Horizon 22: A Guide to London’s Highest Free View
The ink was barely dry on my blog post about 8 Bishopsgate when another free City of London viewing platform opened literally next door!
Horizon 22 can boast the highest free view over London so what can you see?
I’ve put together a little guide – kinda like a Bingo sheet – for the top things to spot from the 58th floor.
Horizon 22 can be found at 22 Bishopsgate. A speedy lift whizzes you up to the 58th floor and the viewing platform is split across a mezzanine level affording an (almost) 360° view.
Horizon 22 – Guide to the View
I’ve shared London sights and landmarks in a counter clockwise direction, starting north. Of course the view might change dependent on the weather conditions when you visiting and I must state I’m not a professional photographer so apologies for the variety in clarity.
I hope this serves as a useful little guide when you visit Horizon 22 (or any other London viewing platform!)
Right out of the lifts you can look straight down onto the northeastern portion of the City of London. The large green circle is Finsbury Circus, the oldest public park in London which opened to the masses in 1606.
Right in the foreground you can also see the top of Tower 42, previously the tallest building in the City when it opened in 1980 and was formerly the NatWest Tower, from above its walls form the interlocking chevron shapes of the bank’s logo.
Then if you stretch your eyes really north you can spot the huge Alexandra Palace. Known as Ally Pally, it opened in 1873 and today is an entertainment venue but has served a variety of functions including exhibition hall, ice rink and home of the BBC.
Across to the west you can see a cluster of cranes on the horizon and this signifies the new Google HQ at Kings Cross. Known as a ‘groundscraper’ it’s taller than the shard lying on its side and is scheduled to open in 2024.
Next door is the fairytale clock tower of St Pancras Station. Strictly speaking the station is under the arched trainshed (William Barlow, 1860s) and the redbrick building in front is the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, refurbished in 2011 but originally built in 1870s designed by George Gilbert Scott.
Scanning further west is the BT Tower, another London tallest building record-holder from 1964 until the NatWest tower, mentioned earlier, popped up. At the bottom left of the picture you can also see the green dome of the British Museum surrounded by the glass cushion Great Hall designed by Foster + Partners in 2000.
Then look straight back to the horizon and on a clear day you might see the white arch of Wembley Stadium.
A little closer to Horizon 22, St Paul’s Cathedral looks magnificent as ever. It was completed by Christopher Wren between 1685 and 1710. You’ll notice that London’s cathedral is surrounded by relatively low-rise buildings, restrictions known as St Paul’s Heights established in the 1930s meant that certain views of the dome were preserved in perpetuity.
Another – smaller – dome to look out for is the Old Bailey. London’s Central Criminal Court was built on the site of the notorious Newgate Prison (1188-1902) and opened in 1907. It’s topped with a golden statue of justice by Frederick William Pomeroy.
Heading west you can see Buckingham Palace nestled between the trees of Green Park and St James’s park.
Continuing west you can spot the gleaming private residential tower of One Blackfrairs with its bulging middle (opened 2018). Behind is the London Eye which opened in 2000 and was origianlly supposed to be temporary.
Next door is the Palace of Westminster. On the right is the Elizabeth Tower (more commonly called Big Ben but of course that’s the name of the bell) and on the left the other tower is the Victoria Tower (see a blog from my visit inside here).
The further west are the four gleaming chimneys of the refurbished Battersea Power Station which closed for business in the 1980s and reopened as a shopping centre, flats and new neighbourhood in 2022.
Sitting almost directly under Horizon 22 are two tiny monuments which have a lot of history.
First up the golden-topped Monument, designed by Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke which opened in the 1670s and commemorates the Great Fire of London. Secondly the church tower of St Magnus the Martyr (also by Christopher Wren) they are exactly in alignment because they once led the way onto the Medieval London Bridge, demolished in 1830s and rebuilt 100m upstream. You can see an epic model of the bridge inside St Magnus Church, read more here.
Across the River Thames is Southwark Cathedral, largely rebuilt in the 19th century but with a history going back to the 12th century when the was founded church in 1106. You can read about my visit and climb up the tower here.
Next door is the Shard, tallest building in London and with its own viewing platform (through not free!)
At its base it’s always fun to watch the snaking trains coming to and from London Bridge station and close by on the left you can see the arched entrance to Hays Galleria.
Originally Hay’s wharf, opened by Alexander Hay in the 1600s, Thomas Hay built a purpose built docks in the 19th century before it was destroyed by the Tooley Street Fire in 1861. Today it’s been refurbished with shops and restaurants but acts as a reminder of this industrial age.
Almost in front of Hays Galleria, moored along the Thames is HMS Belfast. The former light battle cruiser saw action in WWII and is now part of the Imperial War Museum and is open to visitors.
Another reminder of the Industrial 19th century is Tower Bridge.
It opened in 1894, having to serve the high-tech purpose of opening in the middle for ships, while also looking Medieval to blend in with its neighbour the Tower of London.
Follow the curve of the River and you see the swoop of the Isle of Dogs, site of London’s ‘Wall Street on Water’ aka Canary Wharf.
To the South of the cluster of skyscrapers is the UNESCO world heritage site of maritime Greenwich, built during the 17th century with the two domes of the Old Royal Naval College designed by Christopher Wren (again!)
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the view at Horizon 22, let me know what I missed and I’d love to hear what you hunt for when you’re looking down on London!
You can book a free ticket to visit yourself here. The closest station is Bank or Monument and there are toilets and a small cafe on site.
I’ve marked out everything featured in this blog post on the map below so you can orientate yourself, hope it’s helpful!
Latest Blog Posts
If you’ve walked along the Strand recently, there’s been a wonderful improvement. The surrounding area of St Mary Le Strand has been pedestrianised and this 300 year-old church can be fully appreciated. I was recently invited to have a look inside (and go behind-the-scenes!) of......
It’s one of the most captivating (and photographed) facades in Spitalfields, but what lies behind 4 Princelet Street? I got a chance to look inside this 18th century terraced house thanks to a free exhibition of Christo’s ‘Early Works’, hosted by the Gagosian Gallery. (It’s......
On the River Thames in Richmond sits an absolute jewel of an historic home, Ham House. I recently managed to visit (having had it on my very long to-do list for a while!) so here is the history and my personal highlights… History of Ham......
Open House Festival 2023 is 6-17 September and there are hundreds of London’s unusual and inspiring buildings to visit (some of which are only open to the public for Open House). As ever, there’s so much to choose from and sift through so I’ve done......