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Time In London

London is one of the world's most intriguing and beautiful cities to spend time in. It is truly one of the world's greatest cities by almost any measure. With a formidable collection of world famous landmarks, parks and cultural and political institutions, London is an amazing place to visit. It is a truly global city and a major international center of tourism, business, entertainment, education and the arts. It ranks with NY and Tokyo as one of the world's major financial centers. To really understand and experience the depth and breadth of this great city, you will need to spend a great deal of time in London. After all, there is a vast resource of culture and history that has accumulated over the last 2000 years - ever since London was founded by the ancient Romans, naming it "Londinium."

double decker bus

The city is not just steeped in history. It is also the place where not only much of the history of the powerful and influential nation of Great Britain was shaped, but also the metropolis where a great deal of world history was also permanently changed. Whether you go back in time to the Norman Conquest 1,000 years ago, or to the war years around 1940, London has been a pivotal focus for national and international events. The city has also long played an important international role in entertainment, media and culture. It is also an exciting city to experience. You are certain to have a memorable time in London discovering an insight into this magnificent city as you wander around and enjoy the sights and culture.

The historical significance of the city is matched by its unique heritage. Visitors are guaranteed to have a fascinating time exploring its myriad attractions. Marveling at the Palace of Westminster and its stateliness and grandeur next to the Thames. Exploring the Tower of London and learning about its past. Pondering the Magna Carta and its significance in the advancement of worldwide democracy. Admiring the beautiful engineering of London Tower Bridge. Spending time studying priceless antiquities in the legendary British Museum or admiring masterpieces of art in the National Gallery. Checking the time in front of Big Ben. Standing in awe at the pure wonder and majesty of St Paul's Cathedral and countless other historical landmarks.

Union Jack flag

Situated on the River Thames, London is the capital of England and has a population close to 8 million. However, London's population is permanently swelled by the massive number of visitors it receives - around 14 million international travelers arrive each year. This makes London the most visited city in the world, and with good reason! The city has a multitude of magnificent and unique attractions. There are World Heritage Sites such as Westminster Abbey. There are famous landmarks like Buckingham Palace. And there are historical institutions such as the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The discerning traveler will need a great of time to try to experience it all.

London also has many beautiful parks to explore and relax in, such as wondrous and tranquil Kew Gardens, one of four World Heritage sites in the city. There are famous shopping precincts and department stores, such as Harrods, to explore if you want to buy some clothes or gifts. There are wonderful theaters to visit, especially in the West End, exciting nightclubs to experience and excellent restaurants to try all over the city. London always seems to be a key center for music and the arts. This is truly one of the great cities of the world, so it is no surprise that it is the world's most visited international destination.

London Olympics

In 2005, London was selected to be the venue for the Games of the XXX Olympiad. The Olympic Games open on 27 July 2012 and close on 12 August and promises to be an exciting event that will captivate the world. More than 10,000 athletes will participate in 26 sports. The center of the Games will be in East London's 500 acre (202 hectare) Olympic Park but other world famous venues will also be utilized, such as Wimbledon for tennis, Wembley Stadium for football and Lord's for archery. Most venues are in one of three Greater London zones, the Olympic Zone, the Central Zone or the River Zone.

English swimmer

Special highlights include the iconic Women's Marathon which will occur on 5 August and Men's Marathon on 12 August. The marathons are especially popular since you do not need a ticket! Over 9 million tickets will be offered to witness the other sports at the Games so that as many people as possible will be able to witness the thrills and excitement first hand. In 2012, London will become the first city to ever play host to three Olympic Games, having had that honor previously in 1908 and 1948. Comprehensive details about the 2012 Games can be found at the official website london2012.com

Climate

Travelers planning to spend time in London will want to have an idea what the weather might be like in advance. In mid-summer the July temperature is likely to be around 57-74 F (14-23 C) though the climate can vary dramatically from these guidelines. In mid-winter the chilly January temperature is likely to be in the 36-46 F (2-8 C) range, on average. Some days may be much colder and snow can fall on the city any time between November and April. But if you need a change of wardrobe, London is a shopping paradise with many famous stores where you can buy fashionable clothes and accessories to suit every variation in the day's climate.

London Airports

London is the world's number one tourist destination and is served by a number of airports, with most air traffic coming via the six main international airports. Heathrow and Gatwick are the two major airports. Stansted and Southend Airports in nearby Essex also serve London, as does Luton in Bedfordshire, while London City Airport mainly caters to business travellers and business jets.

