The View from the Shard: in pictures

As the viewing galleries at the top of the Shard prepare to welcome their first visitors, we've had a preview of SE1's newest - and highest - tourist attraction.

The View from the Shard: in pictures
The ticket office is reached up a flight of stairs from Joiner Street
The View from the Shard: in pictures
'Ironic' images - such as this sandcastle competition between Richard Rogers, Renzo Piano and Christopher Wren judged by Prince Charles - are designed to keep visitors amused while they queue for the lifts
The View from the Shard: in pictures
Half-way up the tower visitors must transfer from one lift to another and the floor is specially decorated.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
When visitors emerge from the lift on level 68 the views are obscured by this 'cloudscape' to deter people from dawdling to look at the view and blocking the lift lobby
The View from the Shard: in pictures
The main triple-height viewing deck has a curiously sterile feel.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
Looking across Borough Market and Bankside to the Square Mile and beyond
The View from the Shard: in pictures
The view to Borough High Street and the Elephant & Castle at sunrise on a misty winter morning.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
Looking north across London Bridge.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
Looking towards Bermondsey Street, Bermondsey Square and the warehouses of Mandela Way.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
From level 69 stairs lead up to the open-air viewing deck on level 72.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
Above level 72 is the Shard's spire.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
The Sky Boutique - the highest shop in London - sells cuddly fox toys in honour of Romeo, the fox found roaming the upper levels of the Shard during the construction of the tower.
The View from the Shard: in pictures
The Sky Boutique sells a range of books, mugs, posters and greetings cards.

Before The View from the Shard receives its first paying visitors on 1 February, thousands of Southwark residents and schoolchildren have received free tickets for previews in the coming weeks.
With work nearing completion, this week the SE1 website went for a tour of the attraction.

"When we designed the Shard, a viewing gallery was part of our thinking right from the start," said architect Renzo Piano.

"We wanted to create a public space where people could visit the building to experience London in a different way and also feel that they have discovered the spirit of the building.

"Level 72 is a wonderful example of this: in the open air on the highest habitable floor, you are surrounded by the shards of glass as well as the sights, sounds, elements and atmosphere of the city below. On top of the city, but also within it."

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