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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.

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Tall apartment buildings in the modern section of Cartagena, Colombia 2014.Watch The World/Shutterstock

How to measure buildings

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.

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Burj KhalifaTomasz Czajkowski/shutterstock

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.

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Shanghai Towers Cityscape on BundVladimir ZH/Shutterstock

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 centrepiece 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.

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Makkah Clock TowerIjam Hairi/shutterstock

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 centre 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. 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.

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Shenzhen Civic Center CBD Ping An Financial CenterHelloRF Zcool/shutterstock

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 amphitheatre-like space features retail and dining options. The observation deck at the top offers 360-degree views: Tickets cost around $29.

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Lotte tower in Seoulsj_p/shutterstock

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 centre; 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.

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The One World Trade CenterATGImages/shutterstock

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, recalls the year of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 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.

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Guangzhou CTF Finance CenterOneLife88/shutterstock

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.

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Beijing CBD skyline panorama, business center area mapmaliao/shutterstock

8. CITIC Tower

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 centre 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.

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Panoramic cityscape of Taipei skyline and skyscraper.FenlioQ/shutterstock

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.

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Shanghai pudong lujiazui skyscraperscyo bo/shutterstock

10. Shanghai World Financial Center

The second in the trio of Shanghai’s financial beacons, this 1,622-foot building also houses shops, dining, and a five-star hotel, one of the highest in the world. The centrepiece of the 101-floor office building, completed in 2008, is the portal at the top, which looks like a giant open window; this opening gave the building its nickname, “the bottle opener” (visitors can buy actual bottle openers shaped like the building in the gift shop). Observation decks are located on floors 94, 97, and 100, where you can walk down a long viewing gallery above the portal. Tickets to go all the way up cost around $26.

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International Commerce CenterTungCheung/shutterstock

11. International Commerce Center

This rather plain 1,588-foot building on Hong Kong’s Kowloon peninsula comes alive at night with a spectacular light and music show over Victoria Harbor. With Two IFC across the water, the skyscraper duo makes an imposing entrance to the harbour. Completed in 2010 and mainly used as an office building, the ICC is also home to the highest hotel in the world, the luxury Ritz Carlton, on the top floors of the building. Take in the view of Hong Kong Island from the observation deck, Sky100, on the 100th floor for about $20 if you purchase online. The hotel’s sky bar, Ozone, is even higher, at floor 118.

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Landmark 81 SkydeckTommyTeo/shutterstock

12. Vincom Landmark 81

The tallest building in Southeast Asia is Vincom Landmark 81 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Completed in 2018 on the Saigon River’s western bank, the 1,540-foot, 81-floor skyscraper is mainly residential, with shopping and even an ice rink on the lower floors, and a hotel at the top. It’s part of a new urban development project that includes housing and the green spaces of Vincom Central Park. The observation deck just opened in spring 2019 on floors 79 to 81; the brave can attempt SkyTouch, an outdoor area where harnessed visitors can actually lean out over the edge. Tickets start at about $35.

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Changsha, Hunan Xiangjiang scenery with the city buildings / Changsha cbdHelloRF Zcool/shutterstock

13. Changsha IFS Tower T1

Another recent addition to the list, this skyscraper in the Furong District of Changsha, the capital of China’s Hunan province, was completed in 2018. Along with the much shorter Tower 2, the buildings offer office space as they rise up from the Changsha IFS Complex, a retail and entertainment mall. The 1,483-foot, 94-floor building also houses a hotel at the top.

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twin tower Petronas (KLCC).EIANSTA/shutterstock

14. Petronas Twin Tower 1

These gorgeous identical skyscrapers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tie for spots 14 and 15 on our list. The buildings, at 1,483 feet and 88 floors, caused quite a fuss when they came on the scene in 1998 and snatched the title of world’s tallest building from Chicago’s Sears Tower (now known as Willis Tower), which had held the honor since 1974. Because so much of the Petronas’ extra height came from their spires, Chicagoans were none too happy. Was this cheating? The CTBUH convened and decided that the spires should count towards the buildings’ height, so the towers retained the top spot until Taipei 101 took over in 2004.

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The Petronas TowersMilletStudio/shutterstock

15. Petronas Twin Tower 2

As for the two towers themselves, the highest twins in the world, they were created as evidence of Malaysia’s growing economy and quickly became the dominating landmark of the capital city’s skyline. Linked by a sky bridge on the 41st floor that allows people to more easily share the two buildings’ amenities, the towers mainly contain offices, with a shopping mall at the bottom. Surrounding the buildings is the urban green space of KLCC Park. Visitors can head to the sky bridge and to the observation deck on floor 86 of Tower 2 for about $20.

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Zifeng TowerDan Hanscom/shutterstock

16. Zifeng Tower

Ancient meets modern in the lovely eastern Chinese city of Nanjing. Inside the old city walls, Zifeng Tower signals this sleepy city as an up-and-coming commercial and cultural hub. Designed in a triangular shape to maximize views and mix into both the old and new architecture, the 1,476-foot, 66-floor building looks over the mountains and lake nearby. Completed in 2010, Zifeng Tower houses a hotel, shops, restaurants, offices, and an observation deck at the top.