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Heathrow Airport in West London has more international passengers in transit than any other airport in the world, and is also ranked the world number three in terms of total passenger traffic. Around 67 million passengers pass through Heathrow each year. Heathrow is located in Hillingdon which is 14 miles (22 km) west of the city center. It has two runways and five terminals. Heathrow is served by an express train to Paddington, the Tube and various bus, coach and taxi services.

Gatwick Airport is about 28 miles (46 km) south of London. It is London's second busiest airport with around 31 million passengers carried each year. Gatwick has two large terminals, North and South (home to the railway station) and a people mover "monorail" operates between them. Gatwick also boasts the largest air passenger bridge in the world. Various bus and coach services are available for connection with various London destinations and beyond.

Stansted Airport is London's third busiest, with around 18-20 million passenger visits each year, and is located 30 miles (48 km) north east of London. Stansted has one main terminal which houses a railway station serving London and other destinations. There are also coach and taxi services offered.

Hotels in London

London is the world's number one tourist destination. It's no surprise then that the city has a vast selection of around 1500 hotels to choose from, with a wide range of ratings to suit all budgets. These hotels are located in a variety of places around London, and it's well worth spending some time to make your selection to suit your interests and your budget.

London has a large number of exceptional five star hotels. Some are famous around the world for their luxury and service. Some of them have become household names, benchmarks for the finest quality of accommodation style, standards and sophistication. In fact, there are around 100 hotels that have earned this top five star rating! A room in one of these top establishments is sure to make your holiday time in London highly enjoyable and memorable.

From traditional to modern in style, the choices are exceptional - just a select few of these great and highly rated hotels are listed here. Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair, famous for its Art Deco style and history. The Savoy Hotel on the Strand, Westminster, a household name and renowned since 1889. The Ritz Hotel at Piccadilly in the West End with its famously beautiful restaurant. The InterContinental Hotel Park Lane, close to Buckingham Palace. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Hyde Park, close to Harrods and shopping boutiques.

The Hilton Waldorf, close to the West End and the financial district. The Milestone Hotel in Kensington Court, famous for luxury. The Marriott West India Quay Hotel, located at Canary Wharf. The Marriott Hotel County Hall at Westminster Bridge near London Eye and other attractions. The Stafford Hotel in St James's, close to Bond Street. The Soho Hotel, centrally located in Richmond Mews. The Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane, opposite Hyde Park. These are just a select few of much more than 1000 hotels in London!


Palace of Westminster

The Palace of Westminster is an exceptional complex of buildings in the Perpendicular Gothic architectural style forming a grand quadrangular shape. Magnificently located on the River Thames in the City of Westminster near the Westminster Bridge, this is the official meeting place of both houses of Parliament, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It is commonly referred to as the "Houses of Parliament". Visiting here is a highly rewarding way to spend time in London.

Marching GuardsmenIn 1834 a devastating fire destroyed much of the previous complex leading to the commencement of the present building's construction in 1840. In 1987 it became recognized as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site listing in association with Westminster Abbey and St Margaret's Church. The site's architecture is not the only reason for it's fame — it is also highly significant for social and political reasons — the phrase "Westminster system of government" derives from the Houses of Parliament here.

The Palace of Westminster is a huge complex and an essential destination for London visitors. There are two main towers which feature architecturally on the site. One of these is Victoria Tower, which has the impressively grand height of 323 feet (98 meters). It has several functions, such as being a repository for the Parliamentary Archives which contain more than three million documents. It also features the Sovereign's Entrance which is used by the reigning monarch for state occasions such as the opening of parliament. The original Bill of Rights is stored here, along with so much more of English history.

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace is a grand building in the City of Westminster and the primary residence of the British monarch. It has been a focal point of royal and state occasions since 1837. The Changing of the Guard is held in the Forecourt, and this exciting occasion has been the highlight of many a traveler's time in London. Investitures are held in the palace Ballroom, which at 120 feet (37 meters) long, is the biggest room in the palace. Special Note — some interior parts of the palace are only open to the public during the English summer.

In front of the palace is the magnificent Victoria Memorial, dedicated to Queen Victoria. Victory is featured on the pinnacle with other beautiful figures also featured such as the Angel of Truth. The statue is in The Mall, a ceremonial approach linking Admiralty Arch to the forecourt of the palace which witnesses cavalcades and special occasions such as Trooping the Colour. This is a spectacular annual parade performed by British and Commonwealth regiments and their horses, with around 400 musicians and a 41 gun salute.

