London sights: top 10 places of interest of the UK capital
London is a modern and booming metropolis with all its pluses and minuses, where the traditional attractions of London in English with a translation neighbors with entire Pakistani and Chinese quarters. Globalization has had a clear impact on the capital of Foggy Albion, but it has not changed its appearance, and most importantly, it has not broken its spirit. The spirit of imperial grandeur and true aristocracy.
To see all the sights of London, not a day, week or even month is not enough, because they are literally at every step, in every building. Therefore, even before visiting the British capital, it is advisable to make a list of places you would definitely like to visit, not forgetting to include architectural landmarks (the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace), nature (Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens), and museums (Madame Tussauds, the British Museum), many of which are free to visit.
The Eye of London is one of Europe’s largest Ferris wheel. It is 135 meters high and has 32 capsule carriages, each with a capacity of 25 passengers. The number 32 was not chosen by chance – that is how many suburbs the British capital has. Interestingly, the 13th stall does not exist because of superstitiousness of the creators.
The opening of the attraction was timed to coincide with the beginning of the new millennium and took place on the last day of 1999. Originally it was planned that the London Eye would be a temporary structure, which would be dismantled in 2005. However, this ferris wheel, from which you can see almost the entire city, quickly gained popularity among locals and tourists, entering the top attractions of London. So it was decided to keep it.
Located opposite the Houses of Parliament on the south bank of the River Thames. The attraction works all year round, except for December 25. Tickets range from 17 to 38 euros.
“We were on a tour here with my family – we loved it. Thanks to the transparent capsule we were able to see everything around. In addition to visual experience and indescribable delight, got a lot of interesting information during the 30-minute tour.
Trafalgar Square is the heart of London’s capital and the busiest square in the city. It’s where three of Westminster’s main streets converge: the Mae, the Strand and Whitehall.
Since the thirteenth century, the premises in which royal hawks were kept have been here; later royal stables were built. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the square was redesigned and the National Gallery was built. The centerpiece of the architecture is the 56-meter Nelson column, erected in honor of the famous admiral and topped with his monument. There are also four different sculptures in the corners of the square.
Trafalgar Square was originally named after William the Fourth and honored England’s 1805 victory over the Franco-Spanish fleet in the landmark Battle of Trafalgar.
“It’s quite a small square if you compare it to Red Square in Moscow, for example. However, it is an incredibly beautiful place with many sculptures and fountains, with its own unique atmosphere. It is definitely worth a visit.
Madame Tussaud’s London
The largest and most famous museum of wax sculptures founded in 1835 by a Frenchwoman Marie Tussauds who moved to London at the beginning of the nineteenth century. There are more than a thousand wax models of all kinds of people, from maniacs and serial killers to royalty and showbiz stars.
It’s one of London’s most popular attractions, and not a single tourist who comes to the city passes it by. During its existence the museum has been visited by more than 500 million people.
The museum is located on Marylebone Road, near the Baker Street subway station. Visitors are welcome every day. Tickets start at £15.
“It’s not really possible to get in during the day as you have to queue for hours. Postponing a trip to the museum until the evening, I did not miss it, as I waited only about five minutes. However, even before closing there are a lot of people, and to take a picture of some exhibit, you must again patiently wait until people disperse. I really liked the museum itself – the sculptures are really well done and look incredibly realistic.
Tower of London
One of the main symbols and attractions not only of London but of the whole Britain. During its existence (since 1066) it has been used as a defensive fortress, prison, mint, royal treasury, armory, observatory and zoo.
Up to now the Tower of London has managed to keep almost in pristine condition, and its main buildings are a museum with an armory, where the famous treasures of the British Empire are located. In addition to ancient structures and artifacts, tourists are attracted to this landmark of London by its inhabitants – crows, who stayed here after the transfer of the zoo to Regent’s Park in 1831. There is a legend that the foundations of Britain will remain unshaken as long as crows remain in the Tower. The castle is guarded by 37 yeomen – the royal guards.
The fortress is located in the historic center of London, on the north bank of the Thames. Tickets cost 10-25 pounds sterling.
“We bought tickets to the Tower in advance via the Internet – it’s cheaper and there is no need to stand in queues. The most striking experience of the tour – is, of course, a visit to the treasury, especially for girls. Crowns, rings and other symbols of power of monarchs – an amazing combination of beauty and grandeur! There’s a souvenir shop on the way out of the treasury, as well as a store for children where you can buy interesting memorabilia.
