Big Ben in London
Big Ben is a popular landmark in London. It is a tourist attraction located on the grounds of the Palace of Westminster. Originally Big Ben was called the Clock Tower, but after 2012 it became known as Elizabeth Tower. At the time of construction, the local bell was the heaviest in England, weighing 13.7 tons. There is a story that the building was named after the head of construction – Benjamin Hall.
310 € for the tour
36 € per person
47€ per person
36 € per person
310 € for the tour
121 € for the tour
What is Big Ben?
Big Ben is the most popular place in Britain, the calling card of London. It is located on the grounds of the Palace of Westminster. Big Ben is the most famous part of the palace. Almost every tourist considers it a duty to visit the landmark and learn as much information as possible from the story of the guide. Absolutely all information about Big Ben is interesting, it constantly surprises and fascinates listeners.
Interesting facts about Big Ben
Big Ben is a real symbol of London. Locals believe that tourists mostly come to see this particular landmark. Before you go here for a tour, it is recommended to get acquainted with the following information from the history:
- Big Ben is 96 meters tall. At the same time 61 of them are made of brick, the rest are made of cast iron.
- Today the tower stands unevenly. It deviates 22 centimeters to the northwest. The problem was caused by the construction of the subway.
- Big Ben stands on an area of 15 square meters. It is made of concrete columns and is located 4 meters below ground level.
- The tower clock stopped running on August 21, 2017 for 4 years. This is due to restoration work.
- Three times a week, specialists check the accuracy of the movement. Errors are corrected with coins. The information is recorded in a special log, which is stored in the palace.
- The unique chime of the clock is provided by the strike of a 200-kg hammer. Its description and scheme of construction you can find in the British Library.
- Until now, the landmark of the capital of England is the largest four-sided clock in the world.
- Since 1923, in England there is a tradition to celebrate the New Year by chimes of Big Ben. The BBC live broadcast is to blame.
History and description of the sight
Construction of Big Ben began on September 28, 1843. But on May 21, 1859 the clock was put into action for the first time. To this day they are considered one of the largest in the world. The creation of the dials is jewelry work. They are made of fragile opal glass, additionally framed with gilded frames. The clock bears an inscription in Latin that translates as “God Save Our Queen Victoria.” Big Ben has a global function – it is by this clock that the new year begins. Information about its beginning comes when the hand of the clock strikes for the first time on January 1.
It is noteworthy that local residents on New Year’s Eve hear 13 strikes of the bell. This is due to the fact that the sound propagates slower than radio waves. Be sure to check this story with your tour guide, he will retell the story of this landmark.
Not everyone can climb to the top of Big Ben. Security principles are highly regarded here. From time to time important guests of Great Britain or representatives of the London or international press are launched here. But even famous visitors have to get up and down on foot – there are no elevators or elevators. Sometimes various films and TV series are filmed here. It is Big Ben that allows you to recreate the spirit of the whole of London and learn about it intimate information.
The height of the landmark
The height of Big Ben is 96 meters. To get to the top, you must go 334 steps up a narrow spiral staircase. Be sure to read its description online. At the top is a small open area – the famous eponymous bell, which beats out the time. The sound of it is broadcast around the country through BBC radio. Dimensions of the bell are astonishing: 3 meters at the base and 2 – in height. The clock also amazes with its 7 meter diameter and 2.7 and 4.2 meter hands respectively.
Description of Big Ben Clock
Big Ben clocks first rang in the 19th century. To this day, they are the most accurate measure of time in the world. In creating the mechanism, this was the main problem – how to create the world’s most accurate clock. To find the first-class watchmaker, a competition was organized. It was necessary to create a movement that would be accurate to a fraction of a second. The story goes that the lawyer and astronomer George Airy suggested the following method: checking the readings of Big Ben with information from Greenwich Observatory.
Previously, the check was done every hour, but today it has been reduced to 2 times a day. Since its launch, the clock has never been stopped – not even during a mass bombing by German aircraft during World War II.
Construction of the tower was repeatedly delayed. The first time the opening was delayed for 7 years – due to overstated requirements for the accuracy of the clock. The second delay was due to insufficient space inside the tower, which made it impossible to place the dial of the planned design on the landmark. You can find a description of it in historical textbooks.
In April 1859, the clock was installed in the tower. The history says that it didn’t start working right away. Initially, cast-iron minute hands were made. They were too heavy, and the mechanism couldn’t move them. After that, the constructors made copper hands, which were lighter. This made it possible to start the mechanism. And since May 31st 1859 every Londoner could see the most exact information about the time.
The dial of the clock is cast-iron and its diameter is 7 meters. The construction is made of 312 separate pieces of opal glass. Processing allowed for an opaque structure. Under each dial is a signature in Latin. On a London sightseeing tour, you’ll hear the story of what it means. It is also advisable to listen to descriptions of individual parts of Parliament, because no tourist has ever been able to visit all 1200 rooms.
Every 5 years, a general cleaning is arranged for Big Ben. Professional climbers wash the London dial. On wires they carefully go down and treat the surface with a special detergent. Only professionals are allowed to do this work, as any excessive pressure on the clock can damage the relic.
Every year a coin is used to correct the time. If the clock is running ahead, one penny is added to the pendulum, if it is slowing down, it is removed. Each coin changes the stroke by 2.5 seconds. There is information that the biggest lag was in August 1949. That’s when a flock of starlings sat on the minute hand. A description of this story can be found in London reference books.
Tours of the landmark
It is impossible for foreign tourists to get into Big Ben itself. Entrance is open exclusively to British citizens. To arrange a visit, they must write a message to a Member of Parliament and wait for an invitation. But due to the fact that restoration work is currently underway, all tours of Big Ben are suspended.
However, it is still possible to learn about the history of the Elizabeth Tower. There are free morning talks every Thursday. It is given by the custodians of Big Ben. There is a one-hour presentation during which tourists are told about the work and history of the famous tower. After that you can ask any question you want.
You can also learn about the history of Big Ben on a guided tour of the Palace of Westminster every Saturday. The guided tour costs 28 GBP (2300 rubles) for adults and 12 GBP (970 rubles) for children. Tickets are 25.50 GBP (2060 rubles) and 11 GBP (890 rubles) lower if you book in advance.
Booking a ticket is very easy. You can do it any day at the ticket booth at the entrance, book it by phone or make an admission online on the official website. There you will find any information you are interested in, such as descriptions of the different parts of the palace.
Big Ben today
In 2017, the doors of Big Ben closed to the public for four years. Restoration work was started to preserve the Great Clock, the Great Bell and the Elizabeth Tower itself. The approximate amount of investment in the reconstruction is 61 million GBP (originally the government had planned to spend only 29). There is a description of the construction program on the parliament’s website.
Today they are installing a hoist here. Therefore, it is possible that after the reconstruction Big Ben will open its doors to foreign tourists. The Heritage team of Parliament oversees the London program. It is planned that the renovated Big Ben will reopen to visitors in 2021. Only after that there will be information, whether the price of tickets to visit the palace and get acquainted with its history or not.