Famous Landmarks in London: 5 Places to Visit

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landmarks in London
Image by itmlux, pixabay, copyright year 2017

Numerous people around the have the dream of exploring the landmarks in London on their bucket list.

What comes to the mind on hearing the word ‘London’?

It is not a single thing, isn’t?

Starting from Royal Palaces to newly built architectural landmarks domineering the beautiful London skyline, the list is so long.

London doesn’t only play the role of being the capital city but also proudly flaunts itself as being a treasure box of iconic famous landmarks.

There are numerous landmarks in London to be explored such as the Westminster Palace, The Shard, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Shakespeare’s Globe, Royal Albert Hall, and many more.

Charles Dickens, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, and Oscar Wilde together make London the world’s supreme literary hub.

London has a breathtaking music history. David Bowie, Amy Winehouse, Adele, The Clash, George Michael, and the list goes on and on.

And yes, not to forget that London is a city that is beautiful in all seasons. Visit London at any time of the year and get tons of Instagram-worthy pictures at any location in this city.

Everything about London cannot be put together in a single article but here are 5 famous landmarks to visit if the tourist is running short on time.

1.  5 Famous Landmarks in London

Here are a few landmarks tourists can visit to spend an eventful day in London.

1.1. Buckingham Palace

landmarks in London
The image has been screenshotted from the official site of the Buckingham Palace.

Location: London SW1A 1AA, United Kingdom

Want to take a royal walk?

Buckingham Palace is truly one of the iconic London landmarks.

This place is known far and wide for its heritage and architecture. Historically linked to the royal family of Britain, it has been the London-based official residence of the British monarch since the year 1837.

It is the administrative headquarters of the King.

The iconic palace’s magnificent and lavish gates keep out millions of visitors every year, all eager to get a glimpse into the splendid royal life of kings, queens, dukes, and duchesses.

The first sovereign to reside at this magnificent royal palace was Queen Victoria.

Buckingham Palace is furnished and decorated with fabulous works of Art that altogether form the Royal Collection.

Many Investitures together with the famous conferring of knighthoods by dubbing with a sword, and numerous other prestigious awards take place in Buckingham Palace’s splendid Ballroom constructed in the year 1854.

The Ballroom is 120 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 45 feet high which makes it the largest room in the palace. 

What’s There for Visitors?

Visitors can admire the Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace which encompasses colourful spectacle and British pageantry.

During the Changing the Guard ceremony, also called the ‘Guard Mounting’, one detachment of troops takes over from another. The King’s Guard is composed of the St James’s Palace and Buckingham Palace detachments.

The New Guard, who through the course of the ceremony become The King’s Guard, march to Buckingham Palace from Wellington Barracks with musical accompaniment.

Each room in Buckingham Palace is filled with furniture, magnificent marble sculptures, and dazzling paintings, including portraits of Queen Victoria’s family that tell a story.

Adjacent to Buckingham Palace visitors will find the Royal Mews, designed by Nash, where the royal carriages, including the Gold State Coach, are housed. This royal palace is a significant part of British history.

1.2. St Paul’s Cathedral

Landmarks of london
The image has been screenshotted from the official site of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Location: St Paul’s Cathedral, St Paul’s Churchyard, London, EC4M 8AD.

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the notable landmarks of London. St Paul’s Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral situated in England. It serves as the seat of the Bishop of London.

The St Paul’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of London. It is located on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the City of London. It is also a Grade I listed building.

The St Paul’s Cathedral has a longstanding tradition of honouring and welcoming champions of equality and social justice. The prison reformer John Howard was the first ‘civilian’ to be given a statue on the Cathedral floor.

Martin Luther King addressed a sermon to numerous worshippers in the year 1964.

1.2.1. Architecture

The current structure was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren, a famous architect and scientist. Its construction was part of a chief rebuilding program in the city after the Great Fire of London

The former Gothic cathedral (Old St Paul’s Cathedral), which was mostly destroyed in the Great Fire, was a central emphasis for medieval and early modern London, together with Paul’s Walk and St Paul’s Churchyard, being the site of St Paul’s Cross.

The prime internal space of the cathedral is under the central dome which spreads the full width of the nave and aisles.

1.2.2. Events

St Paul’s Cathedral has held services including the funerals of Admiral Lord Nelson, Winston Churchill, the Duke of Wellington and Margaret Thatcher.

The jubilee celebrations for Queen Victoria and an inauguration service for the Metropolitan Hospital Sunday Fund were also held here.

The world-famous spectacular wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was also held at this iconic London landmark.

The remarkable thanksgiving services for the Silver, Golden, Diamond, and Platinum Jubilees and the 80th and 90th birthdays of Queen Elizabeth II were held at St Paul’s Cathedral.

