Sights of London

London is the capital of the UK. In Europe, it is the second-largest metropolis with a population of more than 8 million people. London is considered to be one of the world's most important economic and financial centers.

The British capital can be called a huge exhibition center, where every building is an architectural monument. In London there are many existing museums.

Facts About London

Country
England
Currency
Pound sterling (GBP)
Language
English
Population
Greater London: 8,615,246 | Metro: 13,614,409 (2013)
Timezone
UTC (Summer - UTC+1)

Map of London Attractions

Top 19 Sights in London

British Museum

All the territory of the UK is amazing and mysterious, but London is something majestic. That is where you can find one of the largest historical and geological museums in the world. It is a well-known the British Museum. It was founded in 1753, but opened to the public only in the beginning of 1759. Since then, it has been the most popular attraction in London.

The museum's collection contains about seven million exhibits of the history of mankind from its very beginnings to the present day. The museum has a library, which was established by three book collections of great men: British naturalist and physician Hens Sloan, antiquarian Robert Cotton and Robert Harley Earl.

Entrance to the British Museum is free. But sometimes there are temporary special exhibitions. To enter them you need to buy a ticket. For fans of the virtual world, there is a special terminal in the museum. It will help you to make virtual tours, as well as plan routes on the exhibition halls, and learn more about any of the exhibits.

Museum is open seven days a week from 10 am to 17:30 pm. On Fridays the British Museum is open until 20:30.

Tower of London

Photo: Paul White

In England, in the heart of London on the River Thames, on the north side the tower stands. It is a great historical monument, known as the Tower of London. It was erected by William the Conqueror in 1078. But in the stories in his respect there are some differences: for example, there is a legend saying that the tower was built by the Romans. William Shakespeare himself in one of his plays wrote that it had been built by Julius Caesar.

The Tower itself is a fortress, which consists of several buildings surrounded by defensive walls and a moat. The height of the Tower is about 27 meters. Width of the walls is 4.5 meters at the base and 3.3 meters from the top.

During its existence, the Tower had many functions. It was used as a fortress, royal palace, prison, armor, observatory and even a zoo. Since 1303 the crown jewels of Britain have been keeping here. Nowadays it contains a unique collection of royal arms. The British have retained the traditional ceremony of giving the keys back to the gatekeepers when the Tower is closed in the evening.

Nowadays Tower is a historical reminder, the famous sights of London and the UK itself.

Buckingham Palace

Photo: Orin

Buckingham palace was built in 1703 for the Grand Duke of Buckingham. At that time it was one of the most beautiful buildings in London. In 1761 the palace was acquired by the English King George III, and was called a home to the Queen. This London site is located in Westminster. The Palace is used for official ceremonies, banquets and receptions. During public holidays there are many people here.

There is a huge garden, originally planted by Brown, on the territory of Buckingham Palace. There is also a beautiful artificial lake created in 1828. The Serpentine River is its source. 

There is an art collection of works by Rubens, Rembrandt and other famous artists. There is also a swimming pool, a cinema and a private post-office in the Palace. 

450 people work in Buckingham palace. The apartments are protected by court division. These guards are called Foot Guards and Horse Guards. In summer, thousands of tourists come here to watch the famous formal ceremony of Changing the Guard. It is held every day in summer, and every two days in the rest of seasons. It always starts at 11:30 a.m. This ceremony is very popular among tourists.

Westminster Abbey

The Catholic Church has always been very powerful and spent a lot of money for construction large churches and monasteries.

Westminster Abbey is a church which is well-known all over the world. Its huge area is stunning for people now. The church was founded in 1065. It was erected in the early Gothic style of architecture. For more than 600 years the coronation of the Kings of Great Britain had been taking place here. Their tombs are located in the Abbey. In the Middle Ages in the Abbey there were all kinds of celebrations related to various state affairs and royal families. There is the throne with the Stone of Scone (also called the Stone of Destiny) in the church. The throne was made of wood in 1300 for King Edward I.

Not only is the Abbey a place for peaceful praying, but it is also a gorgeous and important historical monument for future generations. The best builders, jewelers and artists worked hard to create the Abbey. Its silhouette is unique and recognizable. Its beautiful towers are connected by arches; numerous stained glass-windows are decorated with ornate paintings. 

