More Sightseeings of the City of London
Beside the royal palaces, churches, parks and plazas, the world city London has more world famous sightseeings to offer. The city centre, the Parliament or the Monument as buildings full of history ar also the attractions as the London Eye are only a few of these tourist magnets.
Houses of Parliament
We were very excited when we were standing in the evening during the happy our at the waterside of the Thames and looked to the illuminated and floodlighted Parliament Buildings. This is a view that one should not miss if one is in London. At this moment one understands why the British capital is considered as one of the most beautiful cities of the world.
But also during the daytime, the Houses of Parliament are impressive to look at. Thereby, this famous term is actually wrong, officially, it is "The Palace of Westminster" and it relates to the history of the Kingdom. There, at the present parliament, the old Royal Palace used to stand. But from all these old buildings, only the Westminster Hall of the year 1097 is remaining, the others were mainly destroyed by several fires. The Westminster Hall is considered as one of the biggest halls of Europe that abstain from roof pillars; With a length of 73,2 m and a width of 20,7 m, it realy is of an impressive size.
In the course of the time, its use oftenly changed. By this way, the courts met there, and, amongst others, at this place, also hearings took place against Thomas Moore, the author of "Utopia", and against King Charles I. Up to the year 1821, it also was the place of the coronation banquets. Today, it is still used for death watchings before state funerals and different celebrations in which the parlament chambers release their greetings to the crown. The golden throne jubilee of Queen Elisabeth II. was one of such events.
But the Houses of Parliament do not only consist of the Westminster Hall, the oldest part. In the 19th century, a building complex was built in the neo-gothic style of that time and of a very impressive arquitecture and is still today fascinating. The towers, of which the Victoria Tower is the highest with 98,5 m, are special eye-catchers. It was named after the Queen Victoria, the new building and the rebuilding were done during her reign. If the Union Jack flyies at its tip, the Parliament is in a meeting.
If the Royal Standard is hoist people know that the Queen is in the building. The Jewel Tower stands there since the year 1366 and survived those catastrophies that led to the downfall of other parts of the original building. In this tower, people can visit an exhibition of the Parliament and the former palace; As the name already says, the Central Tower is located in the centre of the complex.
But the surely most famous tower is the 96 m heighted Big Ben, whereby, to be exactly, it is about the Clock Tower. Big Ben is the biggest of a total of five bells in this clock tower and the third heaviest one of England. Great Bell of Westminster, as it is its official name , became, among other reasons, also famous due to the reason that its sound is the worldwide identification sound of BBC. But generaly, the whole tower is associated with Big Ben. What is also impressive are the clocks at the four sides of the tower with a diameter of 8 m and clock hands of 4 m length.
The buildings get the most important significance by the meetings of the Parliament, or, to be more exactly, of the parliaments, as there is an upper and a lower house. The House of Lords, the upper house, is the meeting place of the nobleness that today has no important political influence any more. The influence comes mainly from the House of Commons, the lower house.
From the gardens that surround the Houses of Parliament, the Victoria Tower Gardens are public and can be visited. It is easy to get to the Houses of Parliament by subway up to the station Westminster and with several bus lines.
City of London
Die City of London is the core of London and of the whole Kingdom. By land area, the city centre is relatively small,with approximately 2,6 km² and the number of inhabitants is low. Only some few thousand people live here, but during the day, several hundred thousands of employees and tourists swarm through the streets and across the plazas.
Those who are in the City of London are on historical ground. Here is the origin of the city. Already the Romans founded here the harbour city Londinium that was protected by a fortification complex, the London Wall. Still today, the centre has a special political status by the privileges conferred by the English Royal House that were never redeemed. The City of London also administers the City of London Corporation that posseses parks and forests in and around the city. Moreover, the corporation also owns a police authority that is independent of the other city districts of the metropolis.
At the access roads to the city there are plinths of stone with a griffin statue and inscription "City of London", with which the area is marked. Distinctive skyscrapers, offices and priorly banks mark the picture of this city district that became the main centre of international finance.
Very close to the north bank of the Lonndon Bridge, there is a 61,5 m heighted column, "The Monument" of London. It is supposed to be the biggest column of the world standing on its own. Surrounded by offices and bank buildings, here, the arquitecture is out of the ordinrary. But the plaza is not without significance, as in the year 1666, the fire that in four days mainly destroyed London, was caused at exactly 61,5 m from here. Among the buildings on which havoc was played there also was St. Paul's Cathedral.
As remembrance to this inferno, a monument was arranged from 1671 to 1677, exactly this one. It was created by Christopher Wren, who also designed many other famous buildings in London. Those who are not afraid to get up the 311 stsirs up to the observation deck will have an interesting view over the city and the Thames. Unfortunately, the view is a little limited by a grid at the observation deck that was arranged there due to some tired of life person who jumped out from the observation deck into the depth. At the top of the column there is an urn with a gold plated fireball. In it the ash of the bakery where the fire was caused is supposed to be kept.
The Big Wheel London Eye
Until the year 2004, the London Eye was, with a height of 135 m, the biggest big wheel of the world, but then it was replaced by one in Chine heighted 160 m. In turn, this lost the record in the year 2008 due to the now biggest one heighted 165 m in Singapur.
But the most famous world wide remained to be the London Eye. Officially, it was opened in the year 1999, but due to some technical problems it could not be authorized for passengers until March 2000. Then nothing could stop it, in the truest sense of the word, the big wheel developed to one of the biggest attractions of London. This was also the reason why it continued operating after having exceeded the originally planned period of five years, thus today it is still spinning undauntedely.
It will hardly happen that people, even if unpractised, will feel sick, as the wheel needs 30 to 40 minutes for one turn. Due to this slow pace it is possible to get in and out without stopping, except the case some people on wheelchairs or other disabled people get in. The gondolas that offer seats for 25 people each, are glassed and air-conditioned all around. As due to the special construction, they are always located outside the wheel and are always horizontally positioned, the sight to the sightseeings of London is excelent. If the weather is very clear, it is even possible to see the Windsor Castle at a distance of 40 km. But this is not often the case, but also the attractions of London in the immediate vecinity, as for example Big Ben, St. Paul's Cathedral or the Buckingham Palace offer a great view.
Thereby, the downer are the usually the long-drawn-out queues. Sometimes, it takes up to an hour until it is one's turn, even by having made a previous booking. These long waiting times can be indeed avoided by booking a fast handling,but then one really has to pay through one's nose. The standard price is also not cheap, as approximately 20 euro are required for an adult and for a child approximately 10 euro. If this justifies the 30 minutes of, admittedly, a fantastic view over London, is open to dispute. In this case, the London passport also does not help, as the London Eye does not belong to the attractions that get a discount.
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Author: Michael Nitzschke, Copyright: Patrick Wagner, www.tourist-guide.biz