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17 sensational observation towers that aren't in Paris

By: Matt Hickman on Aug. 5, 2016, 10:39 a.m.
The Canton Tower in Guangzhou at night

Photo: Charley Guitars/flickr

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Canton Tower

While China's new breed of razzle-dazzle observation wheels have gotten most of the attention, a few observation towers of considerable height have also gone up over the past decade or so. Surmounting them all is Canton Tower, a Dutch-designed multipurpose tower that sports some serious curves as it twists its way high above the Pearl River metropolis of Guangzhou. Lit up at night by LEDs projecting a joyful, Rainbow Brite-approved glow, Canton Tower was, for a brief spell, the tallest tower in the world from 2009 to 2010, which is when the Tokyo Skytree arrived on the scene.

At 1,969 feet tall, the hyperboloid behemoth is now the third tallest tower in the world and the tallest in China. Not-quite-as-high contemporaries include Zhongyuan Tower in Zhengzhou (1,273 feet), Macau Tower (1,109 feet) and Harbin's spectacular steel lattice Dragon Tower (1,002 feet).

In addition to its tight waistline and the fact that it served as the backdrop for the 2010 Asia Games opening ceremony, Canton Tower — a functional TV tower, by the way, that just happens to have massive indoor and outdoor observation areas and two rotating restaurants — is best known for an attraction in which 16 tiny cars travel along an elliptical track situated around the ledge of the tower's top deck where you "can possibly feel the structure sway in the wind." Referred to as the "World's Highest Ferris Wheel," it's an attraction that many could live out the rest of their lives having not experienced.