List of tallest buildings and structures

The world's tallest artificial structure is the 829.8-metre-tall (2,722 ft) Burj Khalifa in Dubai (of the United Arab Emirates). The building gained the official title of "tallest building in the world" and the tallest self-supported structure at its opening on January 9, 2010. The second-tallest self-supporting structure and the tallest tower in the world is the Tokyo Skytree. The tallest guyed structure is the KVLY-TV mast.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, an organization that certifies buildings as the "World's Tallest", recognizes a building only if at least 50% of its height is made up of floor plates containing habitable floor area.[1] Structures that do not meet this criterion, such as the CN Tower, are defined as "towers".

There are dozens of radio and television broadcasting towers which measure over 600 metres (about 2,000 ft) in height, and only the tallest are recorded in publicly available information sources.

Debate over definitions

The assessment of the height of artificial structures has been controversial. Various standards have been used by different organizations which has meant that the title of world's tallest structure or building has changed depending on which standards have been accepted. The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat has changed its definitions over time. Some of the controversy regarding the definitions and assessment of tall structures and buildings has included the following:

  • the definition of a structure, a building and a tower
  • whether a structure, building or tower under construction should be included in any assessment
  • whether a structure, building or tower has to be officially opened before it is assessed
  • whether structures built in and rising above water should have their below-water height included in any assessment.
  • whether a structure, building or tower that is guyed is assessed in the same category as self-supporting structures.

Within an accepted definition of a building further controversy has included the following factors:

  • whether only habitable height of the building is considered
  • whether communication towers with observation galleries should be considered "habitable" in this sense
  • whether rooftop antennas, viewing platforms or any other architecture that does not form a habitable floor should be included in the assessment
  • whether a floor built at a high level of a telecommunications or viewing tower should change the tower's definition to that of a "building"

Tallest structures

This category does not require the structure to be "officially" open but does require it to be "topped out."

The tallest artificial structure is Burj Khalifa, a skyscraper in Dubai that reached 829.8 m (2,722 ft) in height on January 17, 2009.[2] By April 8, 2008 it had been built higher than the KVLY-TV mast in North Dakota, USA.[3] That September it officially surpassed Poland's 646.38 m (2,120.7 ft) Warsaw radio mast, which stood from 1974 to 1991, to become the tallest structure ever built. Guyed lattice towers such as these masts had held the world height record since 1954.

The Petronius Platform stands 610 m (2,000 ft) off the sea floor leading some, including Guinness World Records 2007, to claim it as the tallest freestanding structure in the world. However, it is debated whether underwater height should be counted, in the same manner as height below ground is ignored on buildings. The Troll A platform is 472 m (1,549 ft), without any part of that height being supported by wires. The tension-leg type of oil platform has even greater below-water heights with several examples more than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) deep. However, these platforms are not considered constant structures as the vast majority of their height is made up of the length of the tendons attaching the floating platforms to the sea floor. Despite this, Guinness World Records 2009 listed the Ursa tension leg platform as the tallest structure in the world with a total height of 1,306 m (4,285 ft). The Magnolia Tension-leg Platform in the Gulf of Mexico is even taller with a total height of 1,432 m (4,698 ft).

Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan, set records in three of the four skyscraper categories at the time it opened in 2004; at the time the Burj Khalifa opened in 2010 it remained the world's tallest inhabited building 509.2 m (1,671 ft) as measured to its architectural height (spire). The height of its roof 449.2 m (1,474 ft) and highest occupied floor 439.2 m (1,441 ft) had been surpassed by the Shanghai World Financial Center with corresponding heights of 487 and 474 m (1,598 and 1,555 ft). Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) was the highest in the final category: the greatest height to top of antenna of any building in the world at 527 m (1,729 ft).

Burj Khalifa broke the height record in all four categories for completed buildings.

Tallest structure by category

Due to the disagreements over how to measure height and classify structures, engineers have created various definitions for categories of buildings and other structures. One measure includes the absolute height of a building, another includes only spires and other permanent architectural features, but not antennas. The tradition of including the spire on top of a building and not including the antenna dates back to the rivalry between the Chrysler Building and 40 Wall Street. A modern-day example is that the antenna on top of Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) is not considered part of its architectural height, while the spires on top of the Petronas Twin Towers are counted.

Note: The following table is a list of the tallest completed structure in each of the structural categories below. For a list of structures by function see the list later in the article. There can only be one structure in each category, unless the tallest is the same for more than one structure in the same category.

