London is the biggest city in Europe and the ninth largest city in the world, occupying over 620 square miles. It was founded shortly after the Roman invasion in 43 AD and has been a bustling center of commerce and industry since its inception. London is located on the Thames river in the southern part of England.
London has many historic landmarks that are of prime interest to the world traveler. The most prominent on the list and the one that garners visitors from all over the globe is the Tower of London. This fortress has stood almost a thousand years and has been used as the royal palace, a prison and a site for execution of enemies of the crown.
Second to the Tower of London is Westminster Abbey. Westminster Abbey is where the two houses of parliament reside and where English laws are discussed and passed. In the middle of November, the Queen rides her coach to begin the new session of Parliament.
Housed inside Westminster Abbey is the most recognizable tourist attraction of London, Big Ben. The tower’s actual name is St. Stephen’s Tower and the moniker Big Ben refers to the huge thirteen ton bell that is rung every hour on the hour.
An essential landmark to visit while in London has to be Buckinham Palace. This six hundred plus room palace is home to the Royal family and is one of the UK’s top travel destinations. Here you can see the changing of the guard.
The Royal Guards not only serve to uphold and honor the traditions of their office but they also serve various military functions throughout the UK and even abroad.
A favorite among many visitors to London is St. Mary’s Cathedral. This impressive church was originally built in 604 AD. It only stood for seventy-one years before it burned down in 675. It was then promptly rebuilt but was once again burned down in the infamous Great Fire Of London in 1666 AD. The most magnificent feature of this Cathedral is it’s huge dome. It is the second biggest dome in the entire world. Underneath the dome is a room that is aptly called the Whispering Gallery. Any conversation, no matter how slight, can be heard through the wall the separates the gallery.
Another prominent domed structure in the city of London is the O2 or Millenium Dome. The Millenium Dome is a massive structure that covers over one hundred and eighty acres and is over nine hundred and sixty feet in diameter. It also stands over one hundred and fifty feet high with towers that extend to over three hundred feet. The Millenium Dome is so large that the entire Eiffel Tower could be placed in the structure, if it was turned on it’s side!
If beautiful modern architecture is what your looking for, then London also has that covered. On April 27, 2004, 30 St. Mary’s Axe was opened to the public. This ornate and unusual structure is unofficial known as “The Gerkin” because of it’s pickle like shape. The outside of the building has glass panes arranged in diamond shapes. The amount of glass incorporated into this building consist of over seventy-two thousand feet of glass.
A site that is not to be missed during your visit to London is Trafalgar Square. Trafalgar Square is a Victorian age building that was erected to commemorate the victory at the Battle of Trafalgar by Admiral Lord Nelson. Trafalgar Square is bounded on the north side by the National Gallery and the east side by St. Martin’s In The Field Church. Dominating Trafalgar Square is Nelson’s Column. This huge column stands over one hundred and seventy feet and features a huge stone statue of Admiral Nelson at the top.
While in London, visitors might want to take a break from the city landscape and take a walk through Hyde Park. This breathtakingly beautiful park spans over three hundred and sixty acres and is one of London’s most famous parks.
Besides the historic landmarks, London is also home to several thriving shopping districts. These include the busy shopping districts of Oxford Street and Regents Street which are host to a variety of department stores, music stores, clothes retailers and bookstores. Another popular shopping district is Covenant Gardens. This district is home to a ton of pubs, cafes and street performers.
No trip to London would be complete without a visit to their world class museums. These include the British Museum and the Tate Museum. A notable mention also has to be made of Madame Tussauds. This is the famous wax museum containing extremely lifelike images of celebrities, royalty and even criminals.
Of course, London also has some of the most magnificent architecture in the world. This can be witnessed by checking out some of the bridges located in this city. These include the world famous London Bridge which links London with Southwark, The Tower Bridge and Westminster Bridge which handles vehicle and foot traffic between Westminster and Lambeth.
To get a great birds eye view of the entire city of London, try taking a ride on the London Eye. This is the world’s largest Ferris wheel and stands at almost five hundred feet at its top. It gives a very unique perspective on the city. In fact, many of London’s historic landmarks can be viewed from the very top. It’s an experience that everyone should have at least once in their lifetime.
For a truly luxurious experience opt to stay at one of London’s beautiful hotels. There are many to choose from for every type of budget. A truly top notch hotel is the Blakes Hotel. This beautiful hotel is more like a townhouse but is perfect for the weary traveler. While it might be a little too ornate for some taste, it does manage to blend several styles together in a brilliant fashion. With large marble bathrooms and rooms adorned with swagged curtains, this is one hotel that must be seen to be truly appreciated.