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Taipei , Taiwan skyline in the evening
Sydney skyline in the evening, the Opera on the left
Traditional skyline of Lübeck on a 100 euro gold coin

A skyline (English "horizon" or "silhouette") is the partial view or the panorama that depicts a city with its tallest buildings and structures in front of the horizon . Skylines have a recognition value for a city and shape its appearance.

In the past, the towers of the city ​​fortifications and in Europe church buildings or church towers , in the Islamic cultural area minarets shaped the city silhouette. Nowadays, skyscrapers and television towers are an important part of a skyline.


middle Ages

Gender towers have given the small town of San Gimignano in Tuscany the nickname “Manhattan of the Middle Ages”. Rival families tried to outdo each other in the height of their towers. That seemed to be more important to them than a luxurious life that was not possible in such towers. Even more impressive in the Middle Ages was the sight of the towers of Bologna .

In the European Middle Ages, however, the city silhouettes were mostly not shaped by commercial or residential buildings, but

From these silhouettes, copperplate engravings were often made by specialized entrepreneurs , which bring us the lost views of bygone times. Since an overview from one drawing position was not possible except for villages and towns in valley locations, such as Chur , pictures were drawn from two or three positions and then the silhouette was drawn in order to depict hidden towers and church naves or church towers on the copperplate unfolded.

Modern times

Chimneys and television towers

The skyline of Berlin is diverse, in the center the 368 meter high television tower

In modern times, large factory halls and, above all, factory chimneys began to shape the skyline of the rapidly growing industrial cities.

With the development of television, the television tower often became the tallest building in the city and dominated the skyline. For example, the CN Tower in Toronto and in Germany the Stuttgart TV tower are particularly characteristic of the skyline .

The Eiffel Tower in Paris occupies a special position , which was also the first radio tower , but was built primarily as a monument of progress for the 1889 World Exhibition in Paris on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and has shaped the city's skyline ever since.


The Former Skyline of Lower Manhattan (1991)
Kaohsiung , Taiwan Skyline (2020)

Chicago is considered the birthplace of skyscrapers, as the ten-story Home Insurance Building was the first steel-framed house to be built here in 1885. South Wacker Drive is the tallest building in Chicago, the Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower), which was also the tallest building in the world for a while.

The first cities to become famous for skyscraper skylines were New York and Chicago, with Chicago leading the way, but New York becoming by far the more famous skyscraper city and therefore attracting millions of tourists.

In addition to the lack of space and the resulting high land prices, such as the first on New York's Manhattan peninsula or the cities of Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore, the need to demonstrate productivity often plays a role in the construction of skyscrapers or districts with skyscrapers, for example in the Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan or the Pudong center of Shanghai .

In the list of cities with the most large buildings, Hong Kong has 7,659 registered skyscrapers, followed by New York City with 5571 and São Paulo with 4803. TV towers , stadiums , churches and mosques are not included in this count .

The ranking of Emporis , an information service company for the international real estate industry, is determined by the number of floors each building has. Emporis also awards the Emporis Skyscraper Award for architecture every year .

Technical equipment

Here and there it is technical systems such as winding towers in mining regions, blast furnaces , gas containers or cooling towers of power plants that help shape a skyline or, in individual cases, dominate it. At large chemical sites or in the vicinity of oil refineries , these often shape the skyline. High silos , for example for grain, can also shape the silhouette. Well-known examples of tall grain silos are the Henninger Tower in Frankfurt and the Schapfenmühle in Ulm .

"Mineral Oil Refinery Upper Rhine ( MiRO )" Karlsruhe

In port towns, large port cranes and storage buildings, and more recently container systems, can shape the silhouette.



Berlin has various high-rise buildings in the Mitte district that form a skyline. In the center is the 368 meter high television tower on Alexanderplatz and the 125 meter high Park Inn Hotel . The likewise 125-meter-high Treptowers , the 93-meter-high international trade center in Friedrichstrasse, the Red City Hall , the 74-meter-high Berlin Cathedral and the residential high- rise buildings on Alexanderplatz also contribute to a striking city silhouette.

