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A statue a top of Tower of London
Our next day in London was packed with numerous sight-seeings. Another must-visit (but very, very expensive) in London would be Tower of London. Also known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, Tower of London is a historic castle situated on the north bank of the River Thames. Tower of London has played a prominent role in English history. It was besieged several times and controlling it has been important to controlling the country.
Tower of London
The main tower, White Tower, was built in 1078 by William the Conqueror. Tower of London has once served as the royal residence, a prison, an armoury, a treasury, a menagerie, the home of the Royal Mint, a public records office, and the home of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom.
Dragon made of recycled materials!
The whole place is very huge and extremely crowded with people (the queue to see the Crown Jewels were scarily long!) So do go early / plan at least 2 hours so that you have time to visit all towers.
This interesting (but scary) gate has been used since the early seventeenth century. Prisoners were brought by barge along the Thames, passing under London Bridge, where the heads of recently executed prisoners were displayed on pikes (yikes!) and they will enter Tower of London via this gate.
Guard on duty
Ravens residing in Tower of London
In Tower of London, it’s not uncommon to see a group of ravens roaming in the grounds. The presence of the ravens is traditionally believed to protect the Crown and the Tower as there was a superstition that holds that “If the Tower of London ravens are lost or fly away, the Crown will fall and Britain with it.” However, it’s also funny to note that the ravens’ wings are clipped so they can’t fly far and out of the ground.
London EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Sun-Mon 10am-5:30pm; Tue-Sat 9am-5:30pm (closes at 4.30pm from Nov to Feb)
Adult £19.00; Child £9.50; Concessions (Student and elderly) £16.00; Family £50.00
Tower Hill underground station; Fenchurch Street or London Bridge train stations
Buses:15, 42, 78, 100, RV1
When X and I were in London, we searched high and low for London Bridge – we all know the nursery song “London Bridge is Falling Down” (aka “My Fair Lady”), right? So we wanted to see whether the bridge really exists – and it does! The current London Bridge, opened to traffic in 1973, is a box girder bridge constructed from concrete and steel. It was constructed to replace a 19th-century stone-arched bridge, which in turn replaced a 600-year-old medieval structure. And before this medieval structure were several timber bridges; and the first was built by the Roman founders of London. It’s a pity we can’t see the original ancient bridge anymore!
Tulip House, 70 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XF, United Kingdom
Tower Bridge, built between 1886 and 1894, was located just next to the London Bridge. This fancy bridge almost misled me into thinking that this is the London Bridge! Can you see the many people on the bridge? Tower Bridge is another popular tourist destination with exhibition being held inside. We weren’t a huge fan of exhibitions so we gave it a miss and simply take photos of the bridge from afar.
Tulip House, 70 Borough High Street, London SE1 1XF, United Kingdom
April – September 10:00 – 18:00 (last admission 17:30)
October – March 09:30 – 17:30 (last admission 17:00)
Adults £8; Concessions £5.60
Tube: Tower Hill Station; London Bridge Station
Bus: 15, 42, 78,100, RV1.
HMS Belfast in front of Tower Bridge
HMS Belfast is a museum ship, originally a Royal Navy light cruiser, that is moored permanently on the River Thames. It was constructed in 1936 and launched in 1938. After extensive repairs due to damage caused by a mine, the Belfast became probably the largest and arguably most powerful cruiser in the Royal Navy in 1942. The ship was originally planned to be scrapped, however efforts from a private trust allowed the preservation and conversion of the ship into a public museum in 1971.
Morgan’s Lane, Tooley Street, SE1 2JH
March to October 10am – 6pm (last admission 5pm)
November to February 10am – 5pm (last admission 4pm)
Tube: London Bridge; Tower Hill
Adults £14.00; Child (under 16) Free; Concessions £11.20 (Senior, Student, Disabled)
We happened to pass by a beautiful cathedral near London Bridge – Southwark Cathedral. Southwark Cathedral is the oldest cathedral church building in London, and archaeological evidence shows there was Roman pagan worship here well before that. Pity we didn’t have the time to go in for a look.
Montague Close, London Bridge, London SE1 9DA
Tube: London Bridge; Monument Station; Bank Station
Group tours: Adults £5.00; Child (under 11) £2.50; Concessions £4.50 (Senior Citizens, Student)
Royal Albert Hall
On our third day, we went to Windsor Castle (will blog about it in the next post!) and when we were on our way back, we headed to Kensington Gardens. While at the garden, we saw a magnificent building, after taking photos of it and checking the map, we realized that building is Royal Albert Hall, a concert hall best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941. Originally supposed to have been called The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, the name was changed to Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences by Queen Victoria as a dedication to her deceased husband Prince Albert.
Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AP, United Kingdom
The Albert Memorial is situated directly to the north of the Royal Albert Hall. It was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of her deceased husband, Prince Albert. The memorial is 176 feet (54 m) tall, took over ten years to complete, and cost £120,000 (the equivalent of about £10,000,000 in 2010), which was met by public subscription.
Swan Lake in Kensington Gardens
While we were at the Kensington Gardens,we passed by this enormous and beautiful swan lake. There were so.many.swans! And ducks too!
Lone swan in the Swan Lake
On a totally random note, seeing this picture of swan made me want to try making Swan Puffs…
6am – 6.45pm
Tube: Lancaster Gate & Queensway (Central Line); Bayswater (District Line); High Street Kensington (Circle and District Lines)
St Paul’s Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral, constructed between 1675 and 1710, is the seat of the Bishop of London and a major London landmark. The current cathedral was the 4th cathedral to occupy the site.
St Paul’s Cathedral from Millennium Bridge
The Chapter House, St Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD
Evening view of St Pauls Cathedral from Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge, officially known as the London Millennium Footbridge, is a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians crossing the River Thames. Construction of the bridge started in 1998, with the opening on 10 June 2000. However, the bridge swayed so severely that it was closed just 2 days after the opening and it was modified for the next 2 years to eliminate the wobbly. The bridge is then reopened again in 2002.
Thames Embankment, Londra EC4 / Bankside, London, SE1 9TG
Night view of Tower Bridge
Our last stop of the day was at Tower Bridge. The wind was pretty strong (but it’s cooling not cold), so it’s nice to just sit down, chill (it’d be even better if I had a cuppa in my hands!) and enjoy the view. If only I can do this everyday, but unfortunately I’m not rich enough. Ah well, at least I have photos that I can put as screensaver and admire from here 😉
The last travel post would be on Windsor Castle (will be a pretty short post I believe. Can’t believe I’m finally going to finish blogging about the trip, it’s been so long!)