Category Structure Country City Height (meters) Height (feet) Year built Coordinates
Building[4]Burj Khalifa United Arab EmiratesDubai829.82,722201025°11′50.0″N 55°16′26.6″E
Self-supporting tower[5]Tokyo Skytree JapanTokyo6342,080201135°42′36.5″N 139°48′39″E
Guyed steel lattice mastKVLY-TV mast United StatesBlanchard, North Dakota628.82,063196347°20′32″N 97°17′25″W
Mast radiatorLualualei VLF transmitter United StatesLualualei, Hawaii4581,503197221°25′11.87″N 158°08′53.67″W ; 21°25′13.38″N 158°09′14.35″W
Twin buildingPetronas Twin Towers MalaysiaKuala Lumpur4521,48219983°09′27.45″N 101°42′40.7″E; 3°09′29.45″N 101°42′43.4″E
ChimneyEkibastuz GRES-2 Power Station KazakhstanEkibastuz419.71,377198752°1′26.3″N 75°28′34.5″E
RadarDimona Radar Facility IsraelDimona4001,312200830°58′6.93″N 35°05′49.64″E ; 30°58′32.46″N 35°05′55.25″E
Lattice towerKiev TV Tower UkraineKiev3851,263197350°28′16.49″N 30°27′11.97″E
Electricity pylonZhoushan Island Overhead Powerline Tie ChinaZhoushan3701,214200929°56′2.78″N 122°2′10.12″E ; 29°54′41.39″N 122°1′26.38″E
Partially guyed towerGerbrandy Tower NetherlandsIJsselstein366.81,203196152°00′36.24″N 05°03′12.87″E
Guyed tubular steel mastTV Tower Vinnytsia UkraineVinnytsia3541,161196149°14′30.04″N 28°25′25.25″E
BridgeMillau Viaduct FranceMillau3421,122200444°05′09.97″N 03°01′17.94″E
Blaw-Knox Tower (diamond cantilever tower)Lakihegy Tower HungarySzigetszentmiklós3141,031196847°22′23″N 19°00′16″E
DamJinping-I Dam ChinaLiangshan3051,001201328°11′07″N 101°37′42″E
Wind turbineGE 3.4-137 wind turbine at Naturstromspeicher Gaildorf[6] GermanyGaildorf246.5809201748.997075°N 9.809822°E / 48.997075; 9.809822 (GE 3.4-137 Wind Turbine)
Statue (incl. base)Statue of Unity IndiaNarmada district, Gujarat240790201821.8380°N 73.7191°E / 21.8380; 73.7191 (Statue of Unity)
MinaretHassan II Mosque MoroccoCasablanca210689199333°36′28.71″N 7°37′58.16″W
Cooling towerKalisindh Thermal Power Station IndiaJhalawar202[7]663201224°32′04.97″N 76°05′57.89″E ; 24°31′58.33″N 76°06′06.81″E
MonumentGateway Arch United StatesSt. Louis, Missouri192630196538°37′28.62″N 90°11′5.87″W
Water towerMain tower of Kuwait Towers KuwaitKuwait City187614197929°23′22.75″N 48°00′11.57″E
Wooden structureATLAS-I at Kirtland Air Force Base United StatesAlbuquerque180600198035.029898°N 106.557574°W / 35.029898; -106.557574 (ATLAS-I)
Masonry towerAnaconda Smelter Stack United StatesAnaconda, Montana178.3585191946°06′36.53″N 112°54′48.8″W
Inclined structureOlympic Stadium CanadaMontreal175574197645°33′33.53″N 73°33′7.61″W
ObeliskSan Jacinto Monument United StatesLa Porte, Texas173.7570193929°44′59.46″N 95°04′50.52″W
Ferris wheelHigh Roller United StatesLas Vegas167.6550201436.117402°N 115.168127°W / 36.117402; -115.168127 (High Roller)
Masonry buildingMole Antonelliana ItalyTorino167.5550188945°04′8.45″N 7°41′35.62″E
FlagpoleJeddah Flagpole Saudi ArabiaJeddah171[8]561201421°30′28.23″N 39°10′11.04″E
Church towerUlmer Münster GermanyUlm162530189048°23′55″N 9°59′30.78″E
Industrial hallVehicle Assembly Building United StatesKennedy Space Center, Florida160525196628°35′9.64″N 80°39′2.11″W
Dome225 Liberty Street United StatesNew York197645198740°42′45″N 74°00′25″W
Memorial crossSanta Cruz del Valle de los Caídos SpainEl Escorial152.4500195740°38′31.46″N 4°9′19.6″W
TelescopeArecibo Telescope Puerto RicoArecibo, Puerto Rico150492196318°20′39″N 66°45′10″W
Roller coasterKingda Ka United StatesJackson, New Jersey138.98456200540°08′26.54″N 74°25′59.83″W
TombGreat Pyramid of Giza EgyptGiza138.8455.22560 BCE29°58′44.93″N 31°08′3.09″E
Air traffic control towerKuala Lumpur International Airport 2 Control Tower MalaysiaSepang141.3463.62013[9]

