Without stating the obvious, Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers is the most photographed object in Malaysia. Soaring to a height of 451.9 metres, the 88-storey twin structure is Kuala Lumpur’s crown jewel.
Inspired by former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s vision for Malaysia to be a global economic hub, the project came to life in March 1993 under the watchful eye of master architect Cesar Pelli.
Construction of the superstructure started in April 1994 with the jacking of the spires of Tower 1 and Tower 2 completed in March 1996.
After some six years, 160,000 cubic metres of concrete, 83,500 square metres of steel cladding and 36,910 tonnes of steel used, on August 31, 1999, Dato Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia, officially opened the Towers.
Pelli, upon its completion, called the Twin Towers “a monument that is not specifically Malaysian, but will forever be identified with Kuala Lumpur”.
It is the world’s tallest twin towers and was the world’s tallest building from 1998 to 2004. It is now ranked 8th in the world.
The Towers are connected on the 42nd and 43rd floors by a double-decker sky bridge that stands 170 metres above street level, the highest two-storey bridge in the world.
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According to Dr. Mahathir, the building symbolises the courage, culture and advancement of the people of Malaysia, with the twin towers and sky bridge resembling the ‘M’ of Malaysia.
There are 32,000 windows, 29 double-decker high-speed passenger lifts, six heavy-duty service lifts and four executive lifts.
The executive lifts are the longest rise in any office building in Malaysia. It serves every floor from the basement car park to the top of the Towers in 90 seconds.
Apart from being an iconic tourist attraction, the tower is also a commercial hub, housing some of the world’s top companies such as Petronas, Al-Jazeera, Microsoft, Boeing and Bloomberg to name a few.
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The Petronas Twin Towers gained immediate exposure with its appearance in the 1999 Hollywood action flick Entrapment, starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The film follows the thieves as they engage in a game of cat-and-mouse taking in iconic locations in Scotland, England and Malaysia.
In one scene, the duo sail down a murky river on the banks of slums with the 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers seen in the background.
But the images of the river were filmed in Malacca, not Kuala Lumpur, and spliced with shots of the 1,482ft-high skyscrapers — displeasing then Prime Minister Mahathir and most Malaysians.
The iconic structure has also been scene to many daredevil attempts and stunts. On April 15 1999, Felix Baumgartner of the Red Bull Stratos project-fame, set the then Base jumping world record by jumping off a window cleaning crane on the Petronas Towers.
French urban climber Alain ‘Spiderman’ Robert has made many attempts to scale the Towers; stopped and arrested on his first two attempts on the 60th floor in 1997 and 2007, before succeeding on his third attempt on September 1, 2009.
If you wish to visit the Towers in a more conventional manner, entrance is free but has a daily tourist limit of 800 people. The Twin Towers remain closed on Mondays and during prayer times on Friday.
To experience the Petronas Twin Towers first-hand or for more information, click here: http://www.petronastwintowers.com.my/