If you want to see an astonishing and grandiose church, you should visit St. Peter’s Church. It’s pretty tall and it was built in 1745. It took 500 years to erect this temple.

St. Benedict’s Abbey was the basis of the Church. King Edgar wanted it to be built for monks. Churchmen took part in this reconstruction, such as preacher Edward, whose sepulcher is in the middle of St. Peter’s Church now, next to a massive altar. 

There are a lot of headstones in this church. Many famous figures, such as British monarchs, were buried here. Also there are the throne of King Edward I, the Stone of Destiny and religious icons of Russian painters in the Abbey.

Treasures and coffers were kept in Benedict’s Abbey up to the 13th century. A library replaced the treasury now days. Every tourist may visit this place; it is open Monday through Saturday. On the 9th of May 1945, when the II World War was over, worship took place here.

If you want to get some memorable impressions, visit this place during your trip to London. 

Victoria and Albert Museum

The museum was opened in 1852. Its foundation was inspired by the World Expo 1851. It was very successful. It gathered impressive revenue of 186,000 pounds. Originally the museum called Museum of products. But after supporting of the husband of Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, it was retitled by their name - Victoria and Albert Museum.

This is one of the biggest Museums of Applied Art in the world. It has 150 showrooms, which represent the greatest historical collections of all times. Even the building in which the museum is located has a great architectural value. The Victorian style with numerous frescoes, mosaics and paintings was used in its construction.

The museum's collections are constantly replenished with new exhibits. To increase the exhibition space the museum was reconstructed in 2003.

Many educational lectures for both children and adults are conducted in the museum. There is also a restaurant with the impressive decor. There are as well many historic halls which have not changed since the founding of the museum.

Hyde Park & Kensington Gardens

At the heart of the British capital there is a green area. It consists of several united parks called royal. Hyde Park is one of them. This area was a part of Westminster Abbey. Henry VIII, king of England, bought it from monks in 1536. After that, Hyde Park received the status of the Royal Park. One hundred years later, King Charles I separated it from the main body by the ring and made a place of recreation for residents of London. This event took place in 1637.

Today it is a place where everyone can relax and have a rest. It hosts all sorts of entertainment events. There are opportunities for active recreation. If you like open-air public speaking there is Speakers` Corner, located next to the Marble Arch. It once served as the entrance to Buckingham Palace.

There is a memorial dedicated to Princess Diana in the southern part of the park. She lived at Kensington Palace, surrounded by gardens which were named after the palace.

Kensington Gardens used to be a part of Hyde Park. Now it is an independent recreation area. From the place where Kensington Gardens meet Hyde Park there is a majestic view of both Buckingham and Kensington palaces, as well as St. James's Palace.

National Gallery

If we talk about the quality characteristic, the National Gallery in London can be compared only to the world greatest art museums such as the Louvre in Paris and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. If you take the number of world-famous masterpieces in relation to the total number of pictures in the collection, this gallery has no competitors.

Gallery started its existence as a private collection of paintings in the house of banker Julius Angerstein in 1824. In 1838, it moved to a new building constructed in Trafalgar Square.

Today it is a gallery, in which all known art schools of Europe are represented. According to its exposure you can fully explore the history of European art. Among the most popular ones are Italian school (Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Titian, Piero Della Francesca), and Dutch art school which is represented by the largest collection in Europe. Here you can see paintings by amazing Spanish artists (Goya, El Greco and Diego Velázquez).

The museum's collection grows and expands every day. The main suppliers of pictures here are sponsors. Various charities also help the museum very much. Presently, all the visitors are invited to enjoy about two thousand paintings of famous masters of the brush.

Imperial War Museum

One of the most visited museums in London is the Imperial War Museum. It exhibits military equipment, weapons, wartime photographs and paintings. All the showpieces represent the military conflicts, in which the United Kingdom was involved during the 20th century.

First of all, the museum was created in order to show the role of Britain in the First World War. It was called The National War Museum. It happened in 1917. But by the end of the year the museum was renamed into the Imperial.

