial Center (#10 tallest), the three buildings are the centerpiece of the city’s financial district. For one of the most populated cities on earth—and growing—Shanghai may benefit from expanding upwards. At 2,073 feet and 128 floors, this “vertical city” is a mix of offices, shopping, dining, an observatory located on the 118th floor, and even a museum. Rates to go up start at around $27.
3. Makkah Royal Clock Tower
Move over, Big Ben: The four clock faces of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, lit by LED lights, are the largest and highest in the world. At 1,972 feet and 120 floors, this gorgeous clock tower looks like it’s been there for ages, but it was just completed in 2012. Located in the historic center of the holy city of Makkah (Mecca), Saudi Arabia, near the Grand Mosque, the third-tallest building houses a hotel that caters to the many Muslims making pilgrimages to the city, with six smaller buildings surrounding it also offering accommodations. Makkah is actually one of the 15 most visited cities around the world. Visitors can go up to the observation deck, but guests must be Muslim to enter Makkah. If you are visiting, contact the hotel for information on pricing and availability for the viewing deck.
4. Ping An Financial Center
The 1,965-foot, 115-story office building is the focal point of the fast-growing Chinese city of Shenzhen. Named for Chinese insurance company Ping An and completed in 2017, the office building easily connects with the city’s metro and commercial and residential properties throughout the burgeoning metropolis, which was China’s first Special Economic Zone. In the building’s podium, an amphitheater-like space features retail and dining options. The observation deck at the top offers 360-degree views: Tickets cost around $29.
5. Lotte World Tower
The Lotte World Tower quite literally towers over the rest of the skyline of Seoul, South Korea—it’s the tallest building in the city, and the country as well. At 1,819 feet tall, it has more actual floors (123) than Ping An. The building, completed in 2017, serves many purposes: office space, luxury hotel, residences, and convention center; next door are the popular indoor-outdoor amusement parks of Lotte World as well as the shopping and entertainment of Lotte World Mall. Visitors can go up to the observation deck, café, and gift shop at floor 123 for about $22. If you’re considering Seoul, fall is the most affordable time to visit this expensive destination.
6. One World Trade Center
New York City’s One World Trade Center is both a monument to the Twin Towers, which were destroyed on September 11, 2001, and an assertion of the financial district’s continued vitality. Its symbolic 1,776 feet, recalling the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, is just one of 11 fascinating facts about One World Trade Center. With 94 floors topped by a 408-foot spire, the office building opened in 2014 next to the 9/11 Memorial. Also called Freedom Tower, it’s currently the tallest building in the Western hemisphere. Visitors can take in the 360-degree views from the observatory at the top, which also features exhibitions and restaurants. Tickets start at $35.
7. Guangzhou CTF Finance Center
The tallest building in the ancient city of Guangzhou, also called Canton, is the CTF Finance Center (not to be confused with the International Finance Center, later in the list). Guangzhou’s economic prowess is on full display with its collection of skyscrapers, led by this building at 1,739 feet and 111 floors, completed in 2016. Encompassing a hotel, residences, and offices, the building’s observation deck has a spectacular view of the city and Canton Tower (a landmark that doesn’t make this list because it’s solely a television and observation tower). You can also check out Rosewood Hotel’s Sky Bar on the 107th floor.
8. CITIC Tower
Here’s a surprising fact about skyscrapers: The curvature of the tallest building in Beijing was inspired by Chinese zun wine vessels, thus its nickname, “China Zun.” Just completed in 2018, the office tower was built as the center of the city’s new central business district. At 1,731 feet and 109 floors, visitors can ride up in double-decker elevators to the observation deck at the top of this elegant addition to the Beijing skyline.
9. Taipei 101
The first skyscraper on our list that predates the Burj Khalifa, the 1,667-foot Taipei 101 held the title of the tallest building in the world from its completion in 2004 until knocked off the top, figuratively speaking, by the current titleholder. Located in Taipei, Taiwan’s Xinyi District, which is known for its shopping, commerce, and entertainment, the tiered or “stacked” building is shaped in the traditional “pagoda” style and features heavily in the city’s New Year’s celebrations. The 101-floor office building also holds a shopping mall, restaurants, and an observatory on the 89th floor—weather permitting, you can also head up to the outside area on the 91st floor. Tickets cost around $20.