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Oriental Pearl Tower – Shanghai, China

The bustling city of Shanghai has long been a hotbed of innovation in China.  One of the latest structures to emerge in the city is the beautiful Oriental Pearl Tower located in the Bund strip in Pudong District right on the Haungpu River.  It is the centerpiece of the city with a modern look that towers over every other building in the city.


The Oriental Pearl Tower was an ambitious project started by civic leaders to ease telecommunication problems in the rapidly developing city of Shanghai.  A concurrent goal of the project was also to provide a focal point for the city with an easily recognizable landmark.

Construction began in 1992 on a $10 million US budget.  It was finished in a speedy two years.  Over the last decade, the tower has become the city's most famous landmark.  Internationally, it has become more successful than the Eiffel Tower in terms of generated revenues.  Estimates place its 'brand value' at over $6 billion US, an average of 3 million visitors per year, and a about 25 million visitors throughout its lifetime.


The Oriental pearl Tower is a mixed-use tower with telecommunications transmitters broadcasting over 50 miles, a hotel, a restaurant, and several observation decks.  Despite a modern look with metal and concrete, the design is rooted in traditional Chinese culture.  The definitive elements of the tower are its eleven spheres or 'pearls' distributed along its entire height.  The largest pearl is 50 meters in diameter near the base, and the second largest pearl is 40 meters in diameter near the top.  When looking at the tower from afar, it appears as though pearls are dropping from the sky onto a lush green plate that symbolizes jade.  Thus, the two extremely valuable Chinese gemstones are represented in its structure.

Between the two main spheres are three columns of about 9 meters diameter.  A high-speed double-decker elevator along with two regular elevators can carry 50 people at once to the many different levels of the tower.  There is a large revolving restaurant, a nightclub, a conference room, 20 hotel rooms, and three separate observation decks.  The total height of the tower is 468 meters, making it the third highest tower in the world.

If you're visiting Shanghai, don't forget to stop by the Oriental Pearl Tower.  You can't miss it, and it's one of the most popular attractions in the region for sightseeing, shopping, and dining.