London is the Capital City of London and of the United Kingdom

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  • 8/10/2019 London is the Capital City of London and of the United Kingdom


    Londonis the capital city of London and of theUnited Kingdom.With an estimated

    8,308,369 residents in 2012

    Londonis marked by its history.

    For almost all of it the key factor was the bridge(s) across the Thames. First built by the Romans, it

    made Londinium a trade centre, and a sea port.

    The bridges across the Thames remain major features.

    As London grew it absorbed previously separate villages, and even another city (Westminster). Some

    of these have simply vanished, others retain something of their character, or at least a name.

    (Moorfields is now miles from any moor or field, but once...)

    Layer upon layer of history make London...

    Once a walled city, "London wall" is still a street name and there are Roman and younger traces still


    Westminster Abbey was a marvel before the Normans came. They added the beginnings of the Tower

    of London.

    Royalty left their mark, from palaces (St James's, Buckingham) to hunting grounds and parks...

    (Richmond, Hyde Park) The amount of green open space in central London remains exceptional.

    But few people were at the top of the social pyramid and at the dirty end of the river, and the

    downwind end of the city, were the slums: "The East End". It's still not as gentrified as the west, even

    in the days of cleaner air, and a sewage system that was the marvel of all, when it was built.

    (Joseph Bazalgette, the man who saved London!)

    Then there was fire: The great fire of London changed its face, as did the Luftwaffe in Word War Two.

    Out of the ruins of each respectively came Wren's churches and 1950's civic development. More of thelatter has since been demolished, but much of both can still be found.

    London, standing on soft clay not hard stone, was late to high rise buildings, but any modern

    description of London would include "The Gherkin" (built on a site opened for development by an IRA

    bomb) and Canary Wharf, as well as The Houses of Parliament and St Paul's cathedral.

    The great railways carved into London and left their massive calling cards: Waterloo, Paddington,

    Victoria, St Pancras...

    It has a very large daytime population, and hundreds of thousands of people work in London's Square Mile,

    but its resident population is very small.

    "The metropolis affords many amusements which are open to all; it is itself an astonishing and perpetual spectacle to the curious eye;and each taste, each sense, may be gratified by the variety of objects..the pleasures of a town life, the daily round from the tavern to the

    play, from the play to the coffee house, from the coffee house to the ******* are within the reach of every man". Edward Gibbon 1796
  • 8/10/2019 London is the Capital City of London and of the United Kingdom


    London used to be the world's largest metropolis and although it has ceded that title to the sprawling cities

    of the southern hemisphere, it's still a huge bewildering place if it's your first visit. Even if you speak English

    fluently you can only learn how to pronounce place names like' Greenwich' 'Leicester Square' and

    'Chomondeley Place' by example. Many visitors waste large amounts of money simply because they don't

    know the tips and wrinkles that Londoners have picked up intuitively. So in this section, we assume that it's

    your first visit to our shores - some of the information here you'll probably already know, but it's worth

    reading it all at your leisure (print off this page and take it to bed with a cup of cocoa) - you'll certainly save

    time and money if you do.

    =1) Best in Summer:The guided tours of the Houses of Parliament are superb, in any language you

    want, and get you to places that even normal Brits can't. However when Parliament is sitting they are not

    running, but you can still get in. SeeHERE

    =1)The Tate Modern [45 mins wander], Tate Britain[at a pinch 40 mins] and National Galleries

    [preferably 2 x 45 minute visits] . All free so don't bolt your art, digest it slowly with frequent visits. London's

    public collections are the best in the world. What's amazing is the consistent high quality of all the works

    displayed - there are no duds! Details on ourArt page

    2) Hampton Court. We rate this as one of the best attractions in Europe. A whole

    succession of monarchs have added to Henry VIII's original palace. A fantastic park (by Capability Brown)

    and gardens (including the famous maze), Tudor kitchens and one of the last remaining Real Tennis courts.

    Lots of free (once you've paid the admission) guided tours, some in costume, by people who know and love

    the place. It's also surrounded by a series of parks and makes a great destination for a bike trip - train out

    (30 mins from Waterloo), bike back (12 miles) along the river. We prefer it to the Tower of London - you'll

    probably want to visit both, it knocks the spots off Buckingham Palace. Details on ourHistoric Londonpage.

    3) The River. Walk along the South Bank from Tower Bridge to Lambeth (see itinerarysection). The best of

    London is spread out for you: The Tower of London & Tower Bridge, The Houses of Parliament, Lambeth

    Palace (residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury), Shakespeare's Globe theatre, Both Tate Galleries, St

    Paul's Cathedral, The South Bank Centre, The Temple, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Somerset

    House. [A 2 hour walk if you don't stop for long]. Or you can take a boat out to Greenwich, the Thames

    Barrier or the Dome.
  • 8/10/2019 London is the Capital City of London and of the United Kingdom


  • 8/10/2019 London is the Capital City of London and of the United Kingdom


    where fanatics rail and preach, St James has the lake and pelicans, Green is Stately and Royal and

    Kensington Gardens houses the Royal Costume collection. Holland park has the Orangery and an Opera

    House, as well as the most beautiful youth hostel in the country. This is Walk Two on ouritinerary page.

    You can bathe naked on Hampstead Heath, go fly a kite on Blackheath or visit the deer in Greenwich park.

    One of the tourists we surveyed placed the Japanese Garden in Holland Park at the top of his list - he found

    it an oasis of peace in the overwhelming bustle of London.

    8) The Cityhome to the Bank of England, Bow Bells, and the few remaining architectural

    treasures of Samuel Pepys' London. Many nooks and crannies preserve the taste of Victorian London -

    chop houses unchanged in their menus and habits since the Relief of Mafeking. Home of the Royal

    Shakespeare Company in London until mid-2002, this is really a place to potter round see ouritinerary page

    for details of two routes we've worked out to take in the best of the City. There are many good official

    guided tours - the tour of City Churches is an award winner. [absolute minimum - St Paul's and nearby St


    9) Museums and Galleries The British Museum [African, Babylonian and Egyptian

    galleries, reading room and court], The Victoria & Albert [British galleries and Cast Rooms], Sir JohnSoane's museum [ can be done in 30 mins if in a hurry], the Natural History and Science Museums, theMuseum of London - to pick but a few. More details on ourMuseums page.

    10)The Theatre: - It'd be a crime to visit London and not take in a show. Londoners havebeen passionate about the theatre for centuries not only is the quality high, but the price is low - one thirdthe price of Broadway. Classical Music and Opera is of a similarly high standard and low price. See ourEntertainmentspage for more details. And finally seeHEREfor details of what to see if you're doing aone-day, two-day, three-day or week long trip


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