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Ostankino Tower – Moscow, Russia

The Ostankino Tower in Moscow, Russia, is an architectural curiosity in a city that is not known for tall buildings.  It is a mixed-use tower with some 15,000 square meters of floor space that stands 540 meters tall, making it the 2nd highest tower next to the CN Tower in Toronto.

It was built in 1967 during the Cold War as a solution to Moscow's (and European Russia's) telecommunications problems.  When it was built, it was the tallest freestanding structure in the world.  It held this title until 1975 when the CN Tower was completed. 

The overall design of the Ostankino Tower is fundamentally different than the CN Tower.  The Ostankino Tower has a finished exterior along its entire height, whereas the CN Tower is primarily exposed concrete.  The Ostankino Tower is not a tapered tower either, and is designed with a series of ringed platforms housing a variety of unique facilities.

There are about 45 different accessible levels in the tower with a dozen ring decks and balconies.  The high-speed elevator can whisk visitors to the top observation deck (at 337 meters) in just under a minute.  The views from the deck are unique in Moscow as the tower is the tallest structure around by a large margin.  Nearby the observation deck is a luxury restaurant called the Seventh Heaven.

Broadcast facilities include 11 television stations, 12 radio stations, 17 satellite TV stations, cell phone transmitters, and other wireless telecommunication applications.  The Ostankino Tower boasts one of the most diverse sets of broadcasting capabilities of any tower in the world.

In 2000, a fire swept through and destroyed most of the broadcasting facilities in the tower.  Three people died and the tower was brought close to the brink of collapse.  Luckily, the fire was put out in a timely manner and the entire tower was re-wired to better handle the growing telecommunications demands of the new democratic Russian capital.

There are many old sights to see in Moscow, but the one modern tourist attraction that's a must-see in the city is definitely the Ostankino Television and Broadcast Tower.