The adjacent London Underground station is St Paul’s, which is located 130 yards away from St Paul’s Cathedral.

1.2.3. What’s There to Do?

Visitors can explore the beautiful and spectacular architecture of St. Paul’s Cathedral on a sightseeing tour. This place is a paradise for die-hard monarchists and history buffs.

St Paul’s has also served as a venue for occasions including splendid royal weddings and the funerals of dignitaries including Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher.

Christian visitors fully enjoy the purpose of the cathedral, which features daily services and prayer sessions.

1.3. Big Ben (One of the Famous Landmarks in London)

landmarks of london
The image has been screenshotted from the official site of the Big Ben.

Location: Westminster, England.

Want to make the best use of your time?

The Great Clock of Westminster is the perfect place to have a great time.

Big Ben is another popular and frequently used name for the Great Bell of the Great Clock of Westminster,  sited at the north end of the Palace of Westminster. 

The official name of the well-known tower in which the famous Big Ben is positioned was initially called the Clock Tower. The Clock Tower was named again Elizabeth Tower in the year 2012 to mark the historic Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II.

The spectacular tower was designed by Augustus Pugin in a splendid neo-Gothic style. When finished in the year 1859, its clock was the largest and most precise four-faced striking and chiming clock around the globe.

The tower is strikingly 316 feet in height, and the climb from ground level to the belfry takes 334 steps.

The tower’s base is square measuring 40 feet (12 m) on every side.

The tower embodies all four nations of the United Kingdom on shields beautifully featuring a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, a shamrock for Ireland, and a leek for Wales.

The tower is a world-famous British cultural icon recognized all over the globe.

Visitors won’t regret spending time marvelling at one of the greatest prominent symbols of the United Kingdom and parliamentary democracy.

It is frequently used in the establishing shot of films set in London. The remarkable clock tower has been part of a Grade I listed building since the year 1970.

It is also a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage Site since the year 1987.

Interesting Facts

A very interesting fact is that Big Ben is not the only bell in the clock tower. 

The bells are fixed and struck by hammers from the outer area, rather than swinging and being struck from inside by clappers.   

There are four other interesting bells in the Belfry. 

The ‘wow’ factor here is that their notes all combine to form the famous tune: 

  • ‘E’ is Big Ben’s musical note, as is the third quarter bell 

  • ‘G’ is the first quarter bell’s musical note 

  • ‘F#’ is the note of the second quarter bell 

  • ‘B’ is the fourth bell’s note. 

Which bell is the heaviest? 

  • Big Ben weighs 13.7 tonnes, and the hammer is 200kg in weight

  • The first quarter bell weighs 1.1 tonnes  

  • The second quarter bell weighs 1.3 tonnes 

  • The third quarter bell weighs 1.7 tonnes 

  • The fourth quarter bell weighs  4 tonnes 

The Big Ben is one of the most Instagrammed landmarks of London and is considered a piece of art. Visitors can click a lot of amazing pictures here.

1.4. Westminster Abbey

landmarks in London
The image has been screenshotted from the official site of Westminster Abbey.

Location: Dean’s Yard, London SW1P 3PA, UK

Westminster Abbey was formally known as the Collegiate Church of Saint Peter at Westminster. This fascinating piece of history is a famous Anglican church situated in the City of Westminster, London.

Westminster Abbey has been the site of the historic coronations of 40 English and British monarchs and also a burial site for English, Scottish and British monarchs since the year 1066.

At least 16 historic royal weddings have taken place at the abbey since the year 1100.

The church received its first magnificent building in the 1060s.

In the year 1987, Westminster Abbey, along with the Palace of Westminster and St. Margaret’s Church, was designated as a celebrated UNESCO World Heritage site due to its spectacular universal value.

The jaw-dropping Gothic architecture of the church is mainly inspired by French and English styles from the 13th century. Some sectors of the church showcase earlier splendid Romanesque styles or later Baroque and modern styles. 

The Henry VII Chapel located at the east end of the church is a characteristic example of fascinating Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

The breathtaking interior decoration of this iconic London landmark has Purbeck marble piers and shafting.

The vaulting of the roof is a fine quadripartite, with beautiful ridge ribs and bosses. Standing at a marvellous height of 102 feet (31 m), it is one of the highest church vaults in Britain. 

1.4.1. The Library Collection

The library came into existence after the Abbey was founded as a collegiate church in the year 1560.

In the year 1623, book presses were installed by Dean John Williams. He brought in about 2,000 valuable books. The splendid collection grew throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, with precious books being given, bought, and bequeathed. 

