A combination free-standing tower and guyed mast, the Gerbrandy Tower is the tallest broadcasting tower in the Netherlands. More impressive, though, is what the tower becomes during the holiday season. Every year around Christmas, workers turn this 366.8-meter-tall tower into the world’s tallest Christmas tree.
Visible from over 50 km away, the Christmas tree tower is made by stringing white lamps along the cables that support the tallest reaches of the structure. An expensive decorating procedure, it was thought that the world’s tallest Christmas tree could only be installed every five years, but sponsors have allowed this seasonal lighting to continue annually.
Built in 1961, the Gerbrandy Tower was the tallest man-made object anywhere in Europe at the time, measuring 382.5 meters. But 26 years later, in 1987, its height was reduced to 375 meters, a number that fell again in 2007, when it was modified to its current height; the new digital antenna didn’t require as much length as the old analog antenna it replaced. The lower section, standing 100 meters tall, is a concrete tower. The upper parts of the structure consists of a steel mast guyed to the ground. Towers of this construction are very rare; only a few dozen exist in the world, with most of them found in Hungary and Norway.
The Gerbrandy Tower is used for directional radio services and for FM and TV broadcasting. It is named after Peter Gerbrandy, prime minister of the Netherlands during World War II. Like the Netherlands throughout the war that Gerbrandy saw them through, the Gerbrandy Tower is quite resilient. In mid-2011, a small fire caused the transmitters to shut down, but the tower remained stable. A similar tower in Smilde, in the north of the Netherlands, caught fire only hours later and collapsed to the ground, but the Gerbrandy Tower didn’t falter.