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Chicago skylineRudy Balasko/shutterstock

17. Willis Tower

Still commonly called the Sears Tower, insurance company Willis Group Holdings bought the naming rights to the Chicago landmark in 2009. The tower became the world’s tallest building upon its completion in 1974, taking the top honour from the World Trade Center in New York City (which was briefly the tallest from its completion in 1971, when it took over from 40-year title holder Empire State Building). The then-Sears Tower held onto the title for over 20 years until the aforementioned scuffle with Petronas Towers in 1998. Mainly an office building, the tower is undergoing a renovation, scheduled to be completed in 2020, to create retail and dining space, among other new amenities. Visitors can go up to the Skydeck at the top of the 1,451-foot, 108-floor icon for $25.

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KK100ESB Professional/shutterstock

18. KK100

China continues its dominance of the tall buildings list with its second entry from the fast-growing city of Shenzhen, the 1,449-foot, 100-floor KK100, completed in 2011. Mainly an office building with a hotel at the top, KK100 was part of a plan for the financial district’s development, which also included additional residential buildings and shops in the podium at the base of the building. The top floors of the building comprise the St. Regis hotel and its 96th-floor Sky Lobby, an observation deck-like area completely enclosed in glass to make visitors feel like they’re floating in the sky. At the very top, the 100th floor houses the hotel’s Decanter Bar.

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Guangzhou International Finance CenterPavel L Photo and Video/shutterstock

19. Guangzhou International Finance Center

With its companion, CTF Finance Center, the two skyscrapers flank an open plaza in the Zhujiang New Town area of Guangzhou, a central hub for cultural and commercial development. Completed in 2010, the 1,439-foot, 103-floor building contains offices and a Four Seasons hotel on the upper floors. The hotel‘s massive atrium that rises from the 70th floor lets visitors look all the way up to the skylight of the building. A Sky Bar and restaurant take the top floors—and there’s even a helipad on the roof, the highest in the world.

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Colorful HDR image of midtown Manhattan, New York City including the 432 Park Avenue building on a clear dayThe World in HDR/Shutterstock

20. 432 Park Avenue

In New York City, space is scarce, so it’s better to go up, not out. The design of the tall and thin rectangle at 432 Park Avenue, completed in 2015, reflects this upward mobility, as well as its prime location overlooking Central Park. Comprised of luxury residential apartments whose former inhabitants include Jennifer Lopez and Alex Rodriguez, the 1,397-foot, 85-floor building fits into its tony neighbourhood even as it towers above it. Unfortunately, the view from the top is not open to the public.

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Dubai skyscrapers. Dubai Marina panoramic view, skyline, cityscape. Evening skyline. Dubai sunset. Dubai futuristic skyline. Skyscrapers Princess Tower, Cayan tower, Marina 101.Dmitry Birin/Shutterstock

21. Marina 101

The art-deco topper of this Dubai skyscraper, completed in 2017, brings the Empire State Building to mind. Located in the yacht-filled Dubai Marina, this 1,394-foot, 101-floor residential building, which also contains the Middle East’s first Hard Rock Hotel, is right at home among the restaurants, beaches, and shops of the area. The hotel’s club and restaurant are set to occupy the top floors.

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Chicago - The Trump International Hotel and Tower and Chicago RiverAlin Lyre/Shutterstock

22. Trump International Hotel and Tower

Built along the Chicago River in the centre of downtown at the site of the Chicago Sun-Times building, this hotel and residential skyscraper stands at 1,389 feet and 98 floors. Also encompassing lifestyle amenities including restaurants and a spa, the tower incorporates green space at its base with a park, lily pond, and river walk. In addition, shops line the promenade. Visitors can take in the lovely view from the outdoor restaurant Terrace 16.

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Jin Mao Toweratiger/shutterstock

23. Jin Mao Tower

The third in the trio of Shanghai’s tallest skyscrapers is also the oldest. The Jin Mao Tower, completed in 1999, was the tallest building in the city until 2008 when the Shanghai World Financial Center came on the scene. The 1,380-foot, 88-floor tower houses shopping and entertainment on its lower levels, with offices on higher floors capped off by the Grand Hyatt Shanghai. The 88th-floor observation deck includes the Skywalk, where visitors in harnesses can actually sit on and walk along the outdoor glass ledge of the building, and even hang over it—no railings. Tickets for the observation deck are about $17; the Skywalk is about $56.

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Princess TowerPavel L Photo and Video/shutterstock

24. Princess Tower

When it was completed in 2012, Dubai Marina’s Princess Tower was the tallest all-residential building in the world at 1,358 feet and 101 floors (the honor currently goes to 432 Park Avenue). This princess wears a crown, literally: at the top of the building, decorative “teeth” ring a striped dome topped by a spire. Located just across the street from Marina 101, the two skyscrapers share the prime location for retail, eateries, and entertainment. The top floor isn’t open to the public; but if you’re lucky enough to be invited to a meeting or soirée in the event space there, you can take in the awesome view of the coastline.

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Al Hamra TowerPhilip Lange/shutterstock

25. Al Hamra Tower

The spiraling design of the awesome Al Hamra Tower gives the appearance of movement to this 1,354-foot, 80-floor skyscraper in Kuwait City, Kuwait. The curvature isn’t just for looks: It also helps to reduce solar heating. Located in the city’s commercial district, the building, completed in 2011, features lower floors comprised of retail, dining, and entertainment, with the rest of the tower used as office space.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest