Tourist Attractions in London
London is full of tourist attractions, from centuries-old historic sites like the Tower of London to twenty-first century wonders like the London Eye. Here is a selection of the best.
Westminster Abbey is over 700 years old. It is still a working church and services are held every day. The British monarchy has used it for coronations, weddings and burials since 1066. Visitors can see the coronation throne, King Edward’s Chair, and the tombs of kings, queens and many famous Englishmen, including Geoffrey Chaucer, Isaac Newton and Charles Dickens. There is also a shrine to St Edward the Confessor, builder of the original abbey.
The London Eye
Officially called the EDF Energy London Eye, this huge observation wheel stands in the Jubilee Gardens on the South Bank of the Thames. Opened in the year 2000, and originally called the Millennium Wheel, a trip in one of its slowly-revolving capsules is one of the most popular things to do on days out in London. The wheel takes about 35 minutes to rotate, giving passengers ample time to enjoy views over London. These can stretch for 25 miles on a clear day. New for 2012 are interactive, touchscreen devices to provide information on the landmarks that can be seen from above.
The Tower of London
The Tower of London is a castle on the north bank of the Thames, to the east of the City of London. It was founded in 1066, after the Norman Conquest of England. The central part of the castle, the White Tower, gives the site its name. Expansion took place over the years, and today the castle complex covers nearly 12 acres and has three wards. The Tower of London is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and contains numerous things to do and see. The Crown Jewels can be viewed in the Jewel House, there is a Royal Mint museum, and the Yeoman Warders, with their historic uniforms, give fascinating guided tours.
The Tower of London once housed a royal menagerie, which was moved to London Zoo in the early Victorian era. Established in 1828, the zoo was located in Regent’s Park, and is the oldest scientific zoo in the world. Although threatened with closure in the Eighties, today the zoo is one of the most popular attractions in London and is home to over 750 species of animals. Along with historic buildings like the Reptile House, the Aquarium and the Snowdon Aviary, many new areas continue to be introduced, such as Penguin Beach, which opened in 2011, and the Sumatran tiger enclosure, Tiger Territory, which opened in 2013.
The British Museum
Many tourists include a visit to the British Museum on their days out in London, and often plan to see everything in one visit. They rarely succeed, as it is one of the largest museums in the world, with over eight million artefacts. Some of the museum’s highlights are the Parthenon Sculptures, also called the Elgin Marbles; the vast head of Ramses II; the Egyptian Mummies; the Rosetta Stone and the Viking collection. Visitors should also visit the historic high-domed Reading Room, and the beautiful, airy Great Court.
One of the most visited attractions in London, Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the Queen. Fortunate visitors may catch a glimpse of her, leaving or returning in a limousine or carriage, but the pageantry of the Changing of the Guard is guaranteed. This takes place daily, and is a chance to see historic traditions that have lasted centuries. Parts of Buckingham Palace are open to the public during the summer months.
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