Which are the ten tallest skyscrapers in Europe? A few years ago, this list would have been very different: none of the skyscrapers ranked among the top ten tallest buildings in Europe were completed before 2010. But in recent years, the skylines of many European cities have changed and are still evolving. Let’s explore this topic further.
The rankings of the 10 tallest skyscrapers in Europe
Before embarking on these rankings, we need to point out two things: first of all, we should be aware that the tallest skyscrapers in Europe cannot compete with the tallest skyscrapers in the world, with buildings such as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (828 metres) or the Merdeka 118 in Kuala Lumpur (679 metres) remaining well out of reach. The second thing we should point out is that most of the tallest buildings in Europe have been built in the far east of the continent, that is in the European part of Russia. In fact, the two main cities in Russia – Moscow and Saint Petersburg– are European geographically, and in recent years they have seen their skylines revolutionized; so the top ten are dominated by Russian buildings, with just one Polish and one British skyscraper. Let’s take a look now at the ten tallest skyscrapers in Europe.
1- Lakhta Center, Saint Petersburg, 462 metres
The tallest skyscraper in Europe is in Saint Petersburg, soaring to the amazing height of 462 metres. For the sake of comparison, that is about half the height of the Burj Khalifa, but double the height of the tallest skyscraper in Italy, the UniCredit Tower in Milan. The Russian skyscraper is in the Lakhta quarter, in the north west of the city, and it is currently 16th in the world ranking of the tallest skyscrapers. The construction of this colossus started in October 2012, and the works were completed in January 2018 (beating the height record that had just been set in October 2017 by the Vostok Tower in Moscow, which we will see further on in these rankings). Designed by RMJM, the building was to become the new headquarters of the Gazprom energy company.
There are several interesting technical features about the Lakhta Center, apart from its height. For example, the building received LEED Platinum certification for its energy efficiency rating, and it beat the record for the largest continuous concrete pour, during construction of its foundations. It should also be pointed out that the facade of the tower is also the largest cold-bent glass facade in the world, consisting of cold-bent glass panels anchored to a curved aluminium frame, with a total surface area of 100,000 square metres.
2- Federation Tower: East Tower, Moscow, 373 metres
The Federation Tower complex in Moscow, is composed of two separate skyscrapers. The project was designed by Sergei Tchoban and Peter Schweger: construction began in 2004, and was completed in 2015. The East Tower, called the Vostok, is 373 metres tall, making it the second tallest in Russia and in Europe; the West Tower, the Zapad, is 243 metres high, putting it in 28th place in the European rankings. We should note that the Vostok Tower was originally intended to be taller, with a spire making it 509 metres, but the spire was later omitted from the project.
3- OKO: South Tower, Moscow, 354 metres
Remaining in Russia and in Moscow, we come to another complex of two towers, situated in the Moscow International Business Center (MIBC). The South tower is 354 metres tall, with 85 floors, while the North tower stops at 245 metres in height and 49 floors. Built between 2011 and 2015, the North tower was the tallest building in Europe until it was overtaken by the Federation Tower.
4- Neva Tower 2, Moscow, 345 metres
Still in Moscow, we find another two tower complex in the MIBC, with tower 1 at 302 metres high and tower 2 at 345 metres high, with 79 floors. The formal name of the complex is Renaissance Moscow Towers.
5- Mercury City Tower, Moscow, 338 metres
With its unmistakeable shape, this skyscraper soars to 338 metres: from 2012 to 2014, the Mercury City Tower was the tallest tower in Europe. It is striking for its distinctive copper colour and above all, for its distinctive shape that “steps back” twice along the north-western facade, creating a tapering effect.
6- Varso, Warsaw, 310 metres
The Varso tops the rankings of the ten tallest skyscrapers in Europe outside Russia, and is the tallest skyscraper in the European Union (overtaking the Commerzbank Tower in Frankfurt). The Varso skyscraper is part of a complex consisting of 3 main buildings, and it was completed in 2022.
7- The Shard, London, 309 metres
Designed by Renzo Piano, the Shard skyscraper in London was inaugurated in 2012, when it was acclaimed as the tallest tower in Europe. Its 72 mixed-use floors dominate the city skyline: to meet the requirements of light and transparency so prized by Piano, special Pilkington glass with low iron oxide content was used for the building’s facades.
8- Eurasia, Moscow, 309 metres
We return to Moscow again for the eighth tallest skyscraper in Europe. It was completed in 2013 and features a fascinating panoramic lift on the outside that enables visitors to enjoy panoramic views of the city. The building is 309 metres high and is also in the MIBC.
9- Neva Tower 1, Moscow, 302 metres
This is the other tower in the Neva Towers complex, which was mentioned in the fourth place in the rankings: it is 302 metres tall, 43 metres shorter than its sister building.
10- City of Capitals: Moscow, 301 metres
The City of Capitals complex in Moscow has two main towers named after the largest Russian cities, that is, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The first of these two towers is 301 metres tall, concluding these rankings of the 10 tallest skyscrapers in Europe.
The subsequent rankings, from 11th to 20th place, include other Russian skyscrapers, as well as three Turkish skyscrapers (the two Skyland Istanbul towers and the Istanbul Sapphire tower) and the London tower 22 Bishopsgate.