The London Eye is one of the city’s most beloved (new) landmarks. It offers jaw-dropping views of the city, a welcome break from the city’s hustle below and an unrivaled photo-op. But there’s more than you think to this giant Ferris wheel on the Thames. First up…
1. Don’t call it a ferris wheel
The London Eye is a cantilevered observation wheel. This is a mouthful, but it’s important knowledge to impress your friends: Cantilevered means that the entire structure is anchored by an A-frame on one side only. Oh and it’s not just a cantilevered observation wheel, it’s the world’s tallest cantilevered observation wheel.
2. 75 (million) is a magic number
It took seven years and £75 million to build the London Eye. Construction started in 1998 and the main components of the attraction were built off site and shipped to the construction side where the wheel was assembled. The London Eye was formally opened on December 31, 1999. Due to some technical problems, the public had to wait until March 2000 to go for the first ride.
3. The good old times
At first the London Eye was known as the Millenium Wheel, but it was changed to the London Eye in 2011.
4. Capsule with a view
And speaking of royals: On a clear day, you can see about 40 km (25 miles) from the top of the London Eye – that is as far as Windsor Castle in the far outskirts of the city.
5. Where’s capsule number 13?
The capsules of the London Eye are numbered from 1 to 33, even though there are actually only 32 capsules. For superstitious reasons, number 13 is missing.
6. What do double decker buses have to do with it?
Each capsule represents one of the city’s boroughs, weighs 10 tons and can hold 25 people: That’s 800 people – or 11 red double decker buses – per revolution of the wheel.
7. And phone boxes?
The London Eye is the fourth tallest structure in London. It’s 135m high – as tall as 64 red telephone boxes on top of each other. The wheel’s circumference is 424m, which equals 201 phone boxes.
8. Rent a capsule
The capsules of the London Eye are not just for sightseeing – you can actually do all kinds of things in there: wine tasting, chocolate tasting or champagne tasting. If you don’t want to take things to entirely new heights, why not rent a Cupid’s Capsule and score major bonus points with your date? Seriously, they’re guaranteed to be impressed.
9. Light up the (Sk)Eye
The London Eye is lit up at night, but it can turn into its own light show as well – to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, it was lit with a Union Jack.
10. Biggest Fan
Rumor has it that Kate Moss has visited the London Eye a whopping 25 times – and apparently holds the current UK celebrity visitor record.
11. Slightly faster than a fast tortoise
The London Eye moves at 0.9 km (or 0.6 miles) per hour and it takes 30 minutes for one complete rotation. At this speed, the wheel advances 26 cm every second and doesn’t even have to stop for people to get on or off. (The wheel does pause for allow disabled and elderly people to enter and exit capsules safely.)