They spark our wanderlust, they inspire citizens and, occasionally, they stand as monuments to human ingenuity. But oftentimes skyscrapers also proudly display humankind's hubris -- and remarkably bad taste.
Around the world, cities known for stunning skylines are also dotted with architectural atrocities that never should've been built.
Some experts have now gone so far as to question whether these structures ruin the tourism appeal of their cities. (It remains an open question.)
While there's always a bit of (necessary) capriciousness to lists like these, HuffPost Travel is hardly alone in condemning these particular elevated eyesores.
The Shard, London
This new addition to London has a terrifying name and the dangerously-angled glass facade of a shattered bit of glass.
Tour Montparnasse, Paris
The worst building in Paris, the Montparnasse Tower is even more pointless than the Eiffel Tower.
Oriental Pearl Tower, Shanghai
Some say it looks futuristic, but to us the bulbous Oriental Pearl Tower looks plain goofy.
Shanghai World Financial Center
One of the tallest buildings on the planet, the Shanghai World Financial Center resembles an oversized bottle opener--a tall, monochrome, drab, boring bottle opener.
CCTV Headquarters, Beijing
There's little positive to say for Rem Koolhaas' ode to state power in Beijing, a 44-story Mobius strip of awfulness.
Al-Mamlakah Tower, Riyadh
With a similar look as the Shanghai World Financial Center, this Saudi skyscraper makes our list for the same ugly bottle-opener look.
Just all of it. From postmodern architects gone wild to desert-chic residential towers that look more imposing than the disapproving gaze of a Middle Eastern despot, Dubai embodies the worst of contemporary skyscraper architecture, even as it remains home to the elegant and wistful Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building.
30 St Mary Axe aka The Gherkin, London
When a building is, at best, compared to a pickle, things are not going well. Lord Norman Foster designed the former Swiss Re Tower, which now goes in name only by its (admittedly intimidating) street address.
Ryugyong Hotel, Pyongyang
North Korea's brutalist architecture reaches its pinnacle in the Ryugyong Hotel, a 105-floor Cold War relic that's still not open for business despite decades of construction.
Umeda Sky Building, Osaka
Would that this Osaka, Japan skyscraper were as elegant as the Petronas Towers. Instead, the twinned towers reflect nothing of the culture of their lovely hometown nor of the ambition to supersede the sort of architectural postmodernism impossibly popularized by Michael Graves.
International Finance Centre, Hong Kong
Blessed with such amazing geography, one would think the port of Hong Kong could do more than muster the bland and unappealing International Finance Centre and its skyscraping Tower 2. That its rather suggestive shape inspires prurient nicknames is not an asset in its favor.
Shard Skyscraper Opens in London
The tallest building in western Europe has had its official inauguration.
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stopgeorge"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/48293-tiny.png?20101207114637" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stopgeorge">stopgeorge</a>:<br />Briefly, the world's tallest building. Taipei 101 was inspired by a betlenut tree (or something), it sadly resembles a post-modern corn-on-the-cob. The good thing for the citizens of Taipei is that it's built to withstand earthquakes and typhoons. The bad thing is that it is build to withstand earthquakes and typhoons.
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