2.740486°N 101.679069°E / 2.740486; 101.679069 (Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 Control Tower)

StupaJetavanaramaya Sri LankaAnuradhapura122400
Wooden lattice towerGliwice Radio Tower PolandGliwice118387193550°18′48.12″N 18°41′20.26″E
Storage siloSchapfen Mill Tower GermanyUlm115377200548°25′57″N 9°58′58″E
Aerial tramway support towerPillar of third section of Gletscherbahn Kaprun AustriaKaprun113.6373196647°11′58.62″N 12°41′16.96″E
SphereEricsson Globe SwedenStockholm85279198959°17′36.92″N 18°04′58.79″E
LighthouseÎle Vierge Lighthouse FranceFinistère82.52711902
GopuramMurudeshwara Temple IndiaMurudeshwara76249200814.094197°N 74.485163°E / 14.094197; 74.485163 (Murudeshwara Temple)

Tallest destroyed structures by category, not surpassed by existing structures

There are some destroyed architectural structures which were taller than the tallest existing structure of their type. There are also destroyed structures omitted from this list that had been surpassed in height prior to being destroyed.

Category Structure Country City Height (metres) Height (feet) Coordinates Remarks
Guyed mastWarsaw Radio Mast PolandGąbin646.382,12152°22′3.74″N 19°48′8.73″ECompleted in 1974, collapsed on August 8, 1991
Scientific research towerBREN Tower United StatesNevada Test Site4621,51636°46′50.23″N 116°14′36.9″WCompleted in 1962, demolished May 23, 2012[10]
Guyed tubular steel mastShushi-Wan Omega Transmitter JapanTsushima3891,27634°36′53″N 129°27′13″ECompleted in 1973, dismantled in 1998
Structure for scientific experimentSmokey Shot Tower United StatesNevada Test Site21370037°11′13.63″N 116°4′7.93″WGuyed mast, which carried 44 kt yield nuclear bomb "Smokey" (part of operation Plumbbob) on top until its explosion on August 31, 1957
Wooden structureMühlacker Wood Radio Tower GermanyMühlacker19062348°56′27.67″N 8°51′8.24″ECompleted in 1934, destroyed on April 6, 1945, by the Germans to prevent usage by the Allies, replaced by mast radiator
Masonry buildingMole Antonelliana ItalyTurin167.5549.545°04′8.45″N 7°41′35.62″ESpire destroyed by a tornado in 1953 (rebuilt since then)
Pre-Industrial era buildingLincoln Cathedral United KingdomLincoln16052453°14′3.26″N 0°32′10.54″WCompleted in 1311, spire blown off in 1549
GasometerGasometer Zeche Nordstern GermanyGelsenkirchen147482Completed in 1938, damaged at an air raid on May 13, 1940 in such a manner, that it was not usable any more and had to be demolished.
Storage siloHenninger Turm GermanyFrankfurt12039450°05′50.18″N 8°41′36.81″EConstructed in 1961, demolished in 2013

Tallest building by function

Category Structure Country City Architectural top (metres) Architectural top (feet)
Mixed-use*Burj Khalifa United Arab EmiratesDubai8302,722
OfficePing An Finance Center ChinaShenzhen5551821
Military structureLarge masts of INS Kattabomman IndiaTirunelveli, Tamil Nadu4711,545
Residential432 Park Avenue United StatesNew York City425.51,396
HotelAbraj Al-Bait Towers Saudi ArabiaMekka6011,972
Scientific research towerAmazon Tall Tower Observatory Brazil160 km NE of Manaus325[11]1,066
EducationalMoscow State University RussiaMoscow240787
ReligiousHassan II Mosque MoroccoCasablanca210689
HospitalOutpatient Center, Houston Methodist Hospital United StatesHouston156.05511.8

* "Mixed-use" is defined as having three or more real estate uses (such as retail, office, hotel, etc.) that are physically and functionally integrated in a single property and are mutually supporting.[12]

Tallest buildings

Up until the late 1990s, the definition of “tallest building” was not altogether clear. It was generally understood to be the height of the building to the top of its architectural elements including spires, but not including "temporary" structures (such as antennas or flagpoles), which could be added or changed relatively easily without requiring major changes to the building's design. Other criteria for height measurement generally were not considered, which occasionally caused some controversy.

