The city of London is full of historical monuments, museums where time passes without you noticing and many other places of interest. These are 15 must-see monuments and places in the UK capital.
1. Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of those places that tourists visit with a bit of awe, thinking about what happened in its spaces throughout history, especially the executions of prominent figures such as Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard, Jane Gray and Thomas More. . This impressive castle, located very close to another London symbol, the Tower Bridge, accumulates almost a thousand years of history and has been from a royal palace to a menagerie, passing through a prison, minting house, arsenal and public registry, among other uses.
2. Tower Bridge
This late 19th century drawbridge is an icon of the British capital and should not be confused with London Bridge, which is another nearby crossing over the River Thames. From its catwalks located more than 40 meters high, equipped with glass floors and telescopes, you have wonderful views of London. Another of its attractions is the Victorian-era engine room to drive the cams, which is still in operation, although it no longer does so with pressurized water and steam, but with hydraulic oil and electricity. Despite the fact that the bridge’s cams have been raised several times a day for 122 years to allow the passage of ships, the maneuver continues to delight Londoners and visitors.
3. Buckingham Palace
This beautiful building built in classical and neoclassical styles is the official residence of the British monarchs. One of the activities present on the agenda of almost all tourists who visit London in summer is to witness the majestic daily changing of the guard ceremony at the palace. The gardens and green areas of Buckingham Palace are of incomparable beauty, being also the largest among all the houses for residential use in the city. Buckingham Palace is a symbol of national unity and is visited by Londoners in moments of great commotion.
4. St. Paul’s Cathedral
This impressive baroque building is the main temple of the Anglican religion in Great Britain. It was completed in 1710 and for its survey the authorities selected Ludgate Hill, the highest natural point in London. It was designed by Christopher Wren, the great artistic architect of the reconstruction of the city after the fire that devastated it in 1666. Inside, the dome, the altars, the apse, the choir and other components stand out. Among the illustrious figures buried in the cathedral are Admiral Horatio Nelson, the greatest English military hero, and the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.
5. Westminster Abbey
The abbey is the place where English kings are crowned and where monarchs and other figures of great historical importance in the United Kingdom are buried. Among the most notable tombs are those of the scientists Isaac Newton and Lord Kelvin; the writers John Milton, Charles Dickens and Alexander Pope, the composer Georg Friedrich Haendel and the actor and director Laurence Olivier. Less frequently, Westminster Abbey is the scene of royal weddings, the most recent being that of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.
6. Palace of Westminster and Big Ben
The palace is a beautiful building with neo-Gothic lines, most of which was built during the 19th century. In its beginnings it was a royal residence, although no sovereign has lived in it for more than 400 years. It has more than a thousand rooms, an attribute that, apart from its majesty, helped it to be chosen to house the English bicameral parliament (House of Commons and House of Lords). Its most emblematic component is Big Ben, the most famous 4-sided clock in the world, located on a 96-meter-high tower.
7. Trafalgar Square
This square pays tribute to the Naval Battle of Trafalgar, the most symbolic act of arms in English history, in which on October 21, 1805 the British navy defeated the powerful joint fleet of France and Spain, a contest in which the Admiral Nelson won and died. The square is dominated by Nelson’s Column, which rises 46 meters and is the site of mass gatherings in the city of London. It is surrounded by beautiful fountains and buildings, including the National Gallery, St Martin-in-the-Fields Anglican Church, Canada House and South Africa House.
8. Coca-Cola London Eye
Inaugurated in 2000 to commemorate the advent of the new millennium, the London Eye, the tallest observation wheel in Europe at 135 meters, has become the place that attracts the most public in the English capital. Along the ride on the wheel located almost in front of the House of Parliament, spectacular views of the city of London follow one another. The 32 cabins of the London Eye are air-conditioned and made of glass, offering a complete 360-degree view. From the Ferris wheel you can see things that are 40 kilometers away and enjoy privileged postcards of nearby attractions, such as Big Ben, Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey.
9. British Museum
It is difficult to collect 7 million pieces from all over the world, but the vast British empire, with possessions and colonies in Europe, Asia, Africa, America and Oceania, added to the tenacity of its scientific and cultural community, managed to do it. This enormous sample is exhibited in the British Museum, the most complete in the world. There are works of classical civilizations, such as the Greek friezes of the Temple of Apollo in Bassae, the statues of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and the Roman copy of Myron’s Discobolus. It also keeps the Rosetta Stone, the rock with texts written in 3 languages that made it possible to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphic language. Objects of all times from all cultures from all over the planet; everything fits in the British Museum.
10. Natural History Museum
After touring the Natural History Museum in London you no longer need to enter any more of its kind. You will require a lot of time to examine everything because it is immensely large. Its lobby is well known for the mastodon fossil that welcomes the public; what few people know is that the gigantic skeleton was rescued in Chile. The collection of specimens that Charles Darwin amassed throughout his life to document his theory of Evolution is in the museum. As well as incredible crystallizations of minerals and specimens of fauna and flora of almost all the species in the world, many of which are extinct. Ask for any being that lives on the planet or that has disappeared, and the museum will have it.
11. Madame Tussauds Museum
It is perhaps the nicest museum in London for the perfection of its wax figures, which so vividly imitate the characters reproduced, that it really seems that you had taken a real photo with the kings, with David Beckham or with Angelina Jolie. It was founded by the French-born artist Marie Tussaud and hers are the death masks of the guillotined Louis XVI, Robespierre and Marat. What many people who visit the museum don’t know is that Mrs. Tussaud was also nearly guillotined during the French Revolution, only saved by a last-minute pardon. The museum’s horror gallery is one of the biggest attractions.
12. Victoria and Albert Museum
The Victorian Era marked an important period in British and universal history, and much of it is collected in this exhibition, which includes objects from all periods. The museum dedicated to Victoria of the United Kingdom and her husband and cousin, Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, is located in South Kensington and one of its great jewels is the Codex Forster , a code personally written by Leonardo DaVinci. The exhibition contains pieces from all the classical arts and only in painting there are about 2,000 paintings, to which must be added hundreds of sculptures, engravings, drawings, jewelry, as well as works in ivory, ceramics, glass and other materials.
13. Sea Life London Aquarium
This aquarium, the most important in London, is located on the first level of County Hall, a building adjacent to the London Eye, so you can visit the two attractions, one after the other. The exhibition brings together several hundred species of animals and plants from all the world’s seas, including 12 types of sharks. One of its great attractions is the penguin area, in which these animals live in a simulated environment similar to their natural habitat.
14. London Zoo
You’ve probably seen the movie Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and you’ll remember the scene where a snake comes out of its locked chamber and puts the nasty son of Harry’s uncles to flight. The location of that scene was the London Zoo. Apart from snakes and animals of all kinds, the zoo has a huge aquarium, which honors the fact that the word “aquarium” was invented on the site in the 19th century, leaving the word “aquatic nursery” that was used before, in disuse. . This zoo opened its doors in 1828, being the oldest in the world after Vienna.
15. London Underground
It could be thought that it is just a means of transport, but the London Underground is a cultural emblem of the British capital. It began operations in 1863 with its first line and currently has 11 lines and more than 270 stations scattered throughout Greater London. Amid the bombing of the city during World War II, the “Tube”, as it is affectionately called, served as a refuge and residence for hundreds of thousands of Londoners. The free tube map is one of the first things you should look for when you arrive in London.
The selection has been difficult because in London there are too many places of interest worthy of being highlighted. We hope you liked it and that it will be useful for your trip to the city.