From the Big Ben to the London Eye; the Royal Observatory to the British Museum – London, the capital of England boasts of a rich heritage. If you plan on visiting this place anytime soon, there are a few ‘must-visit’s that you should know of.
20. Monument to the Great Fire of London
After midnight on September 2nd, 1666, a fire broke out in the Farriner bakery on Pudding Lane. It evolved into a blazing inferno and consumed thousands of houses, eighty-seven Parish Churches. Not even St. Paul’s Cathedral survived the wrath of the flames. The Great Fire raged for five days.
To commemorate the loss of London and its citizens, the Monument was erected where the Farriner Bakery once stood. Built from stone, it looms ominous over its surroundings, a grim reminder of the city’s past. The top is adorned by a copper urn in the shape of a flaming orb and on its sides are inscriptions describing how the fire started, the damage it caused and how it was finally tamed.
It stands in memory of the people who perished and as a tribute to the brave citizens who helped extinguish the fire.
Address: Fish St Hill, London EC3R 8AH, United Kingdom.
19. National Portrait Gallery
The first of its kind, this portrait gallery opened in 1856 and since then has continued to awe the visitors who flock here every day. The National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is an art gallery in London housing a collection of portraits of famous British people. The gallery moved to its current site in 1896 at St.Martin’s Place. The National Portrait Gallery also has three regional outposts at Beningbrough Hall, Bodelwyddan Castle and Montacute House. The criterion for selection of the portraits depends not upon the fame of the artists themselves, but upon the fame of the subject of the painting. Chandos’ portrait of William Shakespeare was the first painting to enter this one of a kind gallery. Not all the portraits you see here are of exceptional artistic brilliance. But if you are a curious fellow, then you will be intrigued by the portraits.
Address: St. Martin’s Pl, London WC2H 0HE, United Kingdom.
18. Royal Observatory, Greenwich
Remember all those geography periods spent learning about the Prime Meridian? Well, if you ever harboured doubt over its authenticity, you ought to visit the Royal Observatory of Greenwich and have a look at it. The Prime Meridian was established by Sir George Airy in 1851. By1884, over two-thirds of all ships and tonnage used it as the reference meridian on their charts and maps. The site where the Royal Observatory stands was chosen by none other than Sir Christopher Wren (architect of the Monument). In the first half of the 20th century the scientific work of the observatory was moved elsewhere and the Greenwich site is now maintained as a museum.
Address: Blackheath Ave, London SE10 8XJ, United Kingdom.
17. National Maritime Museums
Have you watched the film, Titanic and had the urge to know how such gargantuan sea-faring structures were made? Visit the National Maritime Museum at Park Row, Greenwich and you will find your answer. Arguably the largest of its kind, the Museum houses ten galleries and a collection of artworks, maps, charts and other memorabilia. If you wish to quench your thirst for nautical knowledge, this is the place to be.
Address: Park Row, Greenwich, London SE10 9NF, United Kingdom.
16. Churchill War Rooms
Visit the secret World War II bunker and museum that tells the story of Winston Churchill’s life and legacy. The Churchill War Rooms are part of a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout World War II. The hauntingly beautiful architecture will leave you captivated and enthralled. Yet all the while, a feeling of uneasiness will sit heavy on your shoulders. You will know that these were the very rooms where government officials resided in, while above them, the German Blitzkrieg burnt London to the ground.
Address: Clive Steps, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AQ, United Kingdom.
15. London Dungeon
The London Dungeon is one of the capital’s signature attractions – delighting audiences for almost 40 years. It’s a 90-minute journey through a millennia of London’s murky past. You will have the chance to get up close and personal with sinister characters like Jack the Ripper and Sweeney Todd. On your journey you will pass through the Whitechapel Labyrinth of misty East London streets, plague-ravaged houses and the fearsome torture chambers! You may even get to experience what would have happened had Guy Fawkes succeeded!
The fifth of November . . .”
Address: Riverside Building, County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, City of London, Greater London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
- British Museum
Established in 1753, this museum is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. It contains over 8 million works from all over the world illustrating and documenting the story of human society from its inception to the present day.
If you wish to spend a day in search of enlightenment about history and culture, we highly recommend you spend it at the British Museum.
Address: Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom.
- Tower of London
From the Crown Jewels to the infamous Tower Ravens, experience the history first hand at the Tower of London. It is a historic castle located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London. The massive White Tower is testimony to Norman military architecture. It was built on the Thames by William the Conqueror to protect London and assert his power. The entry fees lean a bit on the expensive side, but remember how a wise person once said ‘All good things in life are free.’?
He (or she) lied.
This visit is worth every penny.
Address: London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom.
- Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square, the largest square in London, is often considered the heart of the city. It is home to Admiral Nelson’s Column, iconic stone lions, the famous Fourth Plinth and a lot of pigeons.