The building was built in 1703 for the Duke of Buckingham, and 59 years later King George the Third bought it and began to use it as a private residence. Status of an official residence of monarchs the palace received only in 1837, when Queen Victoria, whose monument now stands in front of the palace entrance, was crowned. During the reign of Victoria, Buckingham Palace was put in order and acquired the familiar look we all know today. Also under her reign, there were many traditions, which continue to be observed today. One of them is the obligatory raising of the royal standard when the monarch is in residence. But visitors from all over the world are attracted here in the first place by another ritual – the ceremonial changing of the guard, which takes place every day for half an hour before noon in the summer period.
The palace itself, located across from Pall Mall Street and Green Park, is only accessible during August and September, when the monarchs are resting. Tickets cost between £12 and £37.
“The scale and luxury of this palace is astounding. Just think about it: 775 rooms! And all of them are decorated with the rarest materials, paintings, tapestries and sculptures. The changing of the guard is a fascinating spectacle, but the crowds of tourists, who have to fight to see the action, spoil the impression a little.
The British Museum
The main British museum of historic and architectural orientation, second in number of visitors in the world only to the Louvre. It was founded by George II in 1753 on the will of naturalist and physician Hans Sloane, who during his life collected over 71,000 various exhibits. Today the collection of the British Museum includes more than 13 million objects brought from all continents and representing human history from Paleolithic times to the present.
The museum is located in the area of Bloomsbury, Great Rassel Street. Admission for visitors is free.
“A large, beautiful and conveniently located building. But most of the exhibits are all sorts of plates and vases and jugs – a kind of museum for girls. I was only really interested in the Egyptian halls with the mummies and sarcophagi.
Landmark of London without which it is impossible to imagine a visit to the British capital. The bascule bridge over the Thames was built in 1894 to the east of London Bridge due to the increased volume of traffic. It is a 244-meter-long stone-clad metal structure with two Gothic-style piers and towers. The designers had envisaged the possibility of crossing the bridge by pedestrians through special galleries between the towers, located at a height of 44 meters, but now they serve as a museum and a viewing platform.
“One of London’s major landmarks we simply had no right not to visit, and we ended up not regretting the time spent in the slightest. There’s an interesting museum inside, and there’s a chance to see how the lift mechanism works. And of course, the view from the bridge – it’s magnificent.
The National Gallery in London
One of the most famous art museums in the world, whose history began in 1824 with the acquisition of a collection of 38 paintings belonging to a native of Russia – John Julius Agerstein. The gallery proper was opened later, in 1839. Today there are more than two thousand works of art, painted by West European painters in the XII-XX centuries. All masterpieces are represented in the exposition according to the chronology.
There are several cafes in the National Gallery where you can have a coffee and relax, souvenir shops and art stores offering a variety of souvenirs, books and copies of paintings from the gallery.
The museum is located in Trafalgar Square. Admission is free, but you can leave a small donation.
“A really worthwhile place, a must-see even for those who don’t classify themselves as great admirers of painting. I did not manage to visit the entire exposition in one day, so I returned the second day and did not regret the time spent. I was pleased with the free entrance.
Majestic Gothic style temple built with some interruptions from 1245 to 1745 in the London Borough of Westminster. Traditionally used as a place for coronation and coronation ceremonies for monarchs as well as their burials.
Representatives of royal dynasties, clergy, nobles and writers have rested in the Abbey. It also holds the relics of Edward the Confessor in a hotel chapel named after him.
One of the places of attraction for tourists is located between the chapels of Henry the Seventh and St. Edward a majestic throne, on which the British kings are crowned. Under the seat is a special niche in which the so-called Stone of Destiny, kept at Edinburgh Castle, is placed.
The abbey is located in central London, near the Thames Embankment and next to the Palace of Westminster. Tickets cost between £9 and £20.
“Undoubtedly, once to visit here is worthwhile for a general understanding of English culture and history, but I was not enthused by this place. In fact, this abbey is one big cemetery.”
Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens
Hyde Park is one of the Royal parks joined together to form a massive green space in the center of the British capital. It gained the status of a Royal Park in 1536 after Henry the Eighth acquired it for the purpose of hunting here. The park became accessible to the citizens in 1637 after the construction of a peculiar ring, which separated the park itself from the gardens to the north. The park serves as a place for citizens to gather and discuss various topics. In the heart of the park is the large Serpentine Lake, in which bathing is allowed.