As the city with the largest area in Germany, several high-rise centers are spread across the entire metropolis. Around Potsdamer Platz and along Leipziger Strasse there is a cluster of high-rise buildings. Another center is in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf . In the area around the Bahnhof Zoo in the area of ​​the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church there are several high-rise buildings that form an independent panorama. These include the 119-meter-high Upper West , the Zoofenster , and the Europacenter on Breitscheidplatz .

It is typical for Berlin that individual city districts also have typical skylines, such as Spandau (old town with Nikolaikirche and town hall ), Köpenick (old town) or Steglitz ( roundabout and beer brush ).


In recent years, a cluster of high-rise buildings up to 100 meters high has formed in Dortmund . Together with the medieval churches of St. Reinoldi and St. Peter are the office towers RWE Tower , IWO skyscraper and savings banks skyscraper skyline in the City . Outside the city, near Bundesstrasse 1 (around Westfalenhallen ), a cluster of tall office buildings has also formed; In 2010 the Westfalentower was built with a height of 86 meters. There are also residential areas 60 to 80 meters high in Dortmund, such as the Hannibal in the northern city center or the high-rise on Heiligegartenstrasse.

A 60-meter high-rise with restaurants and apartments is to be built at the Dortmund Stadthaus stop . The city has approved the plans.

The tallest structure at 206 meters is the Florian Tower , the tallest building is 91 meters (RWE Tower).

Bernardo Bellotto: The Elbe near Dresden


Dresden's silhouette does not necessarily shine with height, but with a centuries-old tradition. The famous " Canaletto view " describes the view of the city front from the north bank of the Elbe, the main features of which still exist today. The maintenance of this cityscape even went so far that buildings from GDR times were demolished again in order to recreate the historically established image.

In any case, the Dresden city silhouette with the Semperoper , palace and Catholic court church , Frauenkirche , “lemon press” (dome of the art academy ) and town hall tower in the background (from right to left) is still a popular motif today.

The Medienhafen and other parts of the Düsseldorf cityscape are characterized by high-rise buildings


Düsseldorf's silhouette is characterized by high-rise buildings in various parts of the city, especially in the center . One of the first German skyscrapers is the expressionist and 57 m high Wilhelm-Marx-Haus , which opened in 1924 . The tallest building in the city is the 125 m ARAG Tower, which opened in 2000 .


Essen is one of the few German cities with a compact high-rise group (also known as a high-rise cluster or pulk ). Most of the skyscrapers are concentrated in the Südviertel, south of the city center. The tallest buildings are the RWE tower with a height of 127 m (with a top 162 m) and the Essen town hall with 106 m.

Frankfurt am Main

The skyline of Frankfurt am Main has earned the city the nickname Mainhattan . Since the opening of the Westend Gate in 1976, the tallest building in Frankfurt has also been the tallest building in Germany. At 257 meters high, the exhibition tower was the tallest building in Europe until it was surpassed by the 259 m high Commerzbank Tower . In Frankfurt currently (as of July 2014) 30 high-rise buildings reach a minimum height of 100 meters, five of which reach 200 meters. Others are under construction or in advanced planning. In addition to the high-rise office buildings, the Frankfurt skyline is characterized by the 337.5 meter high Europaturm (television tower). A more recent development is the increased construction of residential high-rise buildings. Until its demolition in 2013, the 120 meter high Henninger Tower (grain silo) also shaped the skyline of Frankfurt. In order to regulate the high-rise buildings in terms of urban development planning, a high- rise framework plan was drawn up that stipulates where and how high-rise buildings may be built.


