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The British Museum is one of London's top tourist attractions, as well as a major scholarly resource. Its collection was bequeathed to the nation in 1753, and the museum's distinctive Greek Revival structure was constructed during the 19th Century. The collection expanded massively during the heyday of the British Empire, leading to the museum's reputation for acquiring from sources all over the globe, leaving it with over 8 million objects. The displays cover about 5.5 hectares (14 acres) making it impossible to see everything in one visit. The famous Rosetta Stone, Assyrian Reliefs, Parthenon Marbles and the vast Egyptian collection are a few of the British Museum's most well-known exhibits.
Known as both the London Eye or the Millennium Wheel, this huge 137-meter (450-foot) Ferris wheel on the South Bank gives a fabulous bird's eye view of London. The spectacular views from the top stretch as far as 40 kilometers (25 miles) in every direction on a clear day to include views of Windsor. Its inception at the turn of the 21st Century conferred upon it the title of 'the Millennium Wheel', symbolic of the progress made thus far and the promise of a glorious future. The London Eye has since come to be an icon of the city skyline, renowned as the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel and one of the city's highest observation points. Each of the glass-encased pods of the London Eye can transport up to 25 passengers around its 120-meter(394-foot) diameter at a leisurely pace, a circuit that takes close to 30 minutes to complete. For the duration of the ride, the city and its many attractions lie sprawled all around for a glimpse of London's girth in a single sweep.
Designed by Sir Horace Jones and opened in 1894, Tower Bridge is one of London's most recognizable landmarks. This famous monument is built on the River Thames and overlooks the iconic Tower of London. Due to the volume of river traffic in the 19th Century, the Tower Bridge was designed to have twin bascules that could be raised. One of the most fascinating features of the bridge is the Victorian-era engine room that houses the coal-powered motors used to raise the bridge lifts. The two towers, the North Tower and South Tower, are open to visitors. There is a glass-covered enclosed walkway that runs between the two that offers a bird's-eye view of vibrant city life.
900 years of history is enshrined within the thick, turreted walls of the Tower of London. Originally built as a stronghold by William the Conqueror in 1066, the Tower of London was expanded over the years by various monarchs. Its most distinctive feature is also its oldest, the White Tower which dates back to 1078 by William the Conqueror as a symbol of the Norman supremacy. Although variously used as a royal residence, armory and mint, the Tower of London is best known for its stint as a prison and the site of numerous executions, most notably of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard. Elizabeth I, Sir Walter Raleigh and Prince Edward V are a few of the other famous personalities who were imprisoned here. Stories of treason, conspiracy and espionage are rife amid these historic walls, with countless secrets just waiting to be uncovered. Another curious feature is the ravens here, that are said to safeguard the British Crown. Today, the Tower of London is a museum and the home of the fabulous Crown Jewels. Tours of the castle are led by the Yeomen Warders, also famously dubbed as the Beefeaters.
To the west of the Palace of Westminster, this superbly striking piece of Early English Gothic architecture enthralls one and all with its 700-year-old history and its immediate association with British Royalty. First built by King Edward the Confessor between 1042 and 1052 as St Peter's Abbey, the church was meant to serve as a royal burial site for himself and all regal heirs that followed. Quickly, this originally Romanesque church also became the site where coronations and royal weddings took place, thus going on to become one of the most significant religious buildings for British monarchs. While the abbey held the status of a cathedral for several years in the 16th Century, it was soon designated the title of a 'royal peculiar' or a church that is directly governed by the crown, in the later years. The abbey, with its majestic ivory turrets that aim for the sky, dramatic buttresses that line the southern facade and the Norman-style nave that sits between the two towers stands as one of London's most astonishing royal landmarks today.
One of Central London's most iconic green spaces, every blade of grass at Hyde Park is drenched in history dating back to the early 1600s. Laden with a myriad of historic spots, the park's prime attractions include the symbolic Speakers' Corner, the restful Serpentine Lido swimming area, and the famous Serpentine Gallery. It is also bedecked by stunning sights such as the Isis statue and the Diana Fountain. Nature lovers can head toward Hyde's southern frontier to find themselves in the midst of blissful Rose Gardens. A fantastic place to spend the day, Hyde Park is a must-visit during a sojourn in London.
Referring both to the famous tower that forms the north end of the Palace of Westminster, as well as the iconic clock built into its face, the Elizabeth Tower or Big Ben as it is popularly referred to, is deemed as one of the most prolific timekeeping devices of the 19th Century. This hugely exalted monument was constructed when the old Palace of Westminster was ravaged by a fire in 1834, sparking the need for a newer structure. It was then that English architect Augustus Pugin's spectacular design for the tower found fruition, an imposing Gothic Revival structure that would go on to become one of the most striking icons of the British empire. Towering over 315 feet (96 meters), the Big Ben is a brilliant blend of sand-colored Anston limestone that dominates its lower half and a cast-iron spire that pierces the city's ashen skies. Its impressive timekeeping mechanism weighs in at over 5 tons, and the pendulum, which beats once every two seconds, weighs 203 kilograms (447.53 pounds). While this imposing structure can be admired from a distance by overseas visitors, only residents are privy to the internal depths of the tower.
The grand and stately Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of the British monarch since 1837. Although the origins of the palace go back to the 18th Century when the Duke of Buckingham built his townhouse at the site, the palace as it stands today is principally the work of architects John Nash and Edward Blore. The palace holds 775 rooms, lavishly decorated with Sevres Porcelain and fine art by the likes of Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Dyck. From the cream and gold palette of the Belle Epoque to the intricacies of the Chinese Regency, each room is a showcase of extravagant yet tasteful interior design. The Grand Staircase is perhaps one of the world's finest examples of bronze casting, illuminated by an etched glass dome and the focal point of the palace, while the forecourt is the setting for one of London's most popular tourist events - the Changing of the Guard. The Royal Mews and the Queen's Gallery are other popular features of this royal residence that are also open to visitors. All of this is surrounded by manicured lawns and lush gardens alive with myriad blooms in summer, painting a picture of grandeur befitting Britain's royal family.
Trafalgar Square embraces the past and the present of the city in a single sweep, forming the vibrant core of Westminster. The public square hosts a lively milieu of events throughout the year and features the magnificent National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery along its hem. Trafalgar Square was named thus to commemorate the Battle of Trafalgar of 1805, an event that marks the fall of the French naval fleet, securing Britain from invasion. A column with a statue of Admiral Horatio Nelson at the summit is the centerpiece of the square, honoring the man responsible for this momentous victory. At the base of the column is the renowned Landseer Lions, flanked by babbling fountains. Renovations in 2003 removed traffic lanes to make room for a sizable staircase, connecting the National Portrait Gallery to the square. A beating heart of the neighborhood, Trafalgar Square is forever bustling with tourists making their way to the galleries and locals passing through.
The famous Madame Tussauds wax museum, started by Madame Tussaud in 1835, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in London and is abuzz with tourists from across the globe. From global political leaders and sports personalities to your favorite film and television personalities, extremely lookalike wax statues of all the celebrities can be found inside this iconic museum. Get your pictures clicked with wax statue of your favorite celebrity and admire the minute detailing of the same while at Madame Tussauds.