Behind the palace is London's largest private garden. This is where large summer garden parties are held and special occasions marked. The Royal Mews, home of the carriage horses and the world famous Gold State Coach, is adjacent to the palace.

Buckingham Palace was bombed during World War II, and the most significant damage sustained was the destruction of the chapel. That site was later used to build the Queen's Gallery where selected works from the Royal Collection are held. The gallery is open to the public. The Queen's stoicism after that challenging disaster proved to be a great boost to public morale at the time.

British Museum

The British Museum collection of over 7 million objects represents a comprehensive repository of human history and culture from around the globe. The British Museum is located in Great Russell Street and is open seven days a week. Admission is free to all, and with such a wondrous, exciting and educational collection, a visit to the museum is a fun and rewarding way to spend time in London.

Westminster AbbeyThe British Museum had its origins in a bequest of more than 70,000 objects by Sir Hans Sloane to King George II. The museum was subsequently established in 1753 by an Act of Parliament. Acquisitions and bequests have continued to build up this very fine collection to this day. World wide field trips from 1840 also contributed (as well as making a number of very significant archaeological discoveries).

In 1802 the museum had already outgrown its original location in Montagu House, and Sir Robert Smirke was commissioned to commence the neoclassical quadrangular building design that we admire today. With a grand public entrance and imposing presence, the museum features 44 ionic columns. Inside, there are almost 100 galleries on display.

The British Museum has a number of diverse and important departments covering important periods of human history and culture. Only Egypt has a more comprehensive collection of Egyptian antiquities than The Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan, covering thousands of years of culture from the Nile region. The Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities has an extensive collection from the Classical world dating from the Greek Bronze Age 5000 years ago. And the Department of Prehistory and Europe has a collection dating back 2 million years to prehistoric times.

Other important departments focus on the Middle East, Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Americas, a testament to the unsurpassed diversity and comprehensive breadth of the museum's superb collection.

Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum in South Kensington opened in 1881 in the Alfred Waterhouse building, a grand example of Victorian architecture and a fine London landmark. Myriad terracotta tiles illustrate the wide diversity of Mother Nature with relief sculptures of flora and fauna. The ornate exterior is matched by the imposing scale of a spacious main hall inside featuring natural lighting from skylights above.

The museum possesses around 70 million specimens from all corners of the globe which feature in its displays, educational programs and research. The historical and scientific value is immense, with some specimens even having been collected by Charles Darwin (who is also recognized by the museum in the form of a fine statue). The exhibits are broadly categorized into five main collections: Botany, Entomology, Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology.

The Natural History Museum is particularly famous and popular for its displays of dinosaur skeletons, especially the gigantic Diplodocus cast which is 105 feet (32 meters) in length. "Dippy" the Diplodocus (as it is called) casts a spell over the large hall it resides in. The museum also has countless other superb displays to learn from, and you will need to allocate lots of time in London to do justice to the vast collection and entertaining displays.

Imperial War Museum

The Imperial War Museum in London has been located in the majestic former Bethlem Royal Hospital in Southwark since 1936. From it's earliest days, it was intended to record in a personal way the hard work and sacrifice of the participants, rather than being a mere impersonal record of the glory of war. The museum's fine and vast collection comprehensively covers the various military conflicts of the British Empire in the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum has a number of other branches in England, including HMS Belfast (a Town class cruiser which served throughout World War II) and the Churchill War Rooms (an underground command center) in London.

St Paul's Cathedral and Millennium BridgeTwo massive 15 inch guns stand impressively at the front of the museum. Being a former hospital, the building's courtyard was converted into the Large Exhibits Gallery to suit the needs of a major museum. Here, you can see superb historical exhibits such as a Sopwith Camel, Mark V and Grant tanks, Polaris missiles and a multitude of other ordnance and items. Other highlights of the museum's extensive collection of more than 10 million objects include Victoria Crosses and other medals, soldiers' diaries and a colt pistol owned by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The museum supports a superb website at iwm.org.uk where you can search in advance for detailed info and pictures via the "Collections and Research" button.

