10 of the World's Wackiest Skylines

Soaring skyscrapers and fascinating architecture make for the most visually arresting cities.

By: Rachel Tepper Paley

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Shanghai, China

Shanghai’s futuristic skyline is dominated by, among other things, the Oriental Pearl Tower, an oddity of 11 stacked spheres, and the Shanghai World Financial Center, which with its trapezoidal keyhole, looks a bit like a bottle opener. But Shanghai’s abundance of modern structures makes it easy to overlook that the city boasts more art deco buildings than any other in the world.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Once a sleepy fishing village, today Dubai is a buzzing metropolis dotted with gorgeous and mind-bending structures. Here you’ll find the tallest building on Earth, the Burj Khalifa, which towers a staggering 2,722 above Dubai’s already dizzying skyline.

Tokyo, Japan

Twice in recent history devastated by massive earthquakes that flattened scores of historic properties, Tokyo’s skyline is largely modern and contemporary. One of its most famous buildings, Tokyo Tower, doesn’t even look like it belongs in Japan at all; modeled after the Eiffel Tower, it soars 1,092 feet above the city. The most romantic part of Tokyo’s skyline, of course, isn’t a building at all: The snow-capped peak of Mt. Fuji can be seen rising above metropolis on a clear day.

Singapore

A wide range of influences and styles from around the world dazzle Singapore’s skyline. One of its most distinctive buildings is the Marina Bay Sands, a mammoth structure comprising three towers topped by a 1,120-foot-long SkyPark, which includes a nearly 500-foot-long infinity swimming pool.

New York, N.Y.

Skyscrapers abound in New York City, which boasts one of the largest and most varied collections of buildings in the world. From the art ceco Chrysler and Empire State buildings, to the ultra-modern Freedom Tower, to Frank Gehry’s mind-bending stainless-steel design at 8 Spruce Street, there’s a little something here for every kind of architecture lover.

Hong Kong

With more skyscrapers taller than 490 feet than any other city in the world, Hong Kong’s skyline is a glittering feat of style and engineering. Many of its most beautiful buildings hug both banks of Victoria Harbour, which means that the city’s most striking views are arguably from the water itself.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A blend of old colonial styles, influences from across Asia, Malay Islamic tradition, and modern architecture, the skyline of Kuala Lumpur is one of the most varied and interesting in the world. Its most defining structure, though, might be the Petronas Towers, twin 88-foot cylinders of reinforced concrete. Its steel-and-glass facade was designed to resemble motifs found in Islamic art, a nod to Malaysia’s large Muslim population.

Las Vegas, Nev.

Few skylines are as glitzy as that of Las Vegas, which blinks and shines with neon intensity. Many of its famous landmarks are hotels and casinos, and of course, replicas of international landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower.

Macau, China

Taking a note from Las Vegas, Macau’s skyline blinks and dazzles thanks to its many illuminated casinos and hotels. Elsewhere in the city, things are a bit tamer: With a colonial history dating back to the 16th century, Macau also boasts a wealth of baroque and neo-classical architecture

London, U.K.

From regal late 17th-century churches to the rotund Swiss Re building erected in 2004 (more popularly known as the "Gherkin"), London’s architecture spans a huge swath of styles. It’s home to the tallest building in the European Union (at least until Brexit), a glass-enclosed, 1,016-foot-tall beauty appropriately known as "The Shard."

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