The following article will attempt to look into a few of the many landmarks in and around the city of London. Some of these are well known, and some not so well known. While residents will be familiar with these, not all visitors will be as familiar or have an idea of the history housed within these great structures.
With several thousand years of history under its belt, Many London Buildings and monuments have become important landmarks over the years by virtue of their age and centuries of day to day events by their famous and often royal occupants. Some of the most well known are recognized by most people in the world, but some of the stories behind them may not be as well known.
We’re beginning with some of the more well known landmarks such as Big Ben and The Palace of Westminster. This one is universally recognized by many people outside of London, but not all are aware that Parliament is housed there, its history as a royal palace, or that fire and bombing raids have caused changes to it over the centuries.
Tours are available while Parliament is in session to both citizens of the U.K. and non-citizens. Some of the traditions from centuries gone by can still be seen here. A new Speaker of the House of Commons is physically dragged to the chair by other Members of Parliament upon election. It seems that when the House of Lords didn’t care for a Speaker from the House of Commons in simpler times, they didn’t keep their jobs, or their heads very long. On one particularly busy day, two speakers were beheaded. They don’t behead so much anymore, and the two house system of checks and balances now solves disagreement through debate. The House of Commons Chamber was destroyed by a bombing raid in 1941 and was rebuilt as five floors, and reoccupied in 1950.
Big Ben was incorporated into the design of the building after a fire in 1834, and after the first bell cracked upon testing, a second bell was pulled up the belfry it was finally sounded for the first time in July of 1859. This bell also soon cracked, and the crack was rotated away from the hammer as it sits today, rather than recast a new bell.
Buckingham Palace is another widely recognized landmark, and is a must see for visitors to London. Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the Queen, and the headquarters for the Royal Family as it has been since the late 1700’s. The palace is located in the Westminster District. Easily reached by public transportation Buckingham Palace is one of the most visited landmarks in London.
Visitors can see the staterooms during the annual summer opening in August and September. There you will see priceless paintings by the masters, fantastic sculptures and some of the finest furniture on earth. Or you can see the Changing of the Guard which is also quite popular.