This February, an extraordinary 12 months in London will be capped by the opening of The Shard, the UK's tallest building.
Visitors to the top of the 1,016ft triangle jutting above London Bridge station will be afforded unparalleled views of the historic streets and landmarks that hosted many of 2012's Olympic and Jubilee celebrations.
William and Kate feature in the art work as the Pearly King and Queen
But as any experienced traveler knows, there are usually two principle drawbacks to major tourist attractions: the price, and the boredom of queuing.
While the cost of climbing The Shard is an eye-watering (£24.95 for adults and £18.95 for children - though that hasn't stopped it already selling out for its opening day), the designers have came up with a novel way of keeping visitors entertained on their way in - a giant mural featuring 140 famous Londoners.
One part of The Shard mural
Those shuffling through security before they travel to the top can enjoy the sight of the Queen Mother feeding pigeons, Simon Cowell operating as a one-man-band, Kate Middleton as a pearly Queen and Richard Branson selling ice-cream - along with a host of other figures from the capital's history.
Kevin Murphy, the Development Director of the company responsible for the concept, explained: "We wanted to try and highlight places and faces from London in the spaces outside, in the queuing and security spaces and in the lifts on the way up. We also wanted to tell a little of the story of the Shard for visitors as they anticipate their journey."
Princess Diana and Amy Winehouse are seen diving into the River Thames
Just like Danny Boyle in his widely-acclaimed Olympics opening ceremony, Murphy's team decided to put a very British sense of humour at the forefront of how they introduced London to visitors from around the world.
"When we looked at faces of Londoners and people that have inspired or been part of London life, we felt that just a gallery of faces was not enough, so we imagined people from different times being put together in situations that would never have happened - funny, witty and entertaining," he says.
In addition to the visuals, some effort has gone into the audios of the wait, too.
"We felt that just images were not enough, so we had composed a special piece of music by David Mitchum which was recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra at Abbey Road," adds Murphy.
"The composition gives us slices of music we can use from the entrance right the way up to the crescendo of the viewing gallery."
When they finally do get to the top, visitors can take in a panoramic view of the city stretching 40 miles from a 72nd floor that is partly in the open, and look through special telescopes that improve visibility on foggy days and relay audible information about specific landmarks.
The Shared, like the mural in the entrance, is being billed as the 'ultimate introduction to London', the place where all visitors should begin their journey.
The View from the Shard chief executive Andy Nyberg said: "This is the only place you can see the whole of London at once and, as such, is a natural starting point for exploring the UK's capital."
The Shard opens on 1st February.
From Beginning To End - See all the pictures of The Shard
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