Destination London: 5 Iconic Sights

Jocelyn Murray May 15, 2015 No Comments

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Tower of London

Tower of London
photo by Bob Collowân / CC BY-SA 3.0

The walls of this stone fortress have been witness to 1,000 years of history which includes riots, imprisonment, torture, executions, murder, tournaments, coronations and victory celebrations. It houses the Crown Jewels, has served as a Royal Mint, a Medieval Palace, and a Royal Menagerie that included tigers, kangaroos, alligators, bears, monkeys and more. Its resident ravens are said to be guardians of the Tower, and according to legend, must not leave the Tower or the kingdom will fall. The Tower of London is a World Heritage Site, and is open daily except December 24-26, and January 1st.

 

British Museum

British Museum
photo by Jacek Halicki / CC BY-SA 3.0

The British Museum has been hailed as one of the best museums in the world. It began as a kind of cabinet of curiosities owned by Sir Hans Sloane in the 1700s, who bequeathed his vast collection to King George II upon his death. The museum now has more than thirteen million objects related to human history and culture including Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities, works from Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and more. Some notable artifacts included the famous Rosetta Stone, the bronze head of Emperor Augustus, the colossal Roman statue of Apollo of Cyrene, and an impressive collection of coins and medals dating from the 7th century BC to present day.

 

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace
photo by Kevin Hoogheem / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The principal residence of the British monarchy since 1837, Buckingham Palace also serves as the royal administrative base. It has held many Royal ceremonies, state banquets, diplomatic receptions and visits. This centerpiece of Britain’s constitutional monarchy has an impressive 775 rooms including the Throne Room, Ballroom, State Dining Room, and Music Room where several Royal babies were christened. It is surrounded by two lavishly landscaped royal parks, and is open for tours with purchased admission to selected State Rooms.

 

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey
photo by slack12 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This Gothic protestant church has hosted many coronations, burials and royal weddings including that of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. Westminster Abbey was built on orders of King Henry III in the thirteenth century. Its pointed arches, ribbed vaulting, rose windows and flying buttresses are characteristic of Gothic architecture blended with ornate English mouldings and Purbeck marble columns that imbue the church with an exquisite opulence that has lasted centuries.  Westminster Abbey is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is open for worship services and tours.

 

London Eye

The London Eye
photo by Kham Tran – www.khamtran.com / CC BY-SA 3.0

Rising along the southern bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is one of the world’s tallest Ferris wheels, and commands stunning panoramic views of London. It has 32 sealed passenger capsules, each holding up to 25 people. The wheel moves slowly, taking about 30 minutes to complete a full revolution. This gives passengers time to walk around the capsule and take photographs of the view while it moves. It has been open to the public since the year 2000, and is a fantastic way to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.

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Jocelyn Murray is a travel writer and historical fiction novelist. She holds two university master's degrees in both English and Education, along with a bachelor's degree in Economics and European Studies. She also has a teaching credential and taught at the elementary school level.

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