The Gherkin

Attractions, Sightseeing Aldgate
4 out of 5 stars
(7user reviews)
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
Transport: Tube: Bank/Liverpool St
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4.4 / 5

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Such an iconic building and almost impossible to get in u less you know a co worker here or have reservations at the restaurant. Even then security is tight! We went last night and we were on a booked tour, despite this security wouldn't let us up. After waiting in the lobby for 15 mins, they finally found our name and we went up! But there's airport like security and your bags are put onto a belt. You go up in a lift, which is super fast, The views from the 38th floor are phenomenal, london as night is so pretty, the drinks are pricey but the views are great. Too Tip- befriend someone who works there, for easy access


Standing at 180m, you can’t miss the Gherkin. It’s one of London’s tallest contemporary skyscrapers in the centre of London’s financial district and easily distinguishable from its skyscraper siblings from its rather, er, suggestive shape.

It’s sadly opened closed to the public but it is open for a very short time during Open House London, an annual event held over the weekend, where buildings that are normally out of bounds are open to the public to snoop around.

Luckily, unlike some buildings e.g. BT Tower, The Gherkin is not balloted and anyone can queue to get inside. Ah, about that queue…

As you can imagine, getting inside the Gherkin is a red-hot attraction so expect to queue for a very long time. Take it from me, the 3-4 hour, even 5 hours,

If you really must visit the top of the Gherkin, do what I did and volunteer at the Gherkin to help with Open House. One of the biggest perks is being to go up the Gherkin without queueing :)

If volunteering doesn't sound appealing, then book a table at Searcy’s bar and restaurant close to the top. It’s open to everyone throughout the year. Yes, you might have to fork out a fair bit on the night, but I’d rather than spend 5 hours of my waking hours queueing for a chance to see inside.

A stunning exterior inside isn’t quite matched by its rather unspectacular interior. Nice views, but nothing out of the ordinary


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. 


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!

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

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.