The museum was opened in 1920 at the Crystal Palace. Several times it had to change its residence. Finally, it found himself in the building of the Royal Hospital. Here it can be found now.

At the beginning of the World War II activists began collecting materials about the museum. During the bombing in 1941 a German bomb fell on the museum. The building was partially destroyed. Exhibits also suffered very much. However, the museum was opened again after the end of the war.

Over time its mission expanded. Currently the Imperial War Museum does not only acquaint its guests with weapons and military equipment (from the beginning of the First World War to the present times). The museum exposition also helps people to get more information about modern warfare.

Churchill War Rooms

London Imperial War Museum has five branches, two of which are devoted to Churchill. These are Churchill`s bunker and Churchill Museum. They are united under the title of Churchill War Rooms.

This museum is located underground between Whitehall (name of the street on which the building of the British Parliament is located) and Westminster Abbey. From 1939 to 1945 there had been a secret command post headed by Churchill government. The museum completely renovates the location of the premises, and the situation at the time. All visitors can get acquainted with the original maps and books.

Later an access to the private rooms of Churchill and his wife was granted. You can see the things that he used, rare photos that show the everyday life and experiences, military chronicles.

All materials presented in the museum allow visitors learning more about the life and work of the British prime minister. The exposition also depicts his role in World War II, particularly in the defense of London.

Visitors may visit the stylized cafes and enjoy classic British national cuisine.

Tower Bridge

Across the River Thames, which stretches along the banks of the capital of the UK, the drawbridge is located. It is called the Tower. It is close to the Tower of London. The construction of the present landmark of London began in 1884. In eight years the building was completed.

The length of the bridge is 244 m, basis weight is 11,000 tones. Stone and granite from Portland was used for its construction. The magnitude and complexity of the Tower Bridge design is unique. On both sides it is crowned with 65-meter towers, connected by lifting wings. They are used for the passage of vessels.

We would like to tell you about two extraordinary events related to the bridge.

In 1912, Frank McClean flew a floatplane between the upper and lower parts of Tower Bridge. Taking into consideration the technical characteristics of aircraft of the time, it was an unprecedented event.

Another curious case took place when a city bus jumped from one side of the bridge to another. The driver saw the start of the bridge movement too late. Fortunately, the driver and the passengers received no injuries.

For those tourists who wish to explore the history of this blue and white building, the museum was opened.

Tate Modern

Tate Modern is a gallery of contemporary fine art. It is one of the most famous London attractions. It is located on the south bank of the River Thames.

The building of the gallery always makes the tourists exclaim surprisingly. The matter is that it was placed in another building previously. However, rapidly growing collections required more space. As a new repository for works of art an abandoned power station on the river was chosen, which has been empty since 1981. 100-meter pipe of the power plant was turned into a Tower, which later became the hallmark of the gallery. Tate Modern was opened in 2000. Since then, the museum with its eclectic collection of art has been enjoying a huge amount of daily visitors.

On several floors of the gallery there are masterpieces of the outstanding artists of the 20th century. In particular, on the 3rd floor there are works by Matisse, Monet. At the 5th there are paintings by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and Roy Lichtenstein. The 4th floor is usually given for temporary exhibitions.

Tate Modern art supports various art programs aimed at promoting the contemporary art.

St. Paul's Cathedral

An outstanding architectural monument, the Anglican St. Paul's Cathedral can be seen from almost anywhere in London. The cathedral is the permanent residence of the Bishop of London.

According to historians, this Christian shrine existed at this place since the conquest of the land by the Anglo-Saxons. During thousand-year history of the temple it was rebuilt several times. Modern building project was proposed by the architect Sir Christopher Wren. Construction was completed in 1708.

It is curious that a key element in the shape of the dome of the cathedral was not originally included in the project. There is a famous Whispering Gallery inside the doom. If you whisper a word here, it will be heard in the remotest part of the gallery. In addition to the internal gallery, there are two exterior ones – gold and stone.

At the belfry, that is located in the north-west tower, there is the Big Paul bell. It is the greatest of all the bells in the British Isles. There are two tower belfries in the cathedral, and seventeen bells.

