London: Top 10

(continuer en français) – Published: April 2, 2023

London is one of those great capitals of the world whose major monuments are known before they are seen. While some of them make it easily into a short list of 10, there are many more that could be included. As always, the selection is difficult but practical for a short weekend visit, along the way many other places will prove equally interesting.

01. Buckingham Palace

This is the official address of the British monarch, where crowds gather on special occasions. The imposing façade presented to visitors is only a décor, built at the beginning of the 20th century to hide the real palace at the back of the courtyard, where the receptions and the apartments are located. During the summer, visitors can see some of the pompous gilded interior decoration.

02. Changing of the Guard

The great show offered by the army to the public in its parade uniforms. The main part of the ceremony takes place in the palace courtyard, it is necessary to arrive early to get behind the gates and see part of the operations. From a distance the orders and the music can be heard as the entering and exiting troops and their bands pass by.

03. Parliament

The large neo-Gothic Tudor building dates back to the mid-19th century after the previous parliament was destroyed by fire. The two chambers sit here in conditions that are more traditional than efficient. It was here that parliamentarianism was invented, a political system that spread in many different forms around the world.

04. Big Ben

A colloquial name given to the Clock Tower, officially renamed Elizabeth Tower for the 2012 Jubilee. Big Ben is actually just the name of the big bell in the carillon. The tower and its clock are symbols of London. The chime, which sounds every 15 minutes, is associated with special occasions such as the change of year or royal funerals.

05. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey, located between the Royal Palace and Parliament, has become the official church of the kingdom, where religious ceremonies such as coronations, weddings and funerals are held. It also serves as the national pantheon, with tombs of sovereigns and personalities from all spheres.

06. St Paul’s Cathedral

The 1666 Anglican cathedral was built in the City, the old part of London at the time. Today it has become the financial district, where skyscrapers have sprung up, disrupting the landscape in which the cathedral stands unmoved. Its monumental dome continues to impress, especially when approached from the Millennium Bridge.

07. Tower of London

Started after William the Conqueror’s Norman conquest in 1066, the fortress guarded the approach to the City from the Thames. A royal palace and later a prison, it now protects the crown jewels. The security system is therefore not fake while remaining faithful to the medieval system. It is a very popular tourist destination.

08. Tower Bridge

The bridge is located downstream from the Tower of London and the main port of the City. When it was built at the end of the 19th century, it was necessary to allow sailing ships to pass through by means of a tilting mechanism, while at the same time ensuring the crossing of pedestrians via the upper walkway. This gives Tower Bridge a distinctive look, reinforced by the neo-Gothic style, which is unexpected for a bridge.

09. British Museum

The British Museum is one of the largest museums in the world in terms of the wealth of its collections. They were built up from 1753, at a time when the United Kingdom dominated the world. The museum’s aim was to reflect universal culture and it collected rare finds from the early days of archaeology, which was more predatory than scientific (more).

10. Piccadilly Circus

Another London icon, with its huge advertising screens and the bustle of the colourful crowd, under the mischievous gaze of a winged Eros. At the intersection of five major avenues, rows of double-decker buses roll in and out in all directions. Around the fountain, its steps are a meeting place, a place to observe the spectacle of the street.

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    • Having lived and worked in London for some time, I also have a grey and damp memory of it. It is, however, a lovely city when the light summer weather allows for beautiful outdoor evenings.

      Liked by 1 person

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