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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
One of London's noteworthy Anglican churches, St Martin-in-the-Fields is the parish to Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. Redesigned by James Gibbs in 1726, its Georgian architecture has been an inspiration the world over. The intricate citadel towers over Trafalgar Square and the structure boasts beautiful woodwork and Italian carvings. Located in the heart of the capital, the venue prides itself on hosting some of the best music events in history. From 18th Century classical acts by Mozart to weekly jazz nights by emerging artists, the space has seen it all. With state-of-the-art acoustics and magnificent backdrop to its credit, experience world-class entertainment.
Built in the early 1700s and retaining most of its original characteristics, this beautifully restored Georgian building is the only surviving residence of Benjamin Franklin. Serving as his home during the 16 years he spent in London as a mediator, it is essentially the first U.S. embassy. Designed to be a historical experience, the Benjamin Franklin house is now a museum and educational institution. State of the art lighting and projection technology recreate the fascinating life and discoveries of this politician, inventor, scientist, and philosopher, while the Student Science Centre offers a hands on look at Franklin's London based discoveries. Opened on Ben's 300th birthday in 2006 and just steps from Trafalgar Square, this is a wonderful variation from traditional museums and well worth the stop.
If a Thames voyage is on your London itinerary then book your tickets with Thames RIB Experience for an exhilarating and fun-filled speedboat tour. The digital personal assistant will keep you informed as you pass by the attractions and landmarks. The booking office and boarding station are only a few steps away from the Embankment subway station and are open all year round.
Fun London Tours is just that - fun! Take a walking tour based around a theme and learn all about this exciting piece of London. Fun London Tours provides a lot of great tour options. Book a spot on the Changing the Guard Tour where you can see the entire changing of the guard and even walk along with the band. If you enjoy interactive tours perfect for the whole family go on the Liar Liar London tour where at each spot your guide will tell you two truths and one lie, proving that sometimes the truth is stranger then fiction. You can also book a private tour with them.
Move over Broadway. The Shaftesbury Avenue of London certainly gives that famous New York City street a run for its money. Plays and musicals draw theater-goers from all over England. The avenue was created to improve London traffic conditions and is now home to notable venues and Shaftesbury theaters.