Following the hugely successful 2012 Olympics, all eyes are firmly on London, UK. If you’re planning a trip to the capital make sure you factor in a few cultural attractions and monuments on your must-see list.
The statuesque Buckingham Palace has been the home of the royal family of Britain since 1887 and continues to be London’s most eminent tourist attractions. Originally the palace was constructed for the residence of Duke of Buckingham in 1705. The palace exhibits ultimate grandeur in its grand ballrooms, hallways and the vast dining area. The palace covers 77,000 square meters of area and a long quaint boulevard through the St. James Park leads to its gates. Infrequent tours to the palace are available; it is good to book one before even arriving in London if you can.
Houses of Parliament and Big Ben
Located beside the River Thames, (which in itself is a popular tourist attraction, see below) the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben exhibits the ultimate gothic architecture which perfectly encapsulates London’s important cultural and historical past. Some of the oldest parts of this site were constructed in 1097 and this place has served as the national parliament since sixteenth century.
Tower of London
The Tower of London was constructed by William the Conqueror in eleventh century and the tower has been used for a number of purposes such as a court, palace, prison, arsenal and jewel vault. Many tales of ghosts and bloodsheds have been linked with this tower, which is certainly a key part of London’s great history.
The British Museum is the place to go to learn about the history, legacy and culture of both the UK and the world. The museum was built in 1753 and exhibits the largest collection of cultural elements from all over the world. Some of the most popular displays are Egyptian mummies and artefacts, Greek sculpture, Rosetta stone and remains of the Stone Age.
St. Paul’s Cathedral
One of the oldest sites in the city belongs to St Pauls Cathedral, which is the earliest monastery in the UK, constructed in 604 AD. In the 17th century the cathedral was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, an English architect in the Baroque style of architecture. The cathedral has a dome, 111 meters high which is the tallest in the world.
Also known as the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster Abbey is built in Gothic style in 966 originally to be a monastery. It has a beautiful structural design and it has served as the site of coronation for many British Queens and Kings. It is also a popular royal wedding venue, with Prince William and Catherine Middleton famously marrying there in 2011.
Constructed in 1805, Trafalgar Square was built in commemoration of the victory of Admiral Nelson over the French soldiers at Trafalgar. It has a 51 meter high column on which stands the statue of Admiral Nelson. There 4 plinths with statues and fountains around the column.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is known to be the haven of English literature and culture. It was built in 1599 by an acting company of which William Shakespeare was a part. Some of the best Shakespearean plays are enacted on the stage of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
The Southbank Centre was started as the exhibition forum for the much popular festival of Britain. Presently it serves as one of the most diverse art exhibition and entertainment centers in the world. Many exhibitions of artistic creations by world-known artists and musical concerts are held here regularly. Highlights this summer include Africa Utopia, London Literature Festival 2012 and Festival of the World.
The River Thames
A visit to London is never complete without Thames. A boat trip of Thames gives the perfect visual panorama of the city which is a unique experience indeed. The London Showboat floats on the Thames and offers view to Parliaments, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower Bridge. Enjoy the view over a lavish dinner and a cabaret dance show!
By Julie Bowman