Spinnaker Tower – Portsmouth, England - Atlas Obscura
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Portsmouth, England

Spinnaker Tower

This striking observation tower shaped like a spinnaker sail is the newest icon in historic Portsmouth. 

As you approach the Portsmouth ferry terminal from the English Channel, one of the first things to meet your eye is not an ancient naval structure or historic warship, as one might assume, but a very modern observation tower.

The impressive Spinnaker Tower overlooks the recently redeveloped harbor in the historic town of Portsmouth. Its shape, chosen by local residents from a selection of designs, reflects the city’s maritime history. It’s made to look like a spinnaker sail billowing in the wind, from which it gets its name.

Rising 560 feet high, it’s one of the tallest accessible structures in the United Kingdom outside the capital. And indeed, the triple observation deck at the top provides a spectacular panoramic view of the city and harbor below, stretching far out to the horizon. On a clear day, it’s possible to see out 23 miles into the distance. 

The design of the tower is somewhat similar to the (much taller) Burj Al Arab in Dubai. The structure is owned by the Portsmouth City Council, however after a commercial sponsorship deal with the Dubai-based Emirates airline, the tower’s name was officially changed to the Emirates Spinnaker Tower.