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Pearl of the Orient Tower,

Pearl of the Orient Tower is located in Shanghai's Pudong Park in the financial district of Lujiazui, on the edge of Pudong District, just across the Huangpu River from the Bund. The tower is located - on a north-south axis, roughly - in between Shanghai's two downtown Huangpu River bridges, the Yangpu to the northeast and the Nanpu to the southwest. Pearl of the Orient Tower,well known as Dongfang Mingzhuta,  is a 468-meter-high communication tower. Pearl of the Orient Tower is the second highest tower in Asia, and the fourth highest tower in the world. 


Construction on the tower was commenced in 1991. From its completion in 1994 until 2007, Pearl of the Orient Tower was also the tallest structure in China, period, but in 2007 the tower was surpassed by Shanghai's World Financial Center, the city's answer to New York City's former World Trade Center, which was the highest structure on the NYC skyline before its twin towers (albeit not "towers" in the sense of a communications tower) were destroyed in the 9/11 attacks.

The quarter-mile-high commercial interior of the tower houses a variety of activities, from a hotel near the top to a restaurant to a recreational palace - with a futuristic space center - to shops and cafés, and it even has a historical museum. On almost any level above the lowest globe, one can get a sensational view of the city as it stretches out toward the horizon, and, of course, the higher the vantage point, the more one can take in.

▲ The Peals : Pearl of the Orient Tower has a unique shape, with a number (11 to be exact) of bulbous spheres punctuating the tower's various sections as it ascends skyward, suggesting both an Islamic minaret and the typical bulbous dome of a mosque, here repeated over and over again in decreasingly smaller sizes as the tower rises skyward, its vertical sections correspondingly decreasing in diameter.

The Chinese architect, however, sees these "bulbs" as pearls, but even the architect cannot prevent onlookers from making their own associations regarding the tower's appearance, though all can agree that, seen in its totality, the tower is a thing of beauty, especially when lit up at night, and thus is truly a 'pearl of the Orient'.

The "bulbs", or "pearls", which in fact are steel spheres, or globes, are supposed to relate to a Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty poem, the Pipa Song, composed by Bai Juyi. The poem concerns the crisp, twinkling sound of the pipa (a four-stringed lute), or the sound of 'pearls, big and small, dropping on a plate'.

Bulbous or pearl-shaped when viewed from the outside, the steel globes nevertheless take on an entirely different aspect when viewed from the inside: they resemble something out of the Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, a couple of these globes have names suggesting space and space travel, namely the highest globe, at 350 meters, called the Space Module, and the lowest globe, called Space City, at 90 meters.

▲ The large plaza surrounding the tower's base makes it a popular place for tourists to throng, not unlike the way tourists throng about the base of Paris' Eiffel Tower. Also as with the Eiffel Tower, the base of the Pearl of the Orient Tower has become a favorite nighttime venue for lovers and other wistful souls "wishing you were here".

▲ The revolving restaurant: It is the Asian second-highestrestaurant, offering an unparalleled view of the city, which is especially beautiful at night. The three-legged tower rests on giant pillars that are buried beneath the surface, making the tripod base of Pearl of the Orient Tower exceptionally stable.

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