In Hamburg, apart from the television tower and the other main churches of St. Nikolai (147 m) and St. Petri (133 m), there is no taller building than the 132 meter high Michel town church . Hamburg's former First Mayor Ole von Beust also reacted understandingly to the Munich referendum:

“At least the referendum in Munich teaches that people take a large part in shaping their city. The people of Hamburg can also react sensitively to urban development projects. The familiar view of the harbor, the inner city ensemble with the Inner and Outer Alster and the silhouette of the church towers, which characterize the appearance of Hamburg most strongly, are particularly important to them. There is broad consensus in Hamburg that this view must remain undisguised. "


At 157 meters, Cologne Cathedral is the highest church in the city and was classified by UNESCO as one of the European masterpieces of Gothic architecture and declared a World Heritage Site in 1996.

On 5 July 2004 the cathedral was due to a "threat to the visual integrity of the cathedral and the unique Cologne skyline through the high-rise building plans on the opposite the cathedral side of the Rhine" by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee on the Red List of World Heritage in Danger set. Specifically, this meant the construction of a 103 meter high tower and the planning of three additional high-rise buildings up to 120 meters in the immediate vicinity of the cathedral.

During negotiations on July 13, 2005 at the UNESCO conference in Durban , South Africa , the final decision was postponed for one year. The German authorities should be given the opportunity to submit information on planned construction work in Cologne-Deutz by the end of 2005 .

In July 2006, at its 30th meeting in Vilnius , Lithuania , the World Heritage Committee decided to remove Cologne Cathedral from the list of World Heritage in danger. This took account of the changed construction plans for the bank on the right bank of the Rhine; Apart from the already completed Kölntriangle , no further high-rise buildings are to be built there.


Johannapark in Leipzig with the New Town Hall and the City Tower in the background

Leipzig is the only city in the new federal states with a high-rise skyline, albeit a rather weak one. The tallest building in the city and the only skyscraper is the 155 meter high city ​​skyscraper . The silhouette is complemented by three further high-rise buildings with a height of 107, 96 and 70 meters as well as the tower of the New Town Hall , which is in the style of historicism and , at 115 meters, the highest town hall tower in Germany. The 91-meter-high Völkerschlachtdenkmal , located away from the city center, is occasionally included in the Leipzig skyline, especially when it comes to the stylization of the silhouette.


In Munich for the protection of the old and highly valued by the Munich cityscape until the early 1980s, the rule was that no skyscraper could be higher than the 100-meter high Frauenkirche . The BMW high-rise also adhered to this rule. A cityscape compatibility study is still part of the approval process today.

When construction over 100 meters actually started, the citizens' initiative Unser München was formed to defend the old city skyline and launched a petition against massive high-rise construction. In particular, the Uptown Munich skyscraper was attacked as a negative example and referred to as a square nail. The citizens' initiative asserted that Munich was "one of the few big cities such as Florence , Rome or Budapest that still had a city skyline that had to be defended." Munich should not become any run-of-the-mill high-rise city, as there are thousands of times around the world . Munich must preserve its individuality. With these arguments, the initiative Our Munich was able to win 35,000 support signatures in 2004. In fact, the citizens' initiative prevailed with its referendum with 101,780 supporters with 50.8% yes-votes and 21.9% turnout. With the new old height limit, a whole series of high-rise projects failed. Although the renewed limitation of the construction height to 100 meters only applied for one year, no building has been built that exceeded this height since then.

Web links

Wiktionary: Skyline  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Skylines  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. The two tallest buildings - the twin towers of the World Trade Center - were destroyed in the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001 .
  2. Anika Hinz: High-rise at the town hall is coming! City council votes in favor of construction. In: RUHR24. November 16, 2018, accessed on October 14, 2019 (German).
  3. Between vertical and horizontal - Frankfurt's new skyline - Top Magazin . In: Top Magazin Frankfurt . July 13, 2017 ( [accessed October 17, 2018]).
  4. Survey on high-rise construction: Munich and Frankfurt are a few hundred meters apart , page 1 and box at the bottom left ( memento of the original from December 11, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , Article in Baublatt January / February 2005 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. UNESCO: The “Red List” of the World Heritage (as of July 2005) .
  6. Archived copy ( Memento of the original dated December 11, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. UNESCO: Cologne Cathedral removed from the Red List , press release of the German UNESCO Commission of July 11, 2006.