South of Trafalgar Square is a long road called Whitehall. Most of the buildings in this road are government offices.
There are two soldiers on horses outside Horse Guards Parade. Walk down the road to Parliament Square, and you go past Downing Street. It is not a long street. The Prime Minister - the head of the British Government -lives at 10 Downing Street.
In 1682, Sir George Downing built the street of houses near Whitehall Palace. There are only four houses here today, but they are very different now. King George the Second gave Number 10 to Sir Robert Walpole in 1735, and British Prime Ministers began to live in 10 Downing Street from that time.
After Whitehall comes Parliament Street and then Parliament Square, with its tall trees and its statue of Sir Winston Churchill. Churchill was Britain's Prime Minister at the time of the Second World War.
Next comes St Margaret's Street with Westminster Abbey and, across the street, the Houses of Parliament.
Westminster Abbey is London's oldest and perhaps most famous church. English kings and queens always have their coronations here - from the time of William the Conqueror in 1066 to today in the twenty-first century. Queen Elizabeth the Second had her coronation here in 1953. Thousands of people watched it in the Abbey, and millions more watched it on television - this was the first coronation on television.
The Houses of Parliament is the home of the British government. The clock high up on the building is called Big Ben, but really Big Ben is the bell in the clock. You can hear Big Ben ring every hour. Four smaller bells ring on the quarter-hours.
In 1605 there was a man called Guy Fawkes. He and his friends did not like King James or his government, and they put a bomb under the Houses of Parliament. But nothing happened, because soldiers found Guy Fawkes and took him away. Now, British people celebrate this every year on 5 November with big fires and fireworks, and they often burn a figure of Guy Fawkes on the fire.
By the river
You cannot see London without a visit to the River Thames. You can walk along the river, go across its many bridges, or go in a boat and see London from the river.
The first Globe Theatre was built at the time of Queen Elizabeth the First. People watched William Shakespeare's plays there. In 1997, a new Shakespeare's Globe Theatre opened, next to the River Thames. In the summer, you can visit the theatre and see Shakespeare's plays. Under the theatre is Shakespeare's Globe Exhibition. Here you can learn more about the work of England's most famous writer and the old and new Globe theatres.
Not far away is Tate Modern, an art gallery with 88 rooms of twentieth and twenty-first century art. The exhibitions change, so there is always something new. There are paintings by Matisse, Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and many more.
The Millennium Bridge is London's newest bridge - the first for 100 years. It goes across the river from outside Tate Modern. When it opened in the year 2000, hundreds of people walked across it — and it began to move under their feet! It was not open again for two years. People like walking across the bridge because there are good views of London and the river, and because there are no cars on the bridge.
Then there is the London Eye, a big wheel 135 metres high. It was built in 2000 and celebrates the Millennium. It never stops moving, but it moves very slowly. Visitors travel in the capsules on the wheel for 30 minutes, and when the weather is good, you can see for 40 kilometres across London. There are wonderful views of Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and other famous buildings and parks in the city. Everybody loves going up in the London Eye.
Canary Wharf opened in 1991. It has three towers. The tower at One Canada Square is 240 metres high, and it is the tallest office building in Britain. You can go to Canary Wharf on the Docklands Light Railway, or take the Jubilee Line train to Canary Wharf Station. You can also get there by boat. Visit the shops and restaurants, listen to music or watch theatre in the street, or visit the Museum in Docklands. In its twelve galleries you can learn about London's docks from the time of the Romans to now.
There were bad floods in London in 1663 and 1928. Then, in 1953, more than 300 people died in a flood near the River Thames and in the east of England. So the Thames Barrier was built next to the Royal Victoria Dock. It opened in 1984, cost more than 400 million pounds, and is 520 metres long. When the sea is very high, the ten big gates on the barrier come up and stop the water. There is a visitor centre on the south side of the river, and you can see a video about the barrier there. The nearest train station is Charlton, but for the best view of the barrier take a boat from Greenwich.
Parks and gardens
When you are tired of buildings, you can visit one of London's many beautiful parks.
Hyde Park first opened to the people of London in the seventeenth century. It is not far from the shops of busy Oxford Street, but it is nice and quiet. You can walk or sit under the trees. In the centre is a lake called the Serpentine, and you can take a boat out on the water.
There are usually a lot or people at Speaker s Corner, near Marble Arch. Some people come here because they want to tell the world important or interesting things -about the government, or science, or the church, or the end of the world. They stand at the Corner, and call out to all the people around them. Other people stand and listen, and sometimes laugh too.
Kensington Gardens is next to Hyde Park. Here you can see a statue of Peter Pan, the famous boy in the book Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie. There is also a playground here, called the Diana, Princess of Wales playground. Many people want to remember Princess Diana. She lived near here in Kensington Palace, and the playground has lots of exciting things for children.
Regent's Park is the home of London Zoo. The zoo opened in 1828, and it has animals and birds from all over the world. There is also a theatre in the park. On a summer's evening, you can sit out and watch a play by
Shakespeare. Or you can see the park from the water - take a boat along the canal from Camden Lock to Little Venice. In the summer, you can listen to music in the park.
St James's Park is next to the Mall. It is a small park, but very beautiful, and it is the oldest of the royal parks. Lots of birds live on and around the lake in the centre of the park.