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.

the shard

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.

the shard art 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."

the shard art

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.

the shard art


"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.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

  • Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

    Art work that greets visitors as they arrive at The Shard

From Beginning To End - See all the pictures of The Shard

Loading Slideshow...
  • The View from The Shard

    Sunrise seen from The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • The View from The Shard

    Sunrise seen from The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • The View from The Shard

    The 'loo with a view' on the 68th floor of The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • The View from The Shard

    Sunrise seen from The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • The View from The Shard

    Sunrise seen from The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • The View from The Shard

    Sunrise seen from The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • PA Picture Review of the Year 2012

    Sunlight reflects off The Shard in central London as construction continues on the building.

  • The View from The Shard

    The 'loo with a view' on the 68th floor of The Shard in London as the The View from The Shard attraction is due to open to the public.

  • Winter weather December 12th

    General view of the Shard building as temperatures struggle to reach 2 degrees in the capital, London.

  • The Shard skyscraper is seen through early morning fog from a bridge over the river Thames just after sunrise in London, Wednesday, Dec.12, 2012. At London's Heathrow Airport about 150 flights have been canceled and delays are expected with more than 20 flights at London City Airport have been canceled as fog affects arrivals .(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • The Shard skyscraper is seen through early morning fog from a bridge over the river Thames just after sunrise in London, Wednesday, Dec.12, 2012. At London's Heathrow Airport about 150 flights have been canceled and delays are expected with more than 20 flights at London City Airport have been canceled as fog affects arrivals .(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

  • Construction of the Shard building, London, nears completion

    England, London, London Bridge Quarter, Construction of the Shard building, designed by Renzo Piano, nearing completion.

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • The Shard - London

    STANDALONE PHOTO. The moon rises behind the recently completed structure of the Shard building in London.

  • Shard used to lure Chinese visitors

    File photo dated 01/11/12 of The Shard in London, Britain's highest and newest tourist attraction which is being used this week to lure more Chinese visitors to the UK.

  • Shard used to lure Chinese visitors

    Embargoed to 0001 Monday November 19. File photo dated 01/11/12 of The Shard in London, BritainÕs highest and newest tourist attraction which is being used this week to lure more Chinese visitors to the UK.

  • The Shard

    Construction workers work at the top of the Shard building, in central London.

  • Shard used to lure Chinese visitors

    File photo dated 01/11/2012 of a general view of the Shard building, London, as Britain's highest and newest tourist attraction is being used this week to lure more Chinese visitors to the UK.

  • City Views - London

    Aerial view of central London, showing the Shard, Tower Bridge, the River Thames. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

  • City Views - London

    A general view of The Shard and the City of London

  • City Views - London

    A view of (right to left) the Houses of Parliament, The Shard and the London Eye from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London.

  • City Views - London

    General view of the Shard building, London

  • City Views - London

    A view of (right to left) the Houses of Parliament, The Shard and the London Eye from the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in central London.

  • City Views - London

    General view of the Shard building, London

  • City Views - London

    General view of the Shard building, London

  • Autumn weather October 23rd

    Window cleaners working on the Shard building shrouded in fog, in central London.

  • The View from the Shard attraction

    A view across London of Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf in the east, from the new visitor attraction 'The View from the Shard', due to open at the Shard, in south London from February 2013.

  • The View from the Shard attraction

    A visitor uses a digital telescope, as she looks out across London, from the new visitor attraction 'The View from the Shard', due to open at the Shard, in south London from February 2013.

  • The View from the Shard attraction

    A view looking east across London of the Tower Bridge, from the new visitor attraction 'The View from the Shard', due to open at the Shard, in south London from February 2013.

  • The View from the Shard attraction

    A visitor uses her camera phone as she looks out across London, from the new visitor attraction 'The View from the Shard', due to open at the Shard, in south London from February 2013.

  • General Views of London

    General view of the city of London and the Shard taken from Millbank tower.

  • General Views of London

    General view of the city of London and the Shard taken from Millbank tower.

  • General Views of London

    General view of the city of London and the Shard taken from Millbank tower.

  • General Views of London

    General view of the city of London and the Shard taken from Millbank tower.

  • Charity abseil down Shard

    The Duke of York (top of picture) as he abseils down from the top of the Shard in central London for charity. The 52-year-old royal is one of around 40 people to lower themselves down Europe's tallest building for educational charity The Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

  • Charity abseil down Shard

    Ffion Hague, the wife of Foreign Secretary William Hague abseils down the Shard in central London for charity. She is one of around 40 people to lower themselves down Europe's tallest building for educational charity The Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

  • Charity abseil down Shard

    The Duke of York abseils down the Shard in central London for charity. The 52-year-old royal is one of around 40 people to lower themselves down Europe's tallest building for educational charity The Outward Bound Trust and the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.

  • London city stock

    A general view of the London skyline from Canary Wharf, including The Shard and Tower Bridge.

  • London city stock

    A general view of the London skyline from Canary Wharf, including The Shard and Tower Bridge.

  • Sunset at Tower Bridge

    General view of Tower Bridge, carrying the Olympic Rings, and the Shard building (left) at dusk, in central London.

  • City Views - London

    Aerial view of central London, showing the Shard (foreground), and the City financial district, including the Swiss Re Tower, also known as the Gherkin (left). PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

  • City Views - London

    Aerial view of central London, showing the Shard (foreground), Tower Bridge, the River Thames, and Canary Wharf (background). PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

  • City Views - London

    Aerial view of the London skyline, showing the Shard (left) and the City financial district of London, including the Swiss Re Tower (right). PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 12, 2012. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • Shard opened

    A laser show projected from the Shard skyscraper on the South Bank, London, seen from Parliament Hill, marking the completion of the exterior of the building, with work on the inside expected to continue into 2013 and following the official inauguration of the skyscraper earlier today.

  • Shard opened

    A view of St Paul's Cathedral in London from the 69th floor of the Shard, during the official inauguration of the Shard in London.

  • Shard opened

    A view across London from the 69th floor of the Shard, during the official inauguration of the Shard in London.

  • Shard opened

    A view across London from the 69th floor of the Shard, during the official inauguration of the Shard in London.