Built in 1994, the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower juts out of China’s state-of-the-art financial center like a beacon from the future.
The bulbous tower is named for the eleven spheres that adorn its struts and trunk. The spheres (or pearls) were supposedly inspired by a Tang Dynasty poem that describes the melodic dripping sound of the pipa, a traditional Chinese musical instrument:
The fine strings hummed like lovers’ whispers.
Chattering and pattering, pattering and chattering,
As pearls, large and small, on a jade plate fall
Though its design may be based on a millennia-old poem, the Pearl Tower has no shortage of modern amenities. There is a rotating restaurant serving food at 875 feet and a “Space Hotel” conveniently located between the two largest spheres in the middle of the tower. One of the tower’s sightseeing decks has a transparent glass bottom offering a unique and dizzying view of Shanghai and there’s even an arcade game center. Real thrill-seekers can also ride the space-themed roller coaster 300 feet off the ground.
However if adventure, excitement, the future, heights, or adrenaline aren’t your thing, the tower also houses Shanghai’s Municipal History Museum on the ground floor.