The museum has eight departments. The Department of Exhibits and Firearms maintains a collection of artillery, vehicles, aircraft, ordnance and medals. The Photograph Archive's 6 million images record in detail the two world wars and later conflicts. The Film & Video Archive maintains the official visual British record of the world wars. Oral history recordings and wartime broadcasts are notable features. A variety of manuscripts, diaries, letters and records are preserved by the Department of Documents. Other departments cover the fields of Art, Printed Books (including important maps) and Holocaust & Genocide History.

Victoria & Albert Museum

The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), with its collection of more than 4 million objects, is the world's leading repository of decorative arts and design. The collection, assembled in 145 galleries, covers 5,000 years of human cultural and artistic history in just about every field of artistic design.

There are comprehensive collections of sculpture, ceramics, glassware, furniture, jewelry, metalwork, textiles, fashion, medieval objects, prints and printmaking and more. The displays are certain to enthrall visitors and inspire creative people from around the world. The V&A has a stated aim to enable visitors to "explore the cultures that created them" and it surely succeeds.

There are more than 200,000 paintings and drawings in the V&A, and the vast and diverse collection is priceless and superb. Artists represented include Rembrandt, Cezanne, Raphael, Turner, Degas, Durer and Botticelli. Oil paintings, watercolors, miniatures, drawings and prints from many eras and cultures are well represented. The works are inspiring and educational, so time in the V&A will be well spent.

To focus on just one section for example, the V&A's photographic collection of over 500,000 images is extensive and dates from 1839, which was very early days in this field. Photographers like Fox Talbot, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Man Ray are among many artists represented. You can even see an early example of Eadweard Muybridge's animal motion series.

Science Museum

The Science Museum had its origins in 1857 as part of the then South Kensington Museum, and attained its independent status in 1909. Its current buildings were constructed in the decade after World War I. The museum now contains more than 300,000 items in its vast collection. Many areas of science and engineering are represented, from engines to medicine, from technology to flight. The museum holds a formidable collection of scientific and historical objects.

One of the most famous exhibits is Stephenson's Rocket (a steam engine) built in 1829. It was such a technological breakthrough at the time, with its innovations and design, that it set the standard for steam locomotives henceforth. For example, the number of boiler tubes was increased from one to 25, which greatly increased the volume of steam generated, and hence the power.

Flight is also very well represented at the museum. Among the airplanes and helicopters exhibited are Spitfire and Hurricane fighters, as well as Alcock and Brown's 1919 Vickers Vimy which crossed the Atlantic Ocean non-stop in that year. Jumping ahead in time, the museum is also home to the Apollo 10 command module which voyaged around the moon in 1969 in a rehearsal for the moon landing. These are just a few samples of the fun and educational exhibits of special interest to families at the Science Museum.

National Maritime Museum

Located in Greenwich Royal Park, the National Maritime Museum's grand buildings and spacious garden setting are wonderful places to visit in London. The museum covers Britain's rich naval history and heritage from the 16th to the beginning of the 20th century and possesses more than 2 million objects. The museum's superb displays include maritime maps, paintings & portraits, manuscripts, plans, instruments and models. It also holds the world's largest historical maritime library dating back more than 500 years.

Millennium WheelHighlights of the museum's collection include comprehensive holdings relating to the lives and achievements of Captain James Cook and Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson. Of special interest to children are the models of ships from various eras.

Since time measurement is such an important aspect of navigation, chronometers are presented on display. It was at Greenwich that Charles II established the Royal Observatory with the intention of helping mariners with their navigation, set their clocks, find their longitude and observe a universal time system.

Greenwich, besides being important as the center of GMT and marker of the Prime Meridian, also has a rich naval history. Centuries ago it had been a Roman landing place, and the British Navy can also trace some of its origins to the area.

Kew Gardens

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a magnificent complex of spectacular gardens, glasshouses and buildings in south west London, situated on the Thames. Kew Gardens maintains a vast collection of living plants and covers 299 acres (121 hectares). The herbarium holds more than 7 million preserved specimens, there are more than 750,000 volumes in the library and more than 175,000 plant prints and drawings in the illustration collection. Exploring the Gardens is a truly enjoyable and relaxing way to spend rewarding time in London.

Founded in 1759, the site contains some of the finest examples of the art of gardens created in the last two and a half centuries. The Gardens also contains some important and historical buildings, for example, Temperate House, the world's largest Victorian glass building still in existence, which took 40 years to build. And, Kew Gardens has made a great contribution to the sciences of botany, ecology, horticulture, plant classification, seed preservation and plant diversity through its ongoing research, educational programs and international cooperation.

