Rare chance to glimpse amazing hidden architecture

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London's Open House Weekend throws open doors to 800 properties

Among them are landmark skyscrapers such as the "Gherkin" tower

Open House weekends are now held in 20 cities around the globe

CNN  — 

If there’s one thing better than snooping around a stranger’s home, it’s snooping around a stranger’s home without being arrested.

This weekend in London, there’s a rare chance to do just this with more than 800 normally-closed landmarks, including architecturally interesting family houses, throwing wide their doors to the public.

It’s all part of Open House London, an annual event now in its 22nd year that lets thousands of people wander around and gawp at some of the city’s most impressive buildings – as well as some lesser known gems.

Often there’s also a chance to meet and chat to the architect – and it’s all free.

The weekends have proved so successful, they’ve been adopted by 24 cities around the world, including Melbourne, Buenos Aires and Oslo.

Open House Worldwide scatters its events across the calendar, potentially allowing globetrotting architecture addicts to hit several in the space of a few weeks.

Following London’s September 20-21 showcase, October sees New York follow suit, alongside other destinations such as Lisbon, Dublin, Chicago, Barcelona and Thessaloniki in Greece.

This year’s big draws in London are expected to be some of its tallest skyscrapers – among them the gherkin-shaped 30 St. Mary Axe and another giant known as the Cheesegrater.

Churches, cinemas, theaters, colleges, government buildings and subterranean top secret wartime bunkers are also included.

There are also numerous homes, including one of the country’s most recognizable – the Prime Minister’s residence at 10 Downing Street.

Definitely worth a snoop.

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