There are tombs of many famous people in the cathedral. In particular, Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill, and the creator of the cathedral, Sir Christopher Wren, are buried here.

Natural History Museum

Natural History Museum in London is one of the most famous museums of this type. Its collection includes more than 70 million of various exhibits brought from all over the world. This is a great place for a family vacation. Children like visiting this Museum very much. Here you can often see excursions for pupils.

Initially, it existed as a department of the British Museum. Formal separation of the Natural History Museum took place in 1963, as an exception to the title the words British Museum was carried out only in 29 years.

Five large sections – mineralogy, botany, paleontology, entomology and zoology – cover all countless heritages, gathered for centuries. This is a huge building. It is a real treasure. Here you can see such amazing imagination things like moving model of a Tyrannosauruses, an eight-meter squid carcass, copy of a huge Diplodocus skeleton size 32 m, beautiful collection of minerals and precious stones, the model of the solar system, as well as many other exhibits. The museum is a public place. Therefore, the entrance is free.

Houses of Parliament

Houses of Parliament are located in the heart of the city on the banks of the River Thames. It is here where thousands of years the history of Great Britain formed. It is a country that influences the political life of the world very much.

The first royal residence at this place appeared in the 11th century. In 1834, as a result of a severe fire, most of the ancient buildings were destroyed. At the site of the burned building a modern House of Parliament was built. It is a beautiful architectural structure, attracting admiring glances of the inhabitants and visitors of London. An elegant Gothic building is decorated with two towers, one of which bears the name of Big Ben. The famous antique clock and a bell are set on it. Another tower, named after Queen Victoria, is used as an archive.

For tourists there are also the Royal Gallery, Queen Room, halls of parliamentary sessions and other exciting facilities. Their total number of them equals a thousand. Floors of the building are connected with hundreds of stairs. In the House of Lords one can admire the unique wooden panel. The interior is decorated with heraldic images of animals and birds, as well as portraits of rulers and statesmen.

Old Spitalfields Market

Photo: Carol

The Old Market is located at the intersection of a rich business City and bustling East End. It can rightly be called one of the most interesting and recommended for visiting markets in London.

Preserved from the Victorian era, the Old Market has the status of an architectural monument. The building of modern Spitalfields was erected in 1887. However, the market had existed in this place from 1638. It owes its existence to King Charles, who issued a license to sell food to residents of rapidly growing suburb.

To this day the market is surrounded from all sides by genuine monsters of concrete and steel. Real trade boils here every day. The old spirit of former times hangs in the air. The market is especially crowded on Sundays. Here you can buy everything – from organic food to designer jewelry. Visitors can walk through the grocery stores, look something exclusive in vintage style departments with retro clothes, watch antique trinkets or visit one of the local restaurants that is famous for delicious cuisine. There will always be original souvenirs for tourists and visitors of Old Spitalfields market.

The London Eye

The London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames in London. There are only a few such wheels in the world. The height of this miracle of technology is 135 meters. This is equal to the height of 45-storey building.

This giant attraction is a family project of married couple of architects – Julia Barfield and David Marks. It is noteworthy that in 1993, this project has not received support from the city authorities. So the couple decided to make it a reality by themselves. One day due to familiarity with Bob Elling, the head of British Airways, they solved the financial aspect of their project. The process of construction was incredibly complex. Many parts of the wheel were delivered to the construction site on the River Thames. A few years later the wheel was opened to the public.

Each of the 32 cabins with a capacity of 25 people represents one of London's suburbs. One circle lasts for half an hour. Every year at least 3.5 million people enjoy London panorama from aerial view. When it is dark outside, the backlight is switched on. Due to it the London Eye becomes an unforgettable spectacle.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in London. Its beautiful round building is located in a historic area of the city, on the South Bank of the River Thames.

The founding date of the theater is considered 1599. One of its first owners was Shakespeare himself. This theater had worked only 43 years. Later it was closed and demolished. Only in 1972 due to the efforts of the American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, the remains of the theater groundwork were found. The process of construction of the new project had lasted for 25 years. Finally, in 1997 it was opened to visitors. The present Shakespeare's Globe Theatre can seat 1,400 spectators. Now it is a successful reconstruction of the round shape wooden theater of the Elizabethan era.

