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The National Gallery is a magnificent Georgian edifice on the northern side of Trafalgar Square that houses a massive collection of Western European art. Started in 1838, you can find the works of master Leonardo Da Vinci in the Sainsbury wing of the gallery, alongside Botticelli and Bellini. The west wing contains works by Titian, Michelangelo and Raphael, the north wing contains works by Rubens, Rembrandt and Caravaggio, and the east wing contains works by Seurat, Canaletto, Degas and Monet. A portable audio guide is available in six different languages.
This area was formerly home to London's fruit and vegetable market, which moved down to the New Covent Garden Market in Bermondsey. Today, it is a collection of stores that sell a variety of goods, from antiques and crafts to pictures and handmade clothing. There's also an open-air cobbled area where miming and juggling acts can often be found. Musicians regularly play in the pretty courtyards around the market stalls. There are also a few places to eat lunch or grab an ice cream.
Known as both the London Eye and the Millennium Wheel, this huge 137-meter (450-foot) Ferris wheel on the South Bank gives a fabulous bird's eye view of London, if your stomach is strong enough. Its inception, at the turn of the 21st Century, conferred upon it the name Millennium. The spectacular views stretch for 40 kilometers (25 miles) on a clear day to include views of Windsor. Up to 25 people can fit in each of the wheel's “capsules.” The wheel turns surprisingly slowly-it takes 30 minutes to go around, so there's plenty of time to spot landmarks and take photos. Hours vary by season.
Westminster Abbey is regarded as a Gothic architectural masterpiece. It has been the venue for most of the country's coronations and for numerous other royal occasions. At present, it is still a church dedicated to regular worship and to the celebration of great events in the nation. Westminster Abbey features the final resting places or commemorations of a large number of famous poets, scientists, musicians, artists, authors, scientists and more. It is one of London's most visited attractions. On Sundays it is open only for worship.
Buckingham Palace has been the official residence of British royalty since 1837. The forecourt is the setting for one of London's most popular tourist events, The Changing of the Guard. The Mews are working stables, where you can see the Queen's horses and state carriages. The Buckingham Palace state rooms are only open during certain days in August and September. Just outside the front of the palace, you can enjoy the Queen Victoria Memorial Gardens and the Victoria Memorial, a striking and impressive sculpture facing the Mall.
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 Revivalist structure was built during the 19th Century. The collection expanded massively during the heyday of the British Empire, leading to the museum's notoriety for plundering sources all over the globe and leaving it with over 6.5 million objects to look after. The displays cover about 5.5 hectares (14 acres) and it is simply too tiring to tackle them all in one visit. The best way is to pick a collection or exhibition that interests you, explore that, and make return visits. And if you haven't got time for a proper visit, drop in for a coffee at the lovely Court Restaurant. Admission is free but charges may apply for temporary exhibitions.
Opened in 2000, this gallery has amazed industry insiders, art lovers and tourists. The museum, located among the drab, concrete blocks of Bankside, has incorporated a few of its original features from when it was a power station. Inside, there are many innovative and attention-grabbing works, a variety ranging from 1900 to the present, from the most important artists of the century, to today's rising stars. Admission is free, but a donation is appreciated. It's a must-see when visiting London.
With a history dating back to the 1500s, Hyde Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in central London. On the north-east side of the park is Speakers' Corner, a traditional haven of free speech. The Serpentine Lido (a designated swimming area of the Serpentine Lake) and the Serpentine Gallery are famous tourist spots. Many visitors to the park choose to see the Isis statue or to sunbathe near Diana Fountain. There is also a memorial site near the south-east corner of the park that pay homage to the victims of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. Head a little more south, and you will find yourself in the midst of the Rose Garden between Serpentine Road and Rotten Row. If you feel like fitting some activity into your visit, head on over to the Hyde Park Tennis and Sports Centre, which is open to all. Overall, it's a fantastic place to spend the day and a must-visit during your sojourn in London.
The Victoria and Albert Museum celebrates the rich culture of a bygone era. It includes around 4.5 million objects including ceramics, fashion, furniture, glass, metalwork, paintings, photographs, prints, sculpture and textiles. Collections from as far as East Asia, South and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Egypt are housed in the V&A Museum. One can explore the world's most comprehensive holding of post-classical European sculpture. The museum frequently holds exhibitions of its collections. And what's more, you could even shop for books, stationery, gifts and jewelry at the museum. After working up an appetite, head to the V&A Cafe for a bite.
900 years of history are embraced within the thick, turreted walls of the Tower of London. Though the dark days of yore are long gone, an aura of death and medieval torture remains. The main attractions for most visitors are the breathtaking Crown Jewels. Also a tourist draw are the ravens; according to folklore, if they ever leave, the British crown will crumble, her empire along with it. Founded in 1066, William the Conqueror built the majestic White Tower that still rises above the Thames. Tours given by the Yeoman Warders shed light on the Tower's fascinating and often macabre history.
Explore the natural history of the planet Earth, from the prehistoric era to the present day, at one of London's most visited museums. In 1881, the Natural History Museum moved to its present venue. Designed by Alfred Waterhouse, this building is now one of London's most beautiful and recognized museums. The halls house more than 300 years worth of collections, with over 68 million specimens. Broadly divided into Life and Earth galleries, the museum provides much more than can be seen in a day, and your feet will get tired before your brain does. Let your kids run wild among dinosaur skeletons, erupting volcanoes and life size constructs of blue whales - it's unlikely they'll ever forget their first visit here.
One of the best locations for a day outing with the family, Paradise Wildlife Park is among the first interactive wildlife parks of its kind in the United Kingdom. Home to more than 400 animals, what sets this park apart from the regular zoos and sanctuaries is that it provides an opportunity for interaction with animals of all kinds, which includes feeding the wild ones and penguins. Not only this, the wildlife park, which came about during the 1960s, also comprises of an indoor play area for kids as well as outdoor attractions like Safari Adventure Golf, Fantasyland and an amusement park for one and all. Entertaining daily shows like the Animal Olympics Show, Weird and Wonderful Show and Creepy Creatures Show are some of the other attractions that are favorite among kids. Operated by the Sampson Family, the Paradise Wildlife Park is open to visitors throughout the year.