The library now possesses around 14,000 books printed before the year 1801. It also possesses about 60 precious manuscripts (mostly medieval), the valuable Oldaker collection of fine bookbindings, and a collection of printed and manuscript music.

The illuminated manuscripts include the Litlyngton Missal (now in two volumes), the prayer book of Lady Margaret Beaufort, and the Liber Regalis. All of these valuable wonders are on display in The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries.

1.4.2. Muniment collection

The muniment collection is one of the oldest and most marvellous in England. The documents there include the records of Westminster Abbey dating from the tenth century to the current day.

Other documents in the muniments include historic royal charters, minutes of Chapter meetings, leases of Abbey property (lease books from 1486), letters (including a large collection of Dean Pearce’s correspondence), and some records of coronations and funerals.

It also includes tradesmen’s bills, Hebrew documents, and coroners’ inquests for the City of Westminster 1760–1880.

1.5. Tower Bridge

landmarks in london
The image has been screenshotted from the official site of Tower Bridge.

Location: Tower Bridge Rd, London SE1 2UP, UK.

Tower Bridge is one of the most famous London landmarks.

1.5.1. History

An enormous challenge faced by the City of London Corporation was how to build a bridge downstream from London Bridge without disturbing river traffic activities.

To generate ideas, the Special Bridge or Subway Committee was formed in the year 1876, and a public competition was launched to get a design for the new crossing.

Over 50 designs were submitted to the Special Bridge or Subway Committee for consideration, some of which are on display at Tower Bridge.

In the year 1884, Sir Horace Jones, the City Architect, in collaboration with Sir John Wolfe Barry, presented the chosen design for Tower Bridge.

It took eight long years, five major contractors, and the determined labour of 432 hard-working construction workers each day to build the spectacular Tower Bridge under the observant eye of Sir John Wolfe Barry.

Two gigantic piers were built on foundations sunk into the riverbed to support the construction.

When it was constructed, Tower Bridge was the largest and most sophisticated bascule bridge ever finished.

These sophisticated bascules were run by hydraulics, utilizing steam to power the huge pumping engines. The energy formed was kept in six enormous accumulators, such that as soon as power was essential to lift the Bridge, it was always available for use.

Despite the intricacy of the system, the bascules only took 60 seconds to raise to their maximum angle of 86 degrees.

At the moment, the bascules are still run by hydraulic power, but since the year 1976, they have been run by oil and electricity rather than steam.

The fascinating and original pumping engines, boilers and accumulators are now on display within Tower Bridge’s Engine Rooms.

1.5.2. The First Bridge Lift, 1894

Everyone wants to engrave their name in history by being the ‘first’ to do something remarkable: the first man on the Moon (1969), the first video on YouTube (2005) or the first post on Instagram to reach the maximum number of likes within 24 hours.

What was the first historic vessel to pass through Tower Bridge?

Tower Bridge was officially opened on the 30th of  June, in the year 1894 by HRH the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII from 1901-10).

The first vessel through the Bridge was the historic Harbour Master’s vessel, Daisy. It was quickly followed by a procession of honorary vessels: the Conservator Steamer; followed by the Trinity House Yacht Irene; the gunboat HMS Landrail; the Bismark; and the Clacton Belle.

These last three mentions can be perceived in William Lionel Wyllie’s painting ‘Opening of Tower Bridge’ at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

1.5.3. The Royal Yacht Britannia

During its remarkable career as Royal Yacht, Britannia conveyed the Queen, various members of the Royal Family and several dignitaries on 272 visits in British waters and 696 foreign visits.

On the 20th of October, in the year 1997, the royal yacht made its memorable final journey passing through Tower Bridge. It is now berthed in Edinburgh, where it was unlocked in 1998 as a star tourist attraction

Many activities can be discovered on the official website of Tower Bridge.

Conclusion 

London can be called a city of famous landmarks.

Piccadilly Circus is primarily known for its huge and creative video displays and neon signs.

The London Eye, a massive observation wheel set in London’s South Bank next to the river Thames is one of the iconic landmarks of London.

To seize the highest views of the city, the London Eye is an amazing place to gain a fanciful view across the city.

The Shard is the only other taller observation deck in London. It is one of the most famous buildings worth visiting.

Hyde Park, one of the famous landmarks of London, is the largest of four Royal Parks in London. It covers a notable 350 acres and is famous for its Speakers’ Corner.

The park is free for visitors to roam with plenty of sights within the park to spot such as the Serpentine Lake, the Cavalry, the Standing Stone Monolith and Holocaust memorials as well as the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial.

The Royal Albert Hall is a fabulous concert theatre for visitors. Click here to know more about the landmarks in London.

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