One historic case involved the building now famous for the Times Square Ball. Known as One Times Square (at 1475 Broadway in Midtown Manhattan), it was the headquarters for The New York Times, which gave Times Square its name. Completed in 1905, it reached a height of 364 feet (111 meters) to its roof, or 420 feet (130 meters) including its rooftop flagpole, which the Times vainly hoped would give it a record high status. But because a flagpole is not an integral architectural part of a building, One Times Square was not generally considered to be taller than the 390-foot-high (120 m) Park Row Building in Lower Manhattan, which was therefore still New York's tallest.[13]

A bigger controversy was the rivalry between two New York skyscrapers built in the Roaring Twenties — the Chrysler Building and the Bank of Manhattan Trust Building, now called the Trump Building but better known as 40 Wall Street (thus avoiding confusion with the many other Trump-named buildings). The latter was 927 feet (283 meters) tall, had a shorter pinnacle, and had a much higher top occupied floor (the second category in the 1996 criteria for tallest building). In contrast, the Chrysler Building employed a very long 125-foot (38 m) spire secretly assembled inside the building to claim the title of world's tallest building with a total height of 1,048 feet (319 m), despite having a lower top occupied floor and a shorter height when both buildings' spires are not counted in their heights. Although the architects of record for 40 Wall were H. Craig Severance and Yasuo Matsui, the firm of Shreve & Lamb (who also designed the Empire State Building) served as consulting architects. They wrote a newspaper article claiming that 40 Wall was actually the tallest, since it contained the world's highest usable floor. They pointed out that the observation deck of 40 Wall was nearly 100 feet (30 m) higher than the top floor of the Chrysler, whose surpassing spire was strictly ornamental and essentially inaccessible.[14] Despite the protest, the Chrysler Building was generally accepted as the tallest building in the world for almost a year, until it was surpassed by the Empire State Building’s 1,250 feet (380 meters) in 1931.

That was in turn surpassed by the 1,368-foot-high (417 m) twin towers of New York’s original World Trade Center in 1972, which were in turn surpassed by the Sears Tower in Chicago in 1974. Now called the Willis Tower (since 2009) it was 1,451 feet (442 meters) to its flat rooftop, or 1,518 feet (463 meters) including its original antennas.[15] But in 1978 One World Trade Center (commonly known as the north tower) attained a taller absolute height when it added its 360-foot (110 m) new broadcasting antenna, for a total height of 1,728 feet (527 meters). The WTC north tower maintained this height record (including its antenna) from 1978 until 2000, when the owners of the Willis Tower extended its broadcasting antennae for a total height of 1,729 feet (527 meters).[15] Thus the status of the Willis Tower as the “totally” tallest was restored in the face of a new threat looming in the Far East — the “Siamese Twins.”

A major controversy erupted upon completion of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 1998. These twin towers, at 1,483 feet (452 meters), had a higher architectural height (spires, not antennas), but a lower absolute pinnacle height and a lower top occupied floor than the Willis Tower in Chicago. Counting buildings as structures with floors throughout, and with antenna masts excluded, the Willis was still considered the tallest at that time. Excluding their spires, which are 9 meters (30 feet) higher than the flat roof of Willis, the Petronas Towers are not taller than Willis. At their convention in Chicago, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) found the Willis Tower (without its antennas) to be the third-tallest building, and the Petronas Towers (with their spires) to be the world's two tallest buildings.[13]

Responding to the ensuing controversy, the CTBUH then revised their criteria and defined four categories in which the world's tallest building can be measured,[16] retaining the old criterion of height to architectural top, and adding three new categories:[13]

  1. Height to Architectural Top (including spires and pinnacles, but not antennas, masts or flagpoles). This measurement is the most widely used and is used to define the rankings of the 100 Tallest Buildings in the World.
  2. Highest Occupied Floor
  3. Height to Top of Roof (omitted from criteria from November 2009 onwards)[17]
  4. Height to Tip

The height-to-roof criterion was discontinued because relatively few modern tall buildings possess flat rooftops, making this criterion difficult to determine and measure.[18] The CTBUH has further clarified their definitions of building height, including specific criteria concerning subbasements and ground level entrances (height measured from lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance rather than from a previously undefined "main entrance"), building completion (must be topped out both structurally and architecturally, fully clad, and able to be occupied), condition of the highest occupied floor (must be continuously used by people living or working and be conditioned, thus including observation decks, but not mechanical floors) and other aspects of tall buildings.[18][19]

The height is measured from the level of the lowest, significant, open-air, pedestrian entrance. At the time, the Willis Tower held first place in the second and third categories, the Petronas Towers held the first category, and the original WTC north tower held the fourth (height to tip) category with its antenna.[13] In 2000, however, a new antenna mast was placed on the Willis Tower, giving it the record in the fourth category. On April 20, 2004, the 101-storey Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan, was completed, taking the world record for the first three categories. On July 21, 2007, it was announced that Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, had surpassed Taipei 101. Since its completion in early 2010, Burj Khalifa leads in all categories (the first building to do so) with its spire height of 2,722 feet (830 meters).

