The Gherkin

Attractions , Sightseeing Aldgate
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The Gherkin

St Mary Axe is an insignificant street named after a vanished church that is said to have contained an axe used by Attila the Hun to behead English virgins. It is now known for Lord Foster's 30 St Mary Axe, arguably London's finest contemporary building. The building is known as 'the Gherkin' (and, occasionally, more suggestive nicknames) for reasons that are obvious. On curved stone benches either side of 30 St Mary Axe are inscribed the 20 lines of Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay's 'Arcadian Dream Garden', a curious counterpart to Lord Foster's popular tower. The building is closed to the public apart from very occasionally during events such as Open House London when it is, understandably, a red-hot ticket.

 

For Open House London 2014, the Gherkin will be open on Saturday September 20 and Sunday September 21, 8am-3pm. Make sure you bring photo ID and be prepared for high security, including bag and body scans. There may also be long queues but there will be an organised system in place allowing groups of 30 people to be admitted every ten minutes for a maximum of twenty minutes. Visitors will have access to the foyer and the top of the domed building.

 

Venue name: The Gherkin
Address: 30 St Mary Axe
London
EC3A 8EP
Transport: Tube: Bank/Liverpool St
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Izzy K
Tastemaker

After 3 hours queuing in the freeze during the first day of this year's Open House, sadly I was turner away just about when I was suppose to enter the building. Getting 6 am the day after did the trick and I managed to get in the first round. Still, there wasn't much time to explore, but the glass dome and the way you can view the surroundings was great. Having the Sky Garden just round the corner I don't think it's really worth queuing for 3 hours, so if you have a chance, maybe it's easier to book a table at the restaurant. 

Ioanna La
Tastemaker

The Gherkin, or 30 St Mary Axe, made by the amazing architects Foster and Partners and structural engineers from Arup Group is a 41-storey iconic tower in the heart of the City of London, the financial center of London, and a magnificent skyscraper playing a major part in London's skyline. It's unique architecture and engineering make it a modern masterpiece. The Gherkin is one of my favourite buildings in London, even though it reminds me of something else rather than a gherkin, too. Despite its overall curved glass shape, there is only one piece of curved glass on the building—the lens-shaped cap at the very top. On the building's top level there is a bar for tenants and their guests featuring a 360° view of London. This is also accessible for everyone during one of the two days of Open House London weekend, usually every September. It was also open for two hours exclusively for Open House London volunteers, when I had the chance to visit this masterpiece structure from the inside and go to the top level along with other enthusiasts. I have visited plenty of places with great views of London (The Shard, The Walkie Talkie building to name a few) and this was to me the best view of London by far. I was thrilled and amazed by the 360 views. Now that a friend of mine is working for the reinsurance company that "owns" it, I am planning to go back soon for a lunchtime coffee or a Friday drink as it is closes very early around 4. Do visit it if you get the chance, otherwise just enjoy the view of it from many different points of London!

Maxibuoy

Been lucky enough to visit the bar in this awesome building. The 360 degree views from there are simply mindblowing!


Sarah F

Let us not forget that this amazing building is 10 years old this year and yet still the place so recognizable it is marked on every map and features in almost everything on TV & movies. It is iconic and precious to locals and tourists alike but the fact that it is closed to the public just adds to its mystical charm. There are many more sky scrapers in the city now, including the tallest in Europe (The Shard) yet this shiny little number is still the one that people come to see in all its splendor on a daily basis. Standing underneath and looking up the flawless reflective side of the building is quite simply breathtaking, a photographers dream. Fun fact: Believe it or not, there is only one actual curved piece of glass on the whole structure, which is at the very tip! If you ever get the honor of going to the bar at the top with its 360 degree view of London, or indeed inside at all then you can see the other magical qualities it possesses also including cut outs of floors, lots of artwork everywhere you look and the circular floor layouts.. Just marvelous.