Erected in 1967, the Ostankino Tower with its towering height of 1771 feet (540 m) is the highest freestanding structure in Russia and one of the top attractions in Moscow. It is, in fact, a television and radio tower in Moscow, a well-known symbol of Russian Broadcasting and is guarded like a government building. Designed by Nikolai Nikitin in the shape of an upside down lily, with a firm stem and four solid petals-supports, the tower was built to mark the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution.
Later, following the advice of the world-famous German civil engineer Fritz Leonhardt, the designer increased the number of supports to ten.
As the Soviet television broadcasting network had to be expanded and the old Shabolovka Tower was not equipped to handle the increasing broadcasting volumes, the decision to build the Ostankino Tower was made as early as in 1957. Finally, the construction of the new tower began in 1963 and when completed on 12 February 1967, it surpassed the Empire State Building in the United States. The simple and sturdy structure of the tower, made of pre-stressed concrete, held its record for eight years until 1975, when it was overtaken by the CN Tower in Ontario, Canada. Later, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai surpassed both the towers in 2007, with its colossal height of 2722 feet.
Although there was a plan to increase the height of the Ostankino Tower to 1841 feet (561 m) in 1994, by adding an antenna, it was not materialized due to lack of sufficient funding. However, it ruled the sky of Europe as the tallest structure in the continent for more than 50 years.
The trunk of the Ostankino Tower is equipped with running water, sewage and telephone lines and around three quarters of its interior space have been occupied with laboratories and halls. It has seven huge elevators and four expressways for the visitors willing to go up to the top. The observation deck with glass flooring is located at the height of 1105 feet (337 m), which offers a breathtaking 360 degree view of Moscow, along with its landmarks. The second observation deck, with no safety glass was opened at the 85th level for visitors to learn about the tower’s internal structure.
The three floors of the unique Seventh Heaven restaurant are located just below the observation deck. Its tables in the hallways are arranged on a circular platform with glass railings. To the delight of the visitors, the platform rotates slowly, making a complete revolution in an hour.
On 27 August 2000, a fire broke out at a height of about 322 feet (98 m) above the observation platform and the Seventh Heaven restaurant, after a short-circuit in wiring belonging to a paging company, when a firefighter and a lift operator died when their elevator cabin crashed to the ground level due to the fire.
On 21 July 2018, athletes from 12 countries took part in a race up the narrow and the spiral staircase of the tower to reach the Observation deck at an altitude of 1105 feet, when German Christian Riedl proved to be the fastest of the 28 athletes, who made it to the top in 9 minutes and 51 seconds. Among the women the winner was Cynthia Harris of the United States, who reached the top in 12 minutes and 15 seconds.