Kew Gardens has many wonderful features, and you will need to allocate lots of time to do them justice. There is a beautiful variety of plants to admire in the many specialist gardens, designed landscapes and ornamental lakes. The Arboretum contains more than 14,000 trees and spans more than half the area of the Gardens. The Treetop Walkway is 59 feet (18 meters) tall and takes you through a tree canopy. The Aquatic Garden, more than 100 years old, contains a wide selection of waterlilies and aquatic plants. There is an extensive Carnivorous Plant Collection and a compelling Orchid Collection in the impressive Princess of Wales Conservatory, which contains 10 micro-climatic zones. The Rose Garden is a particularly beautiful display of superb roses.

The Gardens is perhaps equally famous for its historic buildings. Palm House and Temperate House are magnificent glasshouses constructed with iron frames. Palm House has a walkway 29.5 feet (9 meters) tall so you can view the palm tops. Temperate House contains plants from all the world's major temperate regions. Kew Palace dates from around 1631 and is adjacent to the "Queen's Garden". Beautifully situated on a lake, Museum No. 1 was designed to represent humanity's dependence on plants and has an excellent collection of economic botany exhibits. The Orangery is a classical style building dating from 1761, and is now a restaurant where you can relax for lunch or afternoon tea.

London panorama


Greenwich

Maritime Greenwich is an unforgettable group of historic buildings in a park setting next to the Thames. The scientific and architectural significance is immense. The site is a paradigm of the pinnacle of English creative and scientific achievements in the 17th-18th centuries. The Renaissance style Queen's House, designed by Inigo Jones, was England's first Palladian building. He was also one of the architects of the Royal Hospital. A design for the Royal Park was devised in 1662 by the famous French landscape architect André Le Nôtre.


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The Old Royal Observatory sits on a hill in Greenwich Park. The observatory was commissioned by King Charles II in 1675 with the aim of advancing the strategically important sciences of astronomy and navigation. This is the most famous place in the world for time measurement and the origin of what became a very important world standard of enormous significance.

Greenwich is synonymous with the measurement of time and is most famous for Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the baseline for the international time zone system. GMT is the abbreviation given to London's time zone (current London time is displayed at the top of this website.) Special Note: GMT designates official winter time in London. In summer, it technically becomes British Summer Time (BST). For BST, time is advanced by one hour from GMT on the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October.

The Gherkin buildingThe historic settlement also marks the Prime Meridian which is defined as being 0 degrees longitude. (The International Date Line in principle follows its opposite - the 180th meridian). The Greenwich Meridian had first been established in 1851. In 1884, 25 nations met in the USA for the International Meridian Conference and Greenwich was selected as the Prime Meridian.

Tower Bridge

London's famous Tower Bridge on the River Thames was opened in 1894. The bridge originally used steam power to operate the moveable sections. That has been replaced by modern hydraulic motors. Because the passage of tall masted ships was so important to London commerce at the time, a very special bridge design was required. You can still see the original magnificent steam engines in the museum at the south end.

Tower Bridge has a "double leaf" drawbridge section balanced by counterweights that lift up to facilitate river traffic. This is an important part of its fascination for tourists and wonderful to see if you have some spare time in London. Each leaf weighs more than 1000 tons and is around 100 feet (30 meters) long. They are opened about 1000 times each year.

To complete the engineering, two walkways link the solid towers high above the water. These have beautiful London views and are also used for exhibitions. The towers have a decorated Victorian Gothic appearance, intended to echo the style of the nearby Tower of London from which it took its name. And suspension sections link the central drawbridge section with the river shores, helping to give Tower Bridge its unique character.

Big Ben

The Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster, famously known as "Big Ben", stands 316 feet tall (96 meters). It is one of the most iconic symbols of London and probably the most famous clock in the world. It is the world's largest four face bell ringing clock. The tower was designed in a Gothic Revival style by Augustus Pugin at the request of Sir Charles Barry, the Parliament's chief architect.

Big Ben contains the Great Clock of Westminster which has served astonishingly accurate time for Londoners since 1859. The hour hands are almost 9 feet (2.8 meters) in length! When in Westminster you have no excuse not to know the correct time in London! Big Ben's movement is famous for its accuracy. The pendulum alone weighs 660 pounds (300 kg) and is 12.8 feet long (3.9 meters).

