Photograph of the week: Shanghai, taken from the top of one of the world’s tallest buildings


At last count, 24.1 million people called Shanghai, China, home. This makes it the most populous city in the world. This photo, taken from Jin Mao Tower, gives just a hint of what living in Shanghai might be like. Crowded, to be sure. But also breathtaking in its expanse, both outwards and upwards. There is much to be awestruck by in a city of this magnitude. Especially when seen from high above the madding crowds.

Not without reason was Shanghai once called the ‘world’s most happening city’ by Time magazine. Once a humble fishing village, Shanghai is now a global financial hub, and home to the world’s busiest container port. Sometimes referred to as “the Oriental Paris”, Shanghai is also famous, and popular with tourists, for its blended culture of East and West; its historical landmarks; and its modern, ever-expanding skylines. Speaking of which, the Chinese characters in the city’s name – “Shang” and “Hai” – literally translate to “above the sea”. Appropriately enough, given this birds’ eye view so very high above the Yangtze River Delta near the South China Sea.

Want to see this view for yourself? Head to Jin Mao Tower and venture out onto the Skywalk. If you dare. Jin Mao Tower offers visitors what they call a “wander in the cloud”. You are invited to walk along a 60-metre-long (66 yards), 1.2-metre-wide (1.3 yards) glass skywalk. Without rails. Located on the 88th sightseeing floor, this affords sweeping views of the city and all the activity along the banks of the Huangpu River below. Walks happen every 30 minutes from 9am to 9.30pm, with 15 visitors allowed per walk. Visitors wishing to experience the skywalk are also asked to arrive at the 88th sightseeing floor 45 minutes in advance for a security check.

If you dare not brave the Skywalk, the 88th Sightseeing Floor is also open to visitors from 8.30am to 9.30pm. The observatory floor towers above the city at 340.1 meters (1,116 ft), with the tower itself being 420.5 metres high.

At the time of its completion in 1999, Jin Mao Tower was China’s tallest building, but today it sits in fourth place, behind Shanghai Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Oriental Pearl Tower. This doesn’t make it any less iconic, however. Its metal and glass wall design mimics historic pagoda forms and allow visitors views of the city reflected in its facade. So whether you’re at the top of Jin Mao Tower looking over the city, or at the bottom looking up at the city in its reflection, you will see Shanghai at its most spectacular.

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Comments (5)

  1. Sarah Bugden says:

    I remember as a child being ridiculously excited about being on a school trip to Paris and looking down from the Eiffel Tower on the city below. Then, some years later I made it to Manhattan and the top of the Empire State Building and getting a real buzz from looking down on the grid system below but the view in Shanghai looks to take things to new heights (forgive the pun).

  2. Jack says:

    I can’t believe the “wander in the clouds” glass walkway that is without rails. I just don’t have a head for heights so I find the idea absolutely terrifying. Surely there must be some safety precautions? 1.3 metres isn’t very wide at all. It may have great views but I think I’ll give that one a miss thank you.

  3. Jim says:

    Yes, the view from these tall buildings is always brilliant, fabulous, majestic and however many more adjectives you want to add in but it is often the getting up there and back down which is usually just as interesting.

    When I went to the top of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, I think that I was told that I was in the fastest lift in the world. Another thing about the Burj is the amazing exhibition on its building when you get back down to ground level again. A lot of people spend more time on that than taking in the views from the top.

  4. Sally Arnold says:

    Ahh – the classic sunset picture! The trouble with all these skyscrapers is judging the best time to visit.

    Do you go at first light for a tranquil picture? Of course you usually get best visibility during the day when the light allows you to pick out much of the detail below.

    Then again sunset often has more of a multi-colour range of colours than dawn.

    Finally, these cities with their bright lights, neon and streams of slow-moving car headlights are often at their most spectacular at night.

    Difficult choices!

  5. Frank Mckinney says:

    What I like about this photo is the way it captured the buildings and the lights from afar. It shows how industrialized Shanghai as of today and how it progressed through out the years. There are surely a lot of restaurants that foodies can visit and tourists would definitely enjoy shopping here. I am just curious about the struggles of the city government in maintaining the order and cleanliness knowing that it is the most populated city in the world.

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