Its name commemorates the Battle of Trafalgar, a British naval victory in the Napoleonic Wars against the combined forces of the French fleet and the Spanish armada. Trafalgar Square is a centre of national democracy and protest. Rallies and demonstrations are frequently held at weekends on different political, religious and general issues.
If you want to get the true flavour of present day London and its people Trafalgar Square should be a must visit.
Address: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN, United Kingdom
- Globe Theatre
William Shakespeare’s playing company ‘Lord Chamberlain’s Men’ built the Globe Theatre in 1599. Unfortunately the Globe Theatre was destroyed in a fire on 29th June, 1613. A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site by June 1614 and closed by an Ordinance issued on 6 September 1642. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997. If you are a keen follower of the Great Bard’s work, and want to experience his literary exploits through the medium of theatre, you wouldn’t miss the Globe for the world.
Address: 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT, United Kingdom.
- Hyde Park
Hyde Park is the largest of the four parks which form a chain from the entrance of Kenningston Palace to Kenningston Gardens. It is one of the greatest city parks in the world. Covering 142 hectares (350 acres) and with over 4,000 trees, a large lake, a meadow and ornamental flower gardens, there’s a good chance you’ll forget you are right in the centre of the cosmopolitan English capital.
Hyde Park has something for everyone. You can enjoy swimming, boating, cycling and skating. There are pitches for team games, tennis courts, tracks for horse riding and a spectacular children’s playground.
The Park has two lakeside restaurants which are licensed and serve everything from a three-course meal to a quick cup of coffee. Hyde Park is home to a number of fascinating buildings and monuments, such as The Serpentine Bridge, the Joy of Life fountain and the famous Achilles statue.
If you’re out and about on Sunday, head to Speaker’s Corner to hear London’s most vocal orators share their opinions with the world.
Address: London, United Kingdom.
- Piccadilly Circus
Quite counter-intuitively, Piccadilly Circus is not actually a circus but a road junction and a public space of London’s West End in Westminster. It was built in 1819 to connect Regent Street and Piccadilly. One may say that Piccadilly Circus is simply ‘famous for being famous’. But nonetheless, there is a distinct charm to the neon-illuminated, billboard-adorned premises, which oddly resembles the lovechild of British patrician architecture and a cyber-punk movie from the 70s.Address: London borough: City of Westminster
- Royal Albert Hall
If you are in London, catching a music performance in the Royal Albert Hall should be on top of your list. Since its opening by the Queen in 1871, people from various parts of the world have come here to listen to musical giants like Pink Floyd and Bob Dylan perform in the main auditorium. More than 390 shows are hosted each year. So be sure to catch one when you’re in London.
Address: Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP, United Kingdom
- Westminster Abbey
Formally titled the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster Abbey is a gothic abbey church in Westminster. One of the most religious buildings of London, it has been the traditional place of coronation and the burial site for British monarchs.
Famous scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin are buried here. And the gothic architecture is truly admirable, so you wouldn’t want to miss it.
Address: 20 Deans Yd, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom
- Madame Tussauds
Founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud, this is a chain of wax museums around the globe. However, the one in London was the first. This museum houses sculptures of famous personalities from all around the world. So, if you want to click selfies with your favourite celebrities (albeit, wax sculptures) all in one day, look no further than Madame Tussauds.
Address: Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LR, United Kingdom
- London Eye
Located on the South Bank of the River Thames, the London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel. At its highest point, one reaches a dizzying height of 135m, from where the entirety of London can be seen sprawling underneath. This is undoubtedly the most popular paid tourist attraction in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Address: London SE1 7PB, United Kingdom
- Big Ben
Contrary to popular belief, Big Ben is the name of the bell inside that big clock which chimes at regular intervals, not the big clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London. The tower is officially named ‘Elizabeth Tower’. This iconic structure has featured in several movies. If you see ‘Big Ben’, you know you’re in London.
Address: London SW1A 0AA, United Kingdom
- Buckingham Palace
This is the administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. The palace is often at the centre of state occasions and royal hospitality. It has been a focal point for the British people at times of national rejoicing. Queen Victoria was the first monarch to reside in the Buckingham Palace. This magnificent structure is intrinsic to the rich heritage of England.
Address: London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom
- St. Paul’s Cathedral
This Anglican Cathedral is perhaps the only iconic building to have survived the Second World War. This cathedral has housed the services of Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill. It is located on Ludgate Hill, the highest point of the city of London. The present day church was designed in the English Baroque style by none other than Sir Christopher Wren. St Paul’s Cathedral occupies a special place in the heart of every true Briton.
Address: St. Paul’s Churchyard, London EC4M 8AD, United Kingdom
- Tower bridge
To many foreigners, this suspension bridge spanning the breadth of the Thames, is the very essence of London. Since childhood, we have sung along to the tune of ‘London Bridge is Falling Down’ and it has evoked our interest ever since. If you are in London, there’s no doubt that this might be the first place you might be visiting.
Address: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, United Kingdom