Heralded as Glasgow’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, the 127m-tall (416 ft) Glasgow Tower has dominated the city skyline for over two decades from the banks of the River Clyde.

Designed by Richard Horden in 1992, it was originally proposed as a landmark for Glasgow to be built in the city’s St Enoch Square before it was moved to accompany Glasgow Science Centre.

The £10 million tower - the tallest free-standing building in Scotland - is the only structure on earth capable of rotating 360 degrees into the prevailing wind and holds the Guinness World Record for the tallest fully rotating freestanding structure in the world. While capable of rotating, the tower cabin doesn't turn.

With visibility of up to 20 miles on clear days, the observation tower offers ‘unrivalled’ views of Glasgow and most famous landmarks, including the OVO Hydro, the Clyde Arc, Glasgow University and Ibrox Stadium, as well as the River Clyde and the landscape beyond.

Plagued by safety and engineering problems since Glasgow Science Centre opened in 2001, the tower has earned itself the (unwanted) title of the city’s 'most expensive white elephant', spending more than 80 per cent of its existence closed to the public.

In 2016, two leading architects concluded that the tower was “doomed to failure” because it was built “in the wrong place” on reclaimed ground in a filled-in dock which is open to the elements, rather than the original - enclosed - planned location in St Enoch Square.

Architect Peter Wilson went so far as to label the steel and glass tower, which occupies the same site where an earlier observation tower was built for the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988, as “a high-risk project and an accident waiting to happen”. 

In July last year, it was revealed that less than 170,000 people had taken the 2.5 minute journey to the Tower observation cabin 105 metres up since it opened.

Now, almost four years after it closed at the end of the season in 2019, the tower has once again reopened to the public - to little fanfare - for the 2023 summer season. 

A spokesperson for Glasgow Science Centre said: “Glasgow Tower closed at the end of the season in October 2019 and remained closed due to the pandemic. It reopened for the 2023 summer season on 26 May.”

Glasgow Times: The tower first opened back in 2001The tower first opened back in 2001

Despite being designed to move in the wind, Glasgow Science Centre said that “some visitors find the swaying sensation in windy weather unnerving”, meaning that the tower will be closed when the wind speed exceeds gusts of 25 mph at cabin height.

Commenting, VisitScotland Destination Development Director Caroline Warburton said the reopening of the tower is good news for visitors to Scotland’s biggest city. 

She said: “Glasgow Science Centre is a five star visitor attraction, already hugely popular with families for its extensive offer of interactive exhibits, planetarium and IMAX cinema, so visitors are in for an additional treat with the option to take a trip up the Glasgow Tower too. 

“This will be a welcome addition to the wealth of attractions and experiences available in Glasgow, and another reason to spend more time in the city this summer.”

Glasgow Labour MSP Paul Sweeney also welcomed the news that the tower has reopened, but suggested that it may attract few visitors given its location in Glasgow’s (neglected) riverside. 

He said: “While the Glasgow Tower has an obvious design flaw which is a major factor which has contributed to its lack of use, it is welcome to see it reopen. As the tallest landmark in the city, it is an important and iconic piece on the Glasgow skyline, and one that should be utilised more often.

“However, until such a time as there is a wider development plan for the riverside area, I suspect it will remain a rather obsolete asset. It is a part of the city with huge potential to be an attractive destination for residents and tourists alike, yet it is sterile in comparison to other comparable cities.

“That is why I have been engaging with stakeholders to see if we can pull together a masterplan for the riverside; one that would generate income and transform Glasgow’s riverside into a desirable destination for the future.”