The "Big Ben" moniker originally came from the unofficial nickname for the largest bell, The Great Bell of Westminster, which is used to strike the hour. Four smaller quarter bells play the Westminster Quarters every 15 minutes. The ringing of the bells is a popular tradition in the city.

Tower of London

The Tower of London was built at a strategic location on the Thames by William the Conqueror. Its purpose was to both protect and control the capital of the new Norman kingdom through its location and garrison, thus consolidating his power. The Tower is essentially a palace within a fortress.

Tower of LondonThe Tower of London has played a very important role in British and European history. For example, the disappearance of Edward V and his brother Richard of Shrewsbury (the "Princes in the Tower") in the 15th century, and the imprisonment of four queens in the 16th, changed the course of history and that of the Royal Family. Three of those queens were executed. Sir Thomas More was imprisoned for treason in 1535 and beheaded, only to become a saint later.

The Tower is also steeped in mystery. The "Princes in the Tower" disappeared without a trace. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Tower is the legend of the Ravens, and this story has stood the test of time. They have resided there for centuries and receive extra special care, because according to legend, if the Ravens ever leave, the kingdom will fall.

The legendary Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since 1303. The regalia and apparel are worn by the king or queen at important state functions and coronations. The term refers to a precious collection of crowns, swords, sceptres, robes and other royal items. Their history, value and design hold immense fascination for those who view them. For example, the Imperial State Crown contains more than 3,000 jewels, mostly diamonds. One of these is a famous named diamond, the Cullinan II, a.k.a. "The Lesser Star of Africa."

Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a magnificent Anglo-French Gothic style church located in the City of Westminster, London. It is believed to have originated as an abbey around the year 970, but construction of the present church was begun in 1245 by Henry III in honor of the Royal Saint Edward the Confessor. The two western towers were added in the first half of the 18th century. The Abbey is one of the great landmarks of London, with its epic architecture, inspiring scale and sense of historical significance.

Tradition has it that the Abbey is the venue for Royal coronations and burials. Coronations have been held there since 1066. Royal weddings are often held there as well. Most English kings and queens are buried in Westminster Abbey. Over time, a tradition grew for other prominent and admired people to be interred there as well, such as poets, soldiers, scientists and politicians. Notable people whose final resting place is in the Abbey include Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake, Charles Dickens and the Bronte Sisters. Of special note is the tomb of The Unknown Warrior, interred on Armistice Day, 1920.

The Abbey has a museum in one of its oldest sections which dates back to the 11th century. Adjacent to the abbey is the beautiful St Margaret's Church, founded by Benedictine monks in the 12th century and rebuilt in the decades around 1500. The historic church features stained glass windows dedicated to various famous people including John Milton and Sir Walter Raleigh.

St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral is one of London's most treasured icons. It's design and scale are a testament to the skills of its designer Sir Christopher Wren who was commissioned to design it in 1669. It was officially opened in 1697.

St Paul's is a Church of England cathedral and serves the Diocese of London. It features a very large dome balanced by two towers and other stylish architectural elements in an English Baroque design of the late Renaissance, and sits very impressively on the City of London's highest point. It is Standing 365 feet high (111 meters) the cathedral was London's tallest building for several centuries. Equally impressive is the awe inspiring interior, it's incredible to see the unbelievable interior of the dome — rising 213 feet (65 meters) above the floor.

The cathedral's long history can be traced back to 604 AD, when a church dedicated to Paul the Apostle was believed to have been founded. Since those days it has been the venue for many important events in British history, such as the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana.

The cathedral had special significance for Londoners during the Blitz of WWII. It miraculously survived major damage from sustained bombing against London, and came to symbolize the resilience of the British war effort, boosting morale. It was in fact struck by bombs in 1940 and 1941.

Shard London Bridge

"The Shard" (to use its popular name) in Southwark is 1016 feet (309.6 meters) tall — making it the tallest building in the European Union. The basic structure was completed in April 2012. Its spectacular style and beauty is a genuine sight to behold, with its apex seeming to disappear into the sky overhead. Its viewing area and observation deck on the 72nd floor promises to give a truly spectacular vision of London when it opens in February 2013. (The building proper opened to the public in July 2012, nicely timed for the Olympics).

The ShardThe Shard's grand style is like a tall, elongated triangular shaped pyramid. It has an impressive 72 floors for human activity which includes office space and a hotel. Its formidable presence is inspiring and colossal. The tower is clad in glass, allowing the walls to reflect the sky and the sun and the seasons and the clouds and the city, resulting in a startling new asset for this amazing metropolis. Somehow, the building succeeds in being both new and classic at the same time, a convergence of the Ancient and the Modern, a remarkable architectural achievement.