Before Burj Khalifa was completed, Willis Tower led in the height-to-tip category with 1,729 feet (527 meters) after its antenna was extended in 2000, making Willis Tower slightly taller height-to-tip than the WTC north tower's antenna that measured 1,728 feet (527 meters). After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the WTC became the world's tallest two buildings to be destroyed or demolished. They took that distinction from the Singer Building, which stood 612 feet (187 meters) tall until the late 1960s where One Liberty Plaza now stands right across Church Street from the WTC site.

A different superlative for skyscrapers is their number of floors. The original World Trade Center set that record at 110 in the early 1970s, and this was not surpassed until the Burj Khalifa opened in 2010.

Structures such as the CN Tower, the Ostankino Tower and the Oriental Pearl Tower are excluded from these categories because they are not "habitable buildings", which are defined as frame structures made with floors and walls throughout.[1]

History of record holders in each CTBUH category

Date (event)Architectural topHighest occupied floorRoofTip
2010: Burj Khalifa completedBurj KhalifaBurj KhalifaBurj Khalifa
2009: CTBUH omits Height to Roof categoryTaipei 101Shanghai World Financial CenterWillis Tower
2008: Shanghai World Financial Center completedTaipei 101Shanghai World Financial CenterShanghai World Financial CenterWillis Tower
2003: Taipei 101 completedTaipei 101Taipei 101Taipei 101Willis Tower
2000: Willis Tower antenna extensionPetronas TowersWillis TowerWillis TowerWillis Tower
1998: Petronas Towers completedPetronas TowersWillis TowerWillis TowerWorld Trade Center
1996: CTBUH defines categoriesWillis TowerWillis TowerWillis TowerWorld Trade Center

Tallest freestanding structures on land

Freestanding structures must not be supported by guy wires, the sea or other types of support. It therefore does not include guyed masts, partially guyed towers and drilling platforms but does include towers, skyscrapers (pinnacle height) and chimneys. (See also history of tallest skyscrapers.)

The world's tallest freestanding structure on land is defined as the tallest self-supporting artificial structure that stands above ground. This definition is different from that of world's tallest building or world's tallest structure based on the percentage of the structure that is occupied and whether or not it is self-supporting or supported by exterior cables. Likewise, this definition does not count structures that are built underground or on the seabed, such as the Petronius Platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Visit world's tallest structure by category for a list of various other definitions.

The tallest freestanding structure on land is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The building surpassed the height of the previous record holder, the 553.3 m (1,815 ft) CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, on September 12, 2007. It was completed in 2010, with final height of 829.8 m (2,722 ft).


The following is a list of structures that have held the title as the tallest freestanding structure on land.

Tallest historical structures
Record from Record held (years) Name and location Constructed Height (metres) Height (feet) Coordinates Notes
c. 8000 BC 4000 Tower of Jericho, West Bank c. 8000 BC 8.5 28 31.872041°N 35.443981°E / 31.872041; 35.443981
c. 4000 BC 1350 Anu Ziggurat, Uruk c. 4000 BC 13 40
c. 2650 BC 40 Pyramid of Djoser, Egypt c. 2650 BC 62 203 29°52′16.53″N 31°12′59.59″E  
c. 2610 BC 5 Meidum Pyramid in Egypt c. 2610 BC 93.5 307 29°23′17″N 31°09′25″E Shortly after completion Meidum Pyramid collapsed due to bad design/instability and is now 65 m (213 ft).
c. 2605 BC 5 Bent Pyramid in Egypt c. 2605 BC 101.1 332 29°47′25″N 31°12′33″E Angle of slope decreased during construction to avoid collapse.
c. 2600 BC 40 Red Pyramid of Sneferu, Egypt c. 2600 BC 105 345 29°48′31.39″N 31°12′22.49″E  
c. 2560 BC 3871 Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt c. 2560 BC 146 481 29°58′44.93″N 31°08′3.09″E By 1647, the Great Pyramid had eroded to a height of approximately 139 m (456 ft).
 1311 238 Lincoln Cathedral in England 1092–1311 160 525 53°14′3.26″N 0°32′10.54″W The central spire was destroyed in a storm in 1549. While the reputed height of 525 ft (160 m) is accepted by most sources,[20][21][22][23][24][25] others consider it doubtful[26]
1549 20 St. Mary's Church in Stralsund, Germany 1384–1478 151 495 54°18′36.01″N 13°5′14.81″E
1569 4 Beauvais Cathedral in France 1225–1604 153 502 49°25′49″N 2°05′43″E Spire collapsed in 1573 (the cross was removed in 1572); today, the church stands at a height of 67.2 m (220.5 ft).
1573 94 (20+74) St. Mary's Church in Stralsund, Germany 1384–1478 151 495 54°18′36.01″N 13°5′14.81″E The spire burnt down after a lightning strike in 1647. The current spire's height is 104 m (341 ft).
1647 227 Strasbourg Cathedral in France 1439 142 469 48°34′54.22″N 7°45′1.48″E By 1647, the Great Pyramid had eroded to a height of approximately 139 m (456 ft) hence Strasbourg Cathedral was higher.
1874 2 St. Nikolai in Hamburg, Germany 1846–1874 147 483 53°32′50.94″N 9°59′26.12″E
1876 4 Cathédrale Notre Dame in Rouen, France 1202–1876 151 495 49°26′24.54″N 1°5′41.85″E  
1880 4 Cologne Cathedral in Germany 1248–1880 157 515 50°56′28.08″N 6°57′25.73″E ;50°56′29.11″N 6°57′25.85″E
1884 5 Washington Monument in Washington D.C., United States 1884 169 555 38°53′22.08″N 77°2′6.89″W The world's tallest all-stone structure, as well as the tallest obelisk-form structure.
1889 41 Eiffel Tower in Paris, France 1887–1889 300 986 48°51′29.77″N 2°17′40.09″E First structure to exceed 300 metres in height. The addition of a telecommunications tower in the 1950s brought the overall height to 324 m (1,063 ft).
1930 1 Chrysler Building in New York, United States 1928–1930 319 1,046 40°45′5.78″N 73°58′31.52″W
1931 36 Empire State Building in New York, United States 1930–1931 381 1,250 40°44′54.95″N 73°59′8.71″W First building with 100+ storeys. The addition of a pinnacle and antennas later increased its overall height to 448.7 m (1,472 ft). This was subsequently lowered to 443.1 m (1,454 ft).
1967 8 Ostankino Tower in Moscow, Soviet Union 1963–1967 540 1,762 55°49′10.94″N 37°36′41.79″E Remains the tallest in Europe. Fire in 2000 led to extensive renovation.
1975 32 CN Tower in Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1973–1976 553 1,815 43°38′33.22″N 79°23′13.41″W The tallest in the Western Hemisphere.
2007 present Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2004–2009 829.8 2,722 25°11′50.0″N 55°16′26.6″E Holder of world's tallest freestanding structure. Topped out at 829.8 m (2,722 ft) in 2009.