Kensington Gardens is another royal park located next door to Hyde Park and was part of the latter until 1728. The main attraction is the humble Kensington Palace, where Queen Victoria was born. Also eye-catching is the large 180-foot memorial to Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert the First and the statue of Peter Pan. There’s also the Serpentine Museum of Contemporary Art, which occupies the former Tea Pavilion.
“A great place to walk and relax in nature from the hustle and bustle of the city. The number of paths for walking, running, cycling and horseback riding was amazing. If you have free time, it’s definitely worth a visit.”
London is a universal tourist city, which will be interesting to anyone, regardless of his interests, preferences and temperament. Simply because it has everything – from ancient castles with thousands of years of history to ultra-modern discos where the world’s best DJs play. The best time to visit the British capital is from April to September.
Top 10 London Sights
London is an ancient city which was founded in 43 B.C. by the Romans and called Londilium. Over time, the settlement grew and developed. In its history, London has given the world many great physicists, mathematicians, engineers and other scientific people. For centuries, the English have been among the first to develop scientific thought. First-time visitors to London quickly notice the red phone booths and double-decker cars running through the city streets, as well as the abundance of cyclists. The left-hand traffic is also surprising at first. London has many beautiful parks and gardens. Many galleries and museums here have free admission. But first of all everyone is attracted to the most famous sights of the ancient English capital.
1. the Tower
As this fortress is 900 years old, it has witnessed much of English history, for which it has been a royal residence, a prison, and a menagerie. The Tower was home to the royal treasury and mint, which have now become an interesting museum complex. Not only the interiors and medieval architecture are preserved here, but also the ancient ceremonies and traditions, and the ancient prophecies and legends are still remembered today. Since the time of King Charles II, the crows have been a symbol of the Tower. It is said that the ghosts of Anne Boleyn and the monarchs beheaded in the Tower roam the local halls.
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2. Westminster Abbey.
This is a true English shrine, where monarchs were crowned and found their eternal resting place. Architecturally, the abbey building is an example of early English Gothic. It was built over a number of centuries. There is an organ and many paintings, sculptures and jewelry here. Since 1066, almost all the kings of England were crowned in Westminster. The deceased monarchs were accompanied here by the color of the nation, including renowned scholars, poets and military leaders. On the grounds of Westminster Abbey are St. Margaret’s and St. Peter’s churches, both built in the Gothic style. It’s impossible to take your eyes off the slender, graceful towers that look as sharp as they do elegant. It’s hard to believe that the laced inner vaults are made of simple stone and are the work of human hands.
3. the British Museum
By parliamentary decision in 1753, the British Museum was opened in London, which has since become a find for history buffs. The museum has 94 galleries, of which you could build a row of four kilometers long. The British Museum is famous for its huge collection of historical artifacts and documents, here were brought the most interesting things from around the world, when half the world ruled the British Empire. Wandering the museum halls, you can meet its unusual keepers of rarities and mascots – cats, dressed in uniform. It takes about a week to walk around all the galleries of the museum, which occupies an area of 6 hectares. The British Museum boasts the most significant collection of Egyptian antiquities. The famous Rosetta Stone, which served as the key to the unlocking of Egyptian writing, was brought here, as well as a huge number of mummies, objects of luxury and everyday life are collected here. Ancient Greece and Rome are also covered in details, art objects of Asian and African peoples are widely represented.
4. Buckingham Palace
The most important landmark in London is Buckingham Palace, which serves as the official residence of Elizabeth II. The palace and the adjoining garden spread out over the city quite extensively, occupying 20 hectares of land. Receptions of foreign heads of state are held here by the Queen and she has her gala dinners. The palace has a total of 775 rooms, so the Royal Art Gallery, which is open to the public, can also be found here. In August and September, Buckingham Palace is open to visitors because the Queen is not there, but many tourists come here to see how the monarch of record lives. The show begins just outside the palace gates, where the royal guard stands. In the halls of the palace you can see the personal collection of Elizabeth II, which includes masterpieces by Michelangelo, Van Dyck, Rembrandt, Vermeer, collections of antique furniture and porcelain. For £8, you can visit the Royal Stables, which contains the monarch’s carriages (an open-air bridal carriage, a golden coach) and the Queen’s horses.
