The World's Most Striking Skylines, Ranked

The World's Most Striking Skylines, Ranked

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What makes a beautiful cityscape? It is not necessarily a case of flashy towering skyscrapers constructed by the most name-dropped architects.

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    1 - Have you ever seen a picture of this skyline when the water and sky weren't completely blue? Except maybe the one above. Sure, Sydney has its rainy days, but the white of the landmark Sydney Opera House contrasts perfectly with the blue waters of Sydney Harbour and the impressive -- but not overdeveloped -- cadre of skyscrapers behind it. Plus, the long arc of the Sydney Harbour bridge makes Sydney, at least in our opinion, the most photogenic skyline in the world.
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    2 - Built on Victoria Harbour at the base of a mountain, this one-time British territory is one of the most densely-populated large cities on the planet (spanning only 50,000 acres) and claims the world's largest collection of buildings over 500ft. Topped by the 118-story International Commerce Center, views of this skyline are spectacular.
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    3 - The reason Tokyo can't build mega-towers like some other Asian cities is because it's extremely susceptible to earthquakes. Although that didn't stop them from building the 2,080ft Tokyo Skytree, a broadcasting tower that's listed as the second tallest building in the world. They've also constructed some of the most architecturally intriguing structures around, all set against the backdrop of Mt. Fuji.
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    4 - Don't be fooled: just because the skyline of China's largest city (by population) looks a lot like Tomorrowland -- with the LED-studded China Pearl building offsetting futuristic office towers and the 101-story Shanghai World Financial Center -- you won't be able to find a single screening of Captain EO. With 24 million people, though, you will find Space Mountain-esque lines everywhere.
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    5 - Not satisfied to just go out and buy a Porsche like everyone else, the architect of Kuala Lumpur's landmark Petronas Twin Towers set out to not only build the tallest twin structures in the world, but also to make them look like... rockets. By doing so, he immediately thrust the city's skyline into the world's elite, transforming a nondescript collection of buildings into one of the most recognizable views on the planet.
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    6 - Sure, they'll beat you with a cane if you try and "liven up" their downtown with a little of your own street art. But with a skyline like this -- complete with an illuminated Ferris wheel and the world's most expensive building (the $5.7 BILLION Marina Bay Sands) -- the city's aesthetics really don't need much help. 
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    7 - Between that 50 Shades movie and the NFL Playoffs, you're probably a little sick of looking at the Space Needle by now. But null is a lot more than that. It's a series of architecturally diverse buildings set on a hill next to Puget Sound, with Mount Rainier looming in the background. Vertical growth restrictions have kept this skyline's aesthetics intact, although looming Amazon construction may change things.
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    8 - Kinda like how Chicago manages to have some of the best looking people in America -- who still actually seem like genuine, friendly people -- so too has its skyline managed to maintain a humble aesthetic while remaining one of the world's most impressive. The 108-story Willis tower tops a pleasant tapestry of tall buildings that haven't gone overboard like New York or Miami, all set against the deep blue waters of Lake Michigan.
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    9 - In their seemingly never-ending quest to be the Texas of the Middle East, Dubai added the tallest building in the world as an exclamation point to a skyline that's exploded over the last decade. The 163-floor Burj Khalifa is half a mile tall and anchors the largest collection of taller-than-820ft buildings in the world.
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    10 - When it comes to your classic skyline setting -- sports dome, tower, skyscrapers -- nobody does it better than Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Built on the shores of Lake Ontario and home to the first retractable-roof stadium in North American pro sports (Rogers Centre, but really, the SkyDome), Toronto's skyline is also distinguished by the 1815ft CN Tower and the 72-story First Canadian Place.
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    11 - On the odd day when you can actually SEE the San Fran skyline poking up between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges, it can be the most impressive urban landscape in America. But those days are few and far between. And as the City by the Bay has grown in importance, so too has its number of nondescript, indistinguishable office towers. Still, the overall setting combined with the TransAmerica pyramid make this one of the world's best.
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    12 - Because everyone in LA drives 50 miles to work and the city is considered the American birthplace of suburban sprawl, it's oft-overlooked skyline is possibly the most underrated in the country. The San Gabriel Mountains -- on the days you can see them through the smog -- make a perfect backdrop to this tightly-clustered collection of interesting buildings anchored by the 1,018ft US Bank Tower.
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