Notable mentions include the Pharos (lighthouse) of Alexandria, built in the third century BC and estimated between 115–135 m (377–443 ft). It was the world's tallest non-pyramidal structure for many centuries. Another notable mention includes the Jetavanaramaya stupa in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, which was built in the third century, and was similarly tall at 122 m (400 ft). These were both the world's tallest or second-tallest non-pyramidal structure for over a thousand years.

The tallest secular building between the collapse of the Pharos and the erection of the Washington Monument may have been the Torre del Mangia in Siena, which is 102 m (335 ft) tall, and was constructed in the first half of the fourteenth century, and the 97-metre-tall (318 ft) Torre degli Asinelli in Bologna, also Italy, built between 1109 and 1119.

World's highest observation deck

Timeline of development of world's highest observation deck since inauguration of Eiffel Tower.

Record from Record held (years) Name and location Constructed Height above ground Notes
m ft
1889 42 Eiffel Tower, Paris 1889 275 902 Two lower observation decks at 57 and 115 m (187 and 377 ft).
1931 42 Empire State Building, New York City 1931 369[27] 1,250 On the 102nd floor – a second observation deck is located on the 86th floor at 320 m (1,050 ft).
1973 1 World Trade Center, New York City 1973 399.4 1,310 Indoor observatory on the 107th floor of South Tower opened on April 4, 1973. Destroyed on September 11, 2001
1974 1 Willis Tower, Chicago 1974 412.4 1,353 103rd floor Skydeck opened on June 22, 1974
1975 1 World Trade Center, New York City 1973 419.7 1,377 Outdoor observatory on the South Tower rooftop opened on December 15, 1975. Destroyed on September 11, 2001
1976 32 CN Tower, Toronto 1976 446.5 1,464.9 Two further observation decks at 342 and 346 m (1,122 and 1,135 ft).
2008 3 Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai 2008 474 1,555 Two further observation decks at 423 and 439 m (1,388 and 1,440 ft).
2011 3 Canton Tower, Guangzhou 2011 488 1,601 The rooftop outdoor observation deck opened in December 2011. There are also several other indoor observation decks in the tower, the highest at 433.2 m (1,421 ft).
2014 2 Burj Khalifa, Dubai 2010 555 1,821 Opened on October 15, 2014 on the 148th floor. There is another observation deck at 452.1 m (1,483 ft) on the 124th floor, which has been open since the building was opened to the public.
2016 present Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China and Ping An Finance Centre (since 2017) 2015 562 1,841 Opened on July 1, 2016.

