Things to Do in London
When you arrive in London you are already in a different world, with its red double-deck buses and black taxis. London is a city of classics such as Big Ben, Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. But in addition to a cultural paradise, London is also a shopping paradise where there is something for every taste and budget. And in the evening you can enjoy a musical or theater performance. Here are a few things to do in London.
The Tower Bridge spans across the Thames and is located next to the Tower of London, which also owes its name. This bridge still opens to large vessels that sail through it. In the Tower Bridge it is possible to visit an exhibition or take a tour. From the Tower Bridge you also have a good view of another very special object in London, namely the City Hall (London City Hall). Due to its special design, it has the nickname “onion” (onion).
St. Paul’s Cathedral
The St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in 649, destroyed and rebuilt several times, but eventually went up in flames during the Great Fire of 1666. The current cathedral was designed by architect Christopher Wren. He was buried in 1710 as the first and inaugurated in the church. In the architectural style elements from the late Renaissance and the Baroque are combined. The cathedral is located at the highest point of the City of London (the historic city center) and is one of London’s busiest attractions.
If you want to return to the London from William Shakespeare, a visit to the Globe Theater is a must. The Globe Theater was built by the theater company of which Shakespeare himself was a member of in 1599. The ‘special effects’ during a performance of the famous piece ‘Henry VII’ caused the theater to burn out completely. The thatched roof caught fire after unloading a cannon shot in the play. Soon they rebuilt the Globe Theater and wisely replaced the thatched roof with a roof with pans. In 1644 the theater was cleared to make room for homes in the growing London. In 1997 the theater with thatched roof was rebuilt close to its original location. Besides the performances in the theater, there is now also a permanent exhibition about the life of William Shakespeare, his famous works and performances such as Shakespeare’s time.
Westminster and Big Ben
When you are in the Westminster district you will see Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster, also known as Houses of Parliament, with its famous Big Ben clock tower. In this palace next to the Thames, the British Parliament or the lower house (House of Commons) and the Upper House (House of Lords) sit. The oldest surviving buildings of the Westminster complex date back to 1097. However, the largest part dates from after the reconstruction in 1870. In 1265 the first meeting of the British Parliament took place here, and to this day this is still so. Perhaps even more famous than the Palace of Westminster itself is its 96-meter-high clock tower (Clock Tower), which is better known by the name ‘Big Ben’. Big Ben is the name of the big bell and not the tower itself.
Trafalgar Square (1840) is undoubtedly the most famous square in London. Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square are also architectural gems, but Trafalgar Square has just that little bit more. The square is named after the sea battle at Trafalgar in 1805. In this sea battle, Admiral Nelson was killed, in honor of whom a pillar (Nelson’s Column) was erected in the center of the square. Although the column itself is 54 meters high, the statue of Admiral Nelson only measures 5.5 meters. General Nelson is buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
Tower of London
In 1078, William the Conqueror – better known as King William I – commissioned the construction of the White Tower. The White Tower (in short: Tower) is located on the River Thames and has served over the centuries as a state prison, fort, royal palace, museum, garrison and arsenal. Nowadays the Tower is an important tourist attraction. Not only are the crown jewels preserved there, you can also find an extensive collection of armor and weaponry.
The British Museum, the national museum of the United Kingdom, is free of entry. The museum is huge and spread over 3 floors, so you best buy a plan at the desk and select which parts you would like to see. The museum has a collection of seven million objects, one of the largest collections in the world. The objects come from almost all civilizations in the world, both old and new. Highlights include the Rosetta stone (the key to the deciphering of the Egyptian hieroglyphs), a statue of Easter Island, the oldest image of Christ and countless mummies.
Take a look at London from a different perspective. From the air for example! The London Eye takes you to an altitude of 135 meters above the London skyline. The total journey takes about 30 minutes, in which you can see 55 famous buildings and landmarks. If the weather is clear you can even see Windsor Castle! The London Eye is right opposite the Palace of Westminster.
The Millennium Bridge in London is a steel pedestrian bridge over the Thames, linking Bankside on the left bank with the city. The bridge was the first new bridge over the Thames in 1998, after the Tower Bridge from 1894. Many tourists use the bridge to go to the Globe Theater, the Tate Modern or other places of interest.
Buckingham Palace is a classic among the London landmarks. It is the official residence of the Queen and is best known for the ceremony of the changing of the guard, which takes place at 11.30 am (in the months April to July). This ritual lasts about half an hour and can be viewed from the square in front of the palace. The ritual does not take place every day, so you should inform yourself in advance.
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