The Shard was designed by the internationally renowned architect Renzo Piano. The cost of the building was 450 million pounds. Renzo Piano likened the building concept to a "shard of glass" — ultra modern in scope yet paying tribute to the old church steeples that can be seen in old engravings of London. The angled panes of glass that clad the building reflect the surroundings to soften the footprint of what is in fact a very large building of 1,200,000 square feet (110,000 square meters). On The Shard's website, Renzo Piano provides an apt description for this major world architectural monument: "This is my vision: I foresee the tower as a vertical city, for thousands of people to work in and enjoy, and for millions to take to their heart."

British Library

The British Library in St Pancras became separate from the British Museum in 1973. The library's colossal collection has 14 million books and more than 130 million additional items including manuscripts, newspapers, sound recordings, patents, stamps, maps, prints and drawings. Every country in the world is represented. Ancient and historical items date back about 3 thousand years, making the library one of the world's most important historical repositories.

Various important books and priceless manuscripts are on special public display. Visitors may be able to see a Gutenberg Bible, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, a notebook of Leonardo da Vinci or a 1215 copy of the Magna Carta. Other highlights of the library are the King's Library (books, manuscripts and maps collected by King George III), the Sound Archive containing more than a million recordings from the last 100 years and the Philatelic Collections, a formidable collection of international stamps and materials.

The library also has a Newspapers section (located in Colindale) containing a near complete collection of British newspapers dating from 1840, and thousands dating long before that. This is a significant historical resource for researchers.

National Gallery

The National Gallery, with a grand and stately entrance at Trafalgar Square, was founded in 1824, and its collection represents the art of painting in the time period from the 13th century up to 1900. (Later art is held at Tate Modern).

The initial focus was on works from the High Renaissance but that soon expanded following acquisitions and bequests into a more representative collection of premium art movements in Europe and Britain. The stately gallery building itself underwent expansion over the years. Today, you can enjoy interesting tours, relax with a delicious lunch in the National Dining Room or buy a print of your favorite painting.

Tower BridgeThe gallery experienced a drama of sorts during World War II when the paintings were evacuated to a quarry in North Wales for safety in case of bombing. But during the last few years, just one sole painting was retrieved from the quarry each month for public display at the Gallery, a symbol of defiance that helped keep public morale high during that time.

Masterpieces in the National Gallery include The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci, The Fighting Temeraire by J M W Turner, Belshazzar's Feast by Rembrandt van Rijn, Les Grandes Baigneuses by Paul Cezanne, The Entombment by Michelangelo, Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh and The Thames Below Westminster by Claude Monet.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern resides in a former power station (completed in 1963) in Bankside, Central London. It holds an exceptional collection of international modern art dating from 1900, complementing the period covered by the National Gallery. Spending time in Tate Modern is extremely popular, with almost 5 million visitors each year. On a fine day, you can walk across the Millennium Bridge from St Paul's Cathedral and enjoy spectacular views. Or visit on a relaxing passenger boat from Greenwich or Docklands.

Many important movements are covered from Abstract Expressionism to Surrealism, from Cubism to Futurism, From Arte Povera to Expressionism, from Abstraction to Pop Art. A wide range of artists are represented including Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Georges Braque, Edvard Munch, Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, Henri Matisse, Hans Hartung, Joseph Beuys, Alberto Giacometti, Man Ray, Claude Monet and Andy Warhol. These artists provide a fine representative overview of modern art.

30 St Mary Axe

A beautiful, award-winning skyscraper was completed in the City of London (the city's financial district) at 30 St Mary Axe in 2004. The building stands 591 feet (180 meters) in height, and is sometimes unofficially called the Swiss Re Tower after its principal tenant. It is more frequently and popularly called "The Gherkin" because of its unique and beautiful style. London has an impressive historical heritage, but this ultra modern building is testament to the fact that the city is also looking towards the future.

The building features a beautiful harmonious and curved shape that narrows towards the top, slightly resembling an old rocket ship. Enhancing the structural shape, the exterior has a pleasing criss-cross design that contributes to its organic appearance. This is visually very impressive due to the scale of the building which at 40 floors, is not insignificant. The skyscraper has deservedly won numerous important architectural awards for its ground breaking design.

 


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