Towers were invented primarily for defense, allowing short monarchs to loom over invading giants who retreated to the fetal position if anyone taller stood next to them. Take a turn defending the city with today’s Groupon: for $14, you get admission for two (up to a $28 value, depending on age) to the Calgary Tower. Officially opened on June 30, 1968, the Calgary Tower is one of Calgary’s most famous and identifiable physical landmarks, offering sweeping views of the miniaturized city. Visitors can defy Newton and his overrated law of universal gravitation by stepping out “into space” on the 525-foot-high glass floor of the observation deck and peering down on the microcosm below. The photogenic glass windows are paparazzi friendly with specially designed tinted double-plate glass for clear shots. During the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, the official flame burned atop the towering cylinder, making it both the world’s largest Olympic torch and biggest birthday candle.
In 1988, the top of the Calgary Tower was on fire. Nobody panicked, though, and no one tried to put out the flames. If they had, and succeeded, it would have been to the disappointment of athletes and spectators the world over, because that flame burned in honour of Canada’s first Winter Olympic Games. At 191 metres above the city, the light that fire produced—flickering from a gas-fired cauldron—served to unite the city around the games, to honour the spirit of sportsmanship, and to safeguard the event from Mothra attacks.
Today, visitors can see the city from just below where that torch burned. After a 63-second elevator ride to the top, guests can explore the observation deck, take a complimentary tour, and peer from high-powered binoculars at the Rocky Mountains, foothills, and prairies. Then they can step out onto the glass floor and stare down at the Olympic Plaza, the Glenbow Museum, and the bald spots on park monuments.
Yet the tower’s height isn’t its only draw. From the ground up, it strives to showcase the best of the city. At the base, the visitor information centre furnishes newcomers with city guides that point to popular attractions, and at 155 metres, the elegant Sky 360 restaurant fans romantic sparks as it completes its 360-degree rotation every hour.
101 9th Ave. SW
Calgary, Alberta T2P 1J9Get Directions