London is the main tourist attraction of the country. There are a lot of places of interest in London, which attract thousands of tourists every year. They usually want to see Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the London Bridge, the Tower of London and other sightseeing.
Westminster Abbey. Westminster is now the political centre of London. In the 11-th century king Edward the Confessor decided to build a great Abbey church there. Westminster Abbey was built in 1065 and later rebuilt. William the Conqueror was crowned there and since then all the coronations have taken place in the Abbey for over 600 years.
There are many royal tombs in the Abbey and memorials to famous men and women. The most popular ones are those to writers, poets and musicians in the Poet’s corner. Here are the memorials to Queen Elizabeth I, King George II; scientists: Sir Isaac Newton, Darwin; writers: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Burns, Dickens, Kiplling and other leading persons. Here too is that touching symbol of a nation’s grief – The Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
The Houses of Parliament. During the reign of Edward the Confessor the Palace of Westminster was built too. It was the royal residence and also the country’s main court. The Parliament met here since the 16-th till the 19-th century. The present Houses of Parliament were built after the fire in the Palace of Westminster in 1834. It is also called the Palace of Westminster because the kings of England lived there for many centuries.
Houses of Parliament are situated on the left bank of the Thames. It’s the seat of the British Parliament. The Houses of Parliament have two towers. The first is the Clock Tower “Big Ben” from which all people in Britain take time. Another is the Victoria Tower with flag on the top.
Big Ben. It is the name of clock and the bell in the clock tower. Its length is 320 feet. Big Ben got its name after Sir Benjamin Hall. He was a tall man, whose nickname was Big Ben. You can hear Big Ben chime every hour.
Trafalgar Square. Some people say it is the most beautiful place in London. It was named in commemoration of Nelson’s great victory of 1805 over Napoleon. In the middle stands the famous Nelson Column with the statue of Admiral Nelson 170 feet high. Four bronze lions look at the square from the monument. The column stands in the geographical centre of the city. There are also two beautiful fountains in the square.
Buckingham Palace. Buckingham Palace is a Royal residence. It was built in the 18-th century and rebuilt in the 19-th century by the architect John Nash. But it was Duke of Buckingham who bought the house and from whom Palace took its name. Queen Victoria was the first to make the Palace her official residence. Now it is the official home of Queen Elizabeth and the British Royal Family. When the queen is at home there is the Queen’s flag flying over it. Buckingham Palace is like a small town with a police station, two post offices, a hospital, a bar, two sport clubs, a disco, a cinema and a swimming pool. There are nearly six hundred rooms in the Palace. About 700 people work for the Palace.
Thousands of tourists from all over the world come to Buckingham Palace every day to see the traditional ceremony of Changing the Guards. The Guardsmen in their redcoats and bearskin caps exchange duty and march behind the band. In front of the Palace there is the beautiful Queen Victoria Memorial.
The Tower of London. The Tower of London is the oldest historical monument in the British capital. It is the group of buildings on the north bank of the River Thames. The White Tower is the oldest part of the Tower of London. The Bloody Tower is the most infamous. William the Conqueror decided to build a strong fortress to protect the city. For many centuries the Tower was a place for Kings and Queens, an observatory, an arsenal, a King’s Zoo, a mint, and one of the most terrible prison in the world. The Tower of London tells of the many terrible and cruel events in the history of England. Now it is a museum of armour and the place where the Crown Jewels are kept. There are also a lot of black ravens in the Tower of London. People keep them and look after them very well as they believe that London will be rich as ravens live there.
St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s Cathedral is a masterpiece of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren. It took him 35 years to build this building. But in 1666 it was destroyed, it was a year of the Fire of London. Then the architects rebuilt it between 1675 and 1710. Now it is a building with many columns and towers.
From far away you can see its huge dome with a golden ball on the top. The Cathedral is full of monuments. There is the Whispering Gallery there, which runs round the dome. Many outstanding people are buried in the Cathedral: Nelson, Wellington, Wren and others. In one of its towers there is one of the largest bells in the world.
Other places of interest. London is noted for its museums and art galleries. Among them are the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, the Museum of Moving Image, Madame Tussah’s Museum and many others. Also there are a great number of theatres, cinemas. There are over 50 theatres in London counting out small theatres. The most famous are National Theatre and the Barbican, National Youth Theatre and National Theatre Company. Also many bridges cross the river Thames and regulate impressive traffic of the port of London. The best known bridge is the Tower Bridge. It is situated near the Tower of London. It was built in 1894.