5. London Eye.
Relatively recently on the banks of the Thames in London appeared a huge Ferris wheel 135 meters high. It can accommodate 800 people at a time. The name “London Eye” is justified, because from the height of the attraction you can see everything at a distance of 40 kilometers. Each cabin, weighing 10 tons, has a sufficient number of seats and a cinema with a three-dimensional picture. The wheel has a unique lighting, so it looks spectacular even at night. The wheel rotates very slowly and does not stop, so the embarkation and disembarkation of visitors is “on the go” and slowed down only for the disabled and elderly.
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6. Elizabeth Tower
Recently, this has become the name of the clock tower of the Palace of Westminster, on which the famous Big Ben bell is mounted. This symbol of the kingdom was built in 1859. In 2012, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the reign of Elizabeth II, Parliament decided to rename the clock tower. The Elizabeth Tower bears the largest 4-sided clock in the world with a striking clock. Their complex clock mechanism is located at a height of 55 m. Its maintenance personnel keep a keen eye on its technical condition, as even changes in the state of the atmosphere affect its accuracy. Coins are sometimes placed on the pendulum of the clock to adjust its movement. In order to protect the clock mechanism tourists are not allowed into the tower. Residents of London celebrate the New Year with the chime of Big Ben.
7. Tower Bridge
This bridge was inaugurated in 1894 in the presence of Edward, Prince of Wales, and his wife. A unique design with counterweights allowed the bridge wings to unfold without much energy in just a minute. The two towers have not only stairs but also elevators to the upper gallery, which was supposed to allow citizens to cross the river even when the bridge was open. But people preferred to wait for the wings to be lowered and the gallery became an observation deck and exhibition about the history of the bridge. Here you can go down into the engine room to see the old lifting mechanisms. From the gallery of the bridge you can see wonderful panoramas of London. At night the bridge is illuminated, making it very beautiful.
8. Madame Tussauds Museum
Every year 2.5 million people come to this wax museum. The celebrity look-alikes exhibited in the halls of the museum are made incredibly realistically, it is very easy to confuse them with the originals. Madame Tussauds began making impersonators in 1835, although unofficially that date has been pushed back to the second half of the 18th century. The “Cabinet of Horrors” especially attracts visitors. During the tour visitors can admire the copies of famous figures of present and past times; here they can also take a virtual ride in an old London cab. There is no shortage of people here: from Shakespeare and Jack the Ripper to Lady Gaga, from athletes and businessmen to politicians and crowned heads. You can have your photo taken with Elizabeth II herself, kiss Brad Pitt or pose with Muhammad Ali.
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9. Trafalgar Square
This famous square appeared in the center of London in honor of the victory of the British fleet over the Spaniards and the French in 1805 near Trafalgar. In its center stands Admiral Nelson’s column surrounded by metal lions and fountains. On the square there are four pedestals, three of which stand statues of the great British, and the fourth began to use only in 2005, putting the main Christmas tree of Britain (the Norwegians annually send it for help during the last war) before the New Year. Until recently, on this square reigned pigeons, a flock of which numbered up to 45 thousand heads. But because of problems with cleaning the square from pigeon droppings, the authorities have forbidden to feed the birds here. But nowadays Trafalgar Square is adored by tourists and demonstrators.
10. St. Paul’s Cathedral
At the highest point of London, on Langate Hill, stands St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose circular dome towers over the city. This largest Anglican cathedral in Europe is the seat of the Bishop of London. It was officially inaugurated in 1708, but before that there were four previous churches, three of which were destroyed by fires and one was destroyed in 961 in a Viking raid. On the tower of the cathedral there is an observation deck, which gives an excellent view of the city, not worse than the “London Eye. Under the dome of the temple there are three amazing galleries: made of stone, gilded, and a whispering gallery in which very interesting acoustic effects are observed. The dome of the cathedral is a copy of the dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, which has made it one of London’s recognizable landmarks. There are 17 bells on the temple’s bell tower, and concerts of sacred music are often held there. In 1860, the interior of the cathedral was changed, for which the parishioners had to organize a special fund. The current interiors of the temple attract sculptures, openwork lattices, magnificent mosaics. It was here that Prince Charles of Wales and Diana Spencer were married.
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