Higher observation decks have existed on mountain tops or cliffs, rather than on tall structures. The Grand Canyon Skywalk, constructed in 2007, protrudes 21 m (70 ft) over the west rim of the Grand Canyon and is approximately 1,100 m (3,600 ft) above the Colorado River, making it the highest of these types of structures.

Timeline of guyed structures on land

As most of the tallest structures are guyed masts, here is a timeline of world's tallest guyed masts, since the beginning of radio technology.

As many large guyed masts were destroyed at the end of World War II, the dates for the years between 1945 and 1950 may be incorrect. If Wusung Radio Tower survived World War II, it was the tallest guyed structure shortly after World War II.

Record from Record held (years) Name and location Constructed Height Coordinates Notes
m ft
1913 7 Central mast of Eilvese transmitter, Eilvese, Germany 1913 250 820 52°31′40″N 9°24′24″E Mast was divided in 145 m by an insulator, demolished in 1931
1920 3 Central masts of Nauen Transmitter Station, Nauen, Germany 1920 260 853 52°38′56″N 12°54′30″E 2 masts, demolished in 1946
1923 10 Masts of Ruiselede transmitter, Ruiselede, Belgium 1923 287 942 51°4′44″N 3°20′6.9″E? 8 masts, destroyed in 1940
1933 6 Lakihegy Tower, Lakihegy, Hungary 1933 314 1,031 47°22′23.45″N 19°0′17.21″E Blaw-Knox Tower, insulated against ground, destroyed in 1945; rebuilt
1939 7 Deutschlandsender Herzberg/Elster, Herzberg (Elster), Germany 1939 335 1,099 51°42′59.76″N 13°15′51.5″E Insulated against ground, dismantled 1946/1947
1946 2 Lakihegy Tower, Lakihegy, Hungary 1946 314 1,031 47°22′23.45″N 19°0′17.21″E Blaw-Knox Tower, Insulated against ground, rebuilt after destruction in 1945
1948 1 WIVB-TV Tower, Colden, New York, USA 1948 321.9 1,056 42°39′33.19″N 78°37′33.91″W
1949 1 Longwave transmitter Raszyn, Raszyn, Poland 1949 335 1,099 52°4′21.72″N 20°53′2.15″E Insulated against ground
1950 4 Forestport Tower, Forestport, New York, USA 1950 371.25 1,218 43°26′41.9″N 75°5′9.55″W Insulated against ground, demolished
1954 2 Griffin Television Tower Oklahoma (AKA KWTV Transmission Tower), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA 1954 480.5 1,576 35°32′58.59″N 97°29′50.27″W  
1956 3 KOBR-TV Tower, Caprock, New Mexico, USA 1956 490.7 1,610 33°22′31.31″N 103°46′14.3″W Collapsed in 1960; rebuilt
1959 1 WGME TV Tower, Raymond, Maine, USA 1959 495 1,624 43°55′28.43″N 70°29′26.72″W
1960 2 KFVS TV Mast, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri, USA 1960 511.1 1,677 37°25′44.5″N 89°30′13.84″W
1962 1 WTVM/WRBL-TV & WVRK-FM Tower, Cusseta, Georgia, USA 1962 533 1,749 32°19′25.09″N 84°46′45.07″W
1963 0 WIMZ-FM-Tower, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA 1963 534.01 1,752 36°08′05.49″N 83°43′28.01″W
1963 11 KVLY-TV mast, Blanchard, North Dakota, USA 1963 628.8 2,063 47°20′31.85″N 97°17′21.13″W
1974 17 Warsaw Radio Mast, Gąbin, Poland 1974 646.4 2,121 52°22′3.74″N 19°48′8.73″E Mast radiator insulated against ground, collapsed in 1991
1991 present KVLY-TV mast, Blanchard, North Dakota, USA 1963 628.8 2,063 47°20′31.85″N 97°17′21.13″W

Tallest towers

Towers include observation towers, monuments and other structures not generally considered to be "habitable buildings", they are meant for "regular access by humans, but not for living in or office work, and are self-supporting or freestanding, which means no guy-wires for support", meaning it excludes from this list of continuously habitable buildings and skyscrapers as well as radio and TV masts.

Bridge towers or pylons, chimneys, transmission towers, and most large statues allow human access for maintenance, but not as part of their normal operation, and are therefore not considered to be towers.

The Tokyo Skytree, completed in February 2012, is 634 m (2,080 ft), making it the tallest tower, and second-tallest freestanding structure in the world.[28][29][30]

History of tallest tower

The following is a list of structures that have historically held the title as the tallest towers in the world.