All the historical realities were taken into account in the process of construction of modern building. Therefore, there is no roof in the renewed theatre. For this reason, all the performances are held in the open air in the spring and summer. Please note that the theatre administration has organized a year-round access to the theatre for tourists.

There is the Park Museum near the theatre. It houses the world's largest exhibition dedicated to the great Shakespeare. All museum guests are offered a variety of themed entertainment activities.

Harrods

Photo: Lorenzo G

Harrods department store in London has a reputation of being one of the most luxurious and the biggest upmarket department stores in the world. The store occupies 20,000 square meters site. It has more than 90,000 square meters of selling space in more than 330 departments. Some of the departments have worldwide fame (for example, a seasonal department of Christmas festive goods).

Grocery store, which opens the history of this department store, was opened in 1834. In the early 20th century, due to Charles Digby Harrod, the son of a grocer, the grocery store was converted into a shopping mall. His motto was: Everything, to everybody, from everywhere. Though his business finished being a family one, the brand name has remains unchanged to present day.

It is the most visited department store in the English-speaking countries. More than 300,000 buyers come here every day. The building of Harrods department store affects with both luxury and high prices, because the department store has become "famous" for its prices long ago. Since 1989 the administration of Harrods has officially implemented the dress code. According to it, people in dirty clothes and in uniform are not allowed to come in.

The name Harrods have been in the list of suppliers of British royal court till 2001.

London Dungeon

Photo: Kake

London Dungeon is Museum of fear. It is an interactive attraction in which the horrors of medieval torture are accompanied by modern stereo and video effects.

London Dungeon is located in a dark vaulted cellar near London Bridge. This is a great place to test the nerves. The prison has no shortage of visitors since its opening in 1976. Originally conceived Dungeon, a museum "horror stories", but eventually turned into a spectacular attraction with the involvement of actors in their respective costumes and makeup. Their appearance is accompanied by eerie sound effects.

This horror attraction includes tour, passing by the most terrible episodes of British history, embodied in the life here. Stirring, half-dead victims of the Great Plague touch visitors, a sinister silhouette of Jack the Ripper appears from nowhere, and "Descent into Hell" can frighten even the most persistent people. All London Dungeon guests will have the chance to experience the sensations that occur when hanging. For this purpose they will be thrown into the pit! All guests will surely remain alive, but the impressions received will never be forgotten.

About London

The city at the mouth of the River Thames was founded by the Romans at the dawn of a new era. Since the end of the first century it was considered the capital of the UK and one of the largest settlements in the world.

Where to go, what to see in London?

What to see necessarily in London? Of course, the great exhibition at the British Museum opened in the XVIII century, and the Museum of Natural History. There you will find out many interesting facts about the development of human civilization from the Stone Age to the present day.

Museum items, renamed in honor of Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, consist of a large number of rooms, which contain works of art and archaeological findings of different ages. London's National Gallery will require inspection for many days - in size and number of exhibits is not inferior to the Louvre and the Hermitage.

What you need to see in London to feel yourself a "part of history"? To get started, have a walk along the delightful Hyde Park and explore the memorial to Princess Diana. Pass on a movable Tower Bridge, go to the Imperial Museum of Military History, and witness the study of Churchill. And then go to the Old Market in London, located on the border of the business City and bustling East End.

England is famous not only for its historical sites, but also by ghosts. The Tower of London has its own ghosts. Just take a group guided tour through the narrow corridors and casemates ancient prison, be sure to tell a dozen chilling stories. Many legends are associated with Westminster Abbey. A ghost monk who faithfully serves his king even after death still lives there.

Studying the map in search of an answer to the question of what to see in London, the first route should lay to Buckingham Palace, served as a refuge for dozens of Kings for three centuries. Ceremonial changing of the guard at the gate of the royal citadel now takes place under exactly the same scenario as the three hundred years ago.

In the House of Parliament you can see the room in which kings, queens and important English lords from the XI century spent their busy days. The interior of this building today is designed in the spirit of the ancient Middle Ages.