Petronas Towers

The tallest twin construction in the world


Kuala Lumpur City Centre, 50088 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

GPS: 3.1576770116225, 101.71159678882

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Dazzling by night and impressive by day, the Petronas Towers are twin 88-storey buildings built on a former horse racetrack in the Malaysian city of Kuala Lumpur. They opened in 1999 after six years of construction under the watchful eye of the Argentine-American architect Cesar Pelli, who has about 50 skyscrapers worldwide to his credit. The Petronas Towers, constructed with reinforced concrete and stainless steel, are among the world’s tallest buildings, with the Burj Khalifa in Dubai dominating at 828 meters high.

The Petronas Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur are 452 meters high and are ranked 19th and 20th in the world. They remained the tallest free-standing structures until 2004 with the completion of Taipei 101 in Taiwan. Unlike most other skyscrapers, the spires of the Petronas Towers do not serve as antennas but are a fundamental component of its architecture. They serve as a shape stabilizer in the event of an earthquake. In addition to the offices of Petronas, the national oil company of Malaysia, these two buildings have many facilities and activities: a shopping mall, a cinema, a concert hall, a conference room, an aquarium, a bookstore, restaurants, and a mosque. The modern architecture of the Petronas Towers incorporates artistic elements related to the culture of Islam in Malaysia.

Suspended at 170 meters above the ground, a 60-meter-long footbridge connects the two towers at the 41st and 42nd floors. It offers visitors a fantastic view of Kuala Lumpur, as does the observation deck, perched on the 86th floor. Renovated in 2011, the Petronas Towers are supported by a massive 120-meter-deep foundation (the deepest construction base in the world). As of 2019, these twin towers were supplanted locally by the Exchange 106 (Signature Tower), that officially became the tallest skyscraper in Malaysia and the tallest building in Southeast Asia (106 floors by 492 meters). Another even taller building, the Merdeka 118 (full name Menara Warisan Merdeka), is currently under construction in Kuala Lumpur and should be completed by the end of 2023. This new tower is likely to shake up the established order once again as it will reach a height of 635 meters (180 meters and 30 floors higher than the Petronas Towers) to become the second tallest skyscraper in the world.

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  • The modern architecture and the level of sophistication of the Petronas Twin Towers’ structures
  • The suspended walkway on the 41st and 42nd floors; the observation deck on the 86th floor overlooking the city of Kuala Lumpur
  • The luxury shopping mall with its 320 stores; the Galeri Petronas contemporary art gallery
  • The KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) green park at the foot of the towers and the water show at nightfall; the Aquaria KLCC aquarium installed at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (land and water animals)
  • The wildlife and floral sites established around the lakes of Lake Gardens (easily accessible by train, taxi or on foot from the Petronas Towers): the Kuala Lumpur Bird Park (one of the largest covered bird parks in the world), the Butterfly Park (a large butterfly park in a reconstructed tropical forest) and the Perdana Botanical Gardens (walking paths set in a green setting)
  • Attractions and sights within walking distance of the twin skyscrapers: Tugu Negara (a large memorial sculpture representing the National Monument); Muzium Negara (the National Museum dealing with historical and cultural heritage); the ASEAN Sculpture Garden (series of sculptures in wood, marble, iron, and bamboo); Masjid Negara Malaysia (the National Mosque of Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia); the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (Moorish-style colonial architecture); the National Planetarium of Malaysia (space science shows, films and exhibitions)
  • The Menara Kuala Lumpur (or KL Tower), its revolving restaurant (Atmosphere 360) and its panoramic observation tower at 276 meters high (beautiful view of the Malaysian capital and the Petronas Towers)
  • The panoramic Sky Bar at the Traders Hotel, located on the other side of the KLCC Park, and its superb view on the twin towers
  • The chic and lively Golden Triangle area with its hotels, bars, restaurants, concert halls, luxury stores and shopping malls (the latter are in the Bukit Bintang district); the traditional Malay houses and stilt houses of the old Kampung Baru enclave
  • As was the case with the Eiffel Tower (France) in its time, the Petronas Towers were not as successful as initially expected and there was much criticism of its bold architecture. But soon, their perfectly recognizable shape allowed them to become an iconic part of the city of Kuala Lumpur.
  • The architect of the Petronas Towers, Cesar Pelli, passed away in 2019 at the age of 92. Pelli is known for designing some of the tallest buildings in the world, most of which are adorned with glass. He also evolved the shape of skyscrapers in a post-modern style.
  • The Petronas Towers (Menara Berkembar Petronas in Malay) are still considered the tallest twin buildings in the world. They were the setting for the 1999 film “Entrapment” directed by Jon Amiel, with actors Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
  • More than half of the world’s 20 tallest skyscrapers are in China – 80% are in Asia, compared to 10% in the Middle East, 5% in Europe and 5% in North America.
  • With the completion of the Petronas Towers in 1998, Malaysia overtook the United States as home to the world’s tallest skyscraper (this title had been held by Chicago’s Willis Tower since 1973). However, a heated debate arose as to whether the decorative spires erected on the tops of the buildings should be included in the official measurement of the buildings. This question was decided by the non-governmental organization, the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which decided to base its calculations on the structural height of the buildings, excluding the spires from the official calculation. The debate that arose from this controversy nevertheless led to the creation of four distinct categories to distinguish between different human-made structures: built skyscrapers, skyscrapers under construction, free-standing structures, and observatories.
  • As the Petronas Towers are limited to 1,000 visitors per day, it is recommended that you go early in the morning. Book your ticket online. The towers are closed to visitors on Mondays.
  • In the evening, a sound and light show of water jets, with music, takes place at the foot of the buildings in the KLCC (Kuala Lumpur City Center) Park.

Where to eat

  • Jalan Alor
    (profusion of flavours)
  • Pinchos Tapas Bar
    (Spanish cuisine)
  • Skillet At 163
    (fusion cuisine)

Where to go

  • Museum of Islamic Arts of Malaysia
    (superb art collections)
  • Sri Mahamariamman Temple
    (extravagant decoration)
  • Bukit Tabur
    (sporty hike)

Where to stay

  • Orange Pekoe Guesthouse
    (excellent location)
  • Sfera Suites Kuala Lumpur City...
    (full service)
  • Mandarin Oriental, Kuala Lumpur
    (refined facilities)