Tallest historical towers
From To Tower Town Pinnacle height
280 BC1180 ADPharos LighthouseAlexandria, Egypt122 m
11801240Malmesbury Abbey TowerMalmesbury, UK131.3 m
12401311Tower of Old St Paul's CathedralLondon, UK150 m
13111549Tower of Lincoln CathedralLincoln, UK159.7 m
15491647Tower of St Mary's churchStralsund, Germany151 m
16471874Tower of Strasbourg CathedralStrasbourg, France142 m
18741876Tower of St. NikolaiHamburg, Germany147 m
18761880Tower of Rouen CathedralRouen, France151 m
18801889Tower of Cologne CathedralCologne, Germany157.38 m
18891958Eiffel TowerParis, France312.3 m
19581967Tokyo TowerTokyo, Japan332.6 m
19671975Ostankino TowerMoscow, Russia540.1 m
19752010CN TowerToronto, Ontario, Canada553.33 m
20102011Canton TowerGuangzhou, China600 m
2011presentTokyo SkytreeTokyo, Japan634 m

Tallest structures, freestanding structures, and buildings

The list categories are:

  • The structures (supported) list uses pinnacle height and includes architectural structures of any type that might use some external support constructions like cables and are fully built in air. Only the three tallest are listed, as more than fifty US TV masts have stated heights of 600–610 metres (1,970–2,000 ft).
  • The structures (media supported) list uses pinnacle height and includes architectural structures of any type that are not totally built in the air but are using support from other, denser media like salt water. All structures greater than 500 metres (1,640 ft) are listed.
  • The freestanding structures list uses pinnacle height and includes structures over 500 metres (1,640 ft) that do not use guy-wires or other external supports. This means truly free standing on its own or, in similar sense, non-supported structures.
  • The building list uses architectural height (excluding antennas) and includes only buildings, defined as consisting of habitable floors. Both of these follow CTBUH guidelines. All supertall buildings (450 m and higher) are listed.


  • Eight buildings appear on the freestanding structures category list with heights different from another category. This is due to the different measurement specifications of those lists.
  • Only current heights and, where reasonable, target heights are listed. Historical heights of structures that no longer exist, for example, for having collapsed, are excluded.
Rank Name and location Year
Architectural top[31]
Architectural top
Structures (supported)
1 KVLY-TV mast, Blanchard, North Dakota, United States 1963 629 2,064
2 KXJB-TV mast, Galesburg, North Dakota, United States 1998 628 2,060
3 KXTV/KOVR Tower, Walnut Grove, California, United States 1986 625 2,051
Structures (media supported)
1 Petronius Platform, Gulf of Mexico 2000 610 2,000
2 Baldpate Platform, Gulf of Mexico 1998 580 1,900
3 Bullwinkle Platform, Gulf of Mexico 1989 529 1,736
Freestanding structures
1 Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2009 829.8 2,722 163
2 Tokyo Skytree, Tokyo, Japan 2012 634 2,080
3 Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China 2015 632 2,073 128
4 Abraj Al Bait, Makkah, Saudi Arabia 2011 601 1,972 120
5 Canton Tower, Guangzhou, China 2010 600 1,969
6 Ping An Finance Centre, Shenzhen, China 2016 599 1,965 115
7 Goldin Finance 117, Tianjin, China 2020 596.6 1,957 128
8 Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea 2016 555.7 1,823 123
9 CN Tower, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1976 553 1,814
10 One World Trade Center, New York City, USA 2013 546.2 1,792 104
11 Ostankino Tower, Moscow, Russia 1967 540 1,770
12 Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, Guangzhou, China 2016 530 1,739 111
12 Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, Tianjin, China 2018 530 1,739 98
14 China Zun, Beijing, China 2018 528 1,732 108
15 Willis Tower, Chicago, United States 1974 527 1,729 108
1 Burj Khalifa, Dubai, United Arab Emirates 2010 828 2,717 163
2 Shanghai Tower, Shanghai, China 2015 632 2,073 128
3 Abraj Al Bait, Mecca, Saudi Arabia 2011 601 1,972 120
4 Ping An Finance Centre, Shenzhen, China 2016 599 1,965 115
5 Goldin Finance 117, Tianjin, China 2020 596.6 1,957 128
6 Lotte World Tower, Seoul, South Korea 2016 554.5 1,819 123
7 One World Trade Center, New York City, USA 2013 541.3 1,776 104
8 Guangzhou CTF Finance Centre, Guangzhou, China 2016 530 1,739 111
9 Tianjin CTF Finance Centre, Tianjin, China 2018 530 1,739 98
10 China Zun, Beijing, China 2018 528 1,732 108
11 Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan 2004 509 1,670 101
12 Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai, China 2008 492 1,614 101
13 International Commerce Centre, Hong Kong 2010 484 1,588 118
14 Lakhta Center, Saint Petersburg, Russia 2018 462 1,516 86
15 Landmark 81, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 2018 461.2 1,513 81

Source: Emporis


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