London is the capital of England and of the United Kingdom. It has been a well known city for two millennia’s with the foundation by the Romans, then naming it Londonium. London is today a leading city with strengths in many domains, such as art, education (43 universities), fashion, media etc. More than 8 million live in the city and London has hosted the Summer Olympics three times, last in 2012. London has more than 14 million international visitors every year, this makes it the most visited city in Europe.
Buckingham Palace, the Queens official residence. You will see a flag on top of the palace every time the Queen is in the palace. The changing of the guards is a favored tourist spot, daily at 11 am. The building was constructed in 1705 bythe duke of Buckingham, John Sheffield, as a farmhouse. In 1826, King George IV expanded the building into a palace. Though he didn’t live to see it completed. Queen Victoria was the first to reside in the palace. In July 1837, three weeks after her accession to the throne, she moved from Kensington Palace, where she grew up, to the new Buckingham Palace. The monumental facade of the east wing was built in 1913 by Aston Webb. It is this facade, facing the Mall and St James’s Park, which is now known by most people. The palace has about 600 rooms. 19 State Rooms are open to the public in the summer months, among them are the Throne Room, Silk Tapestry Rooms, Picture Gallery, State Dining Room, Blue Drawing Room, Music Room and White Drawing Room are all part of the tour around the Buckingham Palace.
Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in the world. The Victorian Gothic style stems comes from a law that forced the designers to create a structure that would be in harmony with the nearby Tower of London. The bridge was completed in 1894. It is a movable bridge that can be opened to accommodate boat traffic. It used to open almost fifty times a day but nowadays it is only raised about 1,000 times a year. It is possible to enter the bridge and from here you will have a magnificent view of the city.
Tower of London was built at the beginning of the eleventh century by William the conqueror. The Tower’s most popular attraction is its famous collection of Crown Jewels. The fortress, strategically located at the Thames, was originally not more than a temporary wooden building. Over time the complex was expanded into a stronghold with about twenty towers. Several royal families have lived in the Tower of London, it was also a prison where the opponents of the kings were locked, tortured and killed. Among the famous prisons kept here were the two sons of king Edward IV. Today the Tower of London is most famous for the crown jewels which have been on display here since the seventeenth century. They are found in the Jewel House, and some of the most famous ones are First Star of Africa and Koh-I-Noor. The different towers all have different names, such as the White Tower, the Beauchamp Tower, the Bloody Tower, Bell Tower etc. The guardians of the Tower of London are the Yeoman Warders, they also give guided tours in the tower.
Trafalgar Square is the largest square in London and is often looked upon as the heart of the city. In the middle is the famous column with Admiral Nelson. Ever since the Middle Ages this has been a central meeting place. The name has changed a bit though, it was first known as Charing, then later as Charing Cross – still the nearby metro station wear this name. Today’s name commemorates the victory of Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson over the French fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar, outside the Spanish coast. There are many other statues around the square, such as; King Charles I, James Napier a military leader, King George IV etc.
Notting Hill is an area in London; it is today a fashionable area with high-end shopping and restaurants. And who does not remember the blue door from the Notting Hill movie starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts? The famous street Portobello Road with Portobello Road Market is well worth a visit. It is one of London’s most famous markets containing an antique section and second-hand, fruit and vegetables and clothing stalls. The road was originally a lane leading to Portobello Farm in the north of Notting Hill.
Camden Markets are a number of adjoining large retail markets in Camden Town. It all started in 1974 with a small weekly craft market, and has just expanded since then with more than 100 000 visitors every weekend. Today you’ll find anything from clothes, food and crafts here. The markets are divided into six sections; Camden Lock Market, Stables Market, Camden Lock Village, Buck Street Market, Electric Ballroom and Inverness Street Market.
Westminister Abbey is well known for its royal coronations dating all the way back to 1066, only with the exception of Edward V and Edward VIII. It is a famous and crowded burial ground, among others Charles Darwin and David Livingstone are buried here. The present building dates from 1245 to 1272, though it has been expanded since then.
Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the centre of London. It is famous for the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain built in 1893 to commemorate Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist known for his support of the poor.
Hyde Park opened for the public in 1637 by King Charles I and is the largest of several royal parks in London that are connected to each other. Hyde Park is 360 acres and hosts many events during the year. It was King Henry VIII who took the park from the monks in1536 and used it primarily for hunting. There are several sites in the park well worth some time. Such as Diana, Princess of Wales fountain, a modern fountain from 2004. The Serpentine is a large artificial lake. It was Queen Caroline, wife of King George II, who had the lake constructed in 1730. It is popular for boating and swimming. Speaker’s Corner was created in 1872 as a venue where people would be allowed to speak freely. Rotten Row was the first lit public road in England. The Rose Garden where you’ll find plenty of flowers. And so much more.
Kensington Garden is about 111 hectares. Its history started in 1689 when King William III and Mary II bought the Nottingham house in Kensington. Since then the garden has been constantly redesigned. Today’s garden can be attributed to Queen Caroline, wife of King George II. The most famous attraction is the Kensington Palace, home of Princess Diana and birthplace of Queen Victoria. It was built in 1605, it is still a royal palace, and today’s inhabitants are Prince William and Kate Middleton. Albert Memorial is a neo-Gothic monument built in 1876 in honor of Prince Albert. The statue of Peter Pan, it was in Kensington Gardens that JM Barrie first met Peter Pan.
Madame Tussauds Wax Museum first opened in 1835. Before the permanent exhibition Marie had come from France to England to tour with her collection of Death Masks, these were a great hit among the British and she never left the country. It opened first on Baker Street, and the most famous part of the exhibition was the Chamber of Horror. In 1884, long after Madame Tussauds death the exhibition moved to its current location on Marylebone Road. Today one can find branches of the museum in Amsterdam, New York, Hong Kong and other cities. So what is there to see: replicas of famous people. The museum shows that it is in Britain, but many international actor/actresses, world leaders, sports legends, writers, musicians, religious leaders etc are on display here.
St. Pauls Cathedral was built between 1675 and 1711; it is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. Several churches have been built on the site, the first one in 604 AD. Twice it was destroyed by fire, but rebuild and expanded every time. In 1669, after the great fire, the new Cathedral was planned, but it was not completed before 1711. 560 steps leads up to the dome, which reaches a height of 111 meters. Here there is a magnificent view over the city. There have been several important events at the church, such as the funeral of Admiral Nelson in 1806 and the funeral of Winston Churchill in 1965. Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer married here in 1981.
Big Ben, The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster is one of London’s most famous landmarks. The tower was constructed between 1843 and 1858, the clock tower rises 96m high. The clock was the largest in the world and is still the largest in Great-Britain. The clock faces have a diameter of almost 7.5m. The hour hand is 2.7m long and the minute hand measures 4.25m long. The clock is known for its reliability, it has rarely failed during its long life span. Even when bombs were falling nearby in World War II the clock kept on ticking. Unfortunately the tower is not publicly accessible.
Oxford Street is in the west end of London, it is the busiest shopping street in Europe. The street is home to several major department stores and hundreds of smaller shops. It is not the most expensive and exclusive shopping street in London but you’ll find many flagship stores located here. Among them Selfridges who have been here since 1909.
London Eye is a giant observation wheel located in the Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank. The 135 meter tall structure was built as part of London’s millennium celebrations. The futuristic looking capsules, accommodating up to twenty-five passengers, were transported all the way from France by train through the tunnel. Each egg-shaped capsule is eight meters long and weighs five hundred kilograms. The twenty-five meter long spindle was built in the Czech Republic. The rim has a diameter of 122m. The London Eye gives a perfect 360 degree view of London, on clear days one can see as far as 40 km.
- By air, there are 4 major airports where most visitors arrive from. The biggest is by far Heathrow International Airport. Stansted Airport, Gatwick Airport and London Southend Airport.
- By metro, the Tube. London has the oldest and second largest metro system in the world, dating back to 1863.
- By bus, the London bus network is one of the largest in the world, running 24 hours a day.