|London’s Top Attractions|
Tower of London
Tube: Tower Bridge
Around 1080 the first Norman King of England, William the Conqueror, started the 20-year-long construction of what today is one of the most beautiful and famous fortresses in Europe: the Tower of London.
Built on the northern bankriva, sponda of the River Thames, it was completed by Edward I between 1272 and 1307. Edward, known as the Hammer of the Scots for keeping Scotland under English domination, built the fortress around the original tower, the White Tower. This tower was 27 metres high, had four-metre thickspesse, larghe walls, and facilities and accommodation for soldiers, servants and the nobility. Around this central point two sets of fortifications were added. The inner set of fortifications is called the Ballium Wall and includes 12 towers. The outer wall has six towers and two exit points, and was originally surrounded by a tributary canal from the Thames but which was drainedè stato prosciugato in the mid 1800s. Today the entire structure covers eight hectares.
Built with the intention of protecting the Normans from the inhabitants of the City of London and from foreign invaders, William the Conqueror chose stonespietre from Caen, in the north of his native France. The Bishop of Rochester oversaw the construction of the tower , and the Norman architect was Gundulf. The tower was used as a royal residence from the 13th century until the Elizabethan era, and it was during this period that it became the prison for enemies of the crowncorona.
Quite a number of “famous” prisoners have been imprisoned here over the years: Two kings of Scotland, John Baliol and David II; and a king of France, John II. Also imprisoned were Niall Garve O'Donnell, an Irish traitor, and many distinguished Englishmen and women: Henry VI, who was executed, and his wife Margaret of Anjou; Edward III’s treasurer, Sir William de la Pole; Elizabeth I for her presumed involvement in “Wyatt’s Rebellion”; the famous explorer and English poet Sir Walter Raleigh, accused of conspiracy with James I; Guy Fawkes, the Catholic conspirator who tried
For many characters, however, the Tower of London was the last thing they ever saw. Its rooms saw the executions of “The Little Princes”, Edward V and his brother Richard of Shewsbury, Duke of York; Thomas More, whose head was displayedfu esposta on London Bridge for a month; William Hastings, for conspiring against Richard III; Anne Boleyn and her sister Jane for committing adultery against Henry VIII; Margaret Pole, the 8th Countess of Salisbury, because her family was threatening the throne; Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII: Lady Jane Grey, whose reign lasted for only nine days and who was then executed on the orders of “Bloody Mary”, Queen Mary I; Robert Devereux, accused of treason by Queen Elizabeth I. The last in chronological order was the German spy Josef Jakobs on 14th August 1941.
These days the castle is an interesting museum, hosting the Crown Jewels, moved here from Westminster by Edward I, and a vast collection of weapons and armoury.
Some interesting facts:
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Piccadilly Circus is the heart of London. There’s a reason why the locals have nicknamed it “the hubcentro, perno of the world”. A West End junction sparkling day and night with brightly-lit advertising boards, it has become an integral part of the panorama of the British capital. The site is where four main arteries in the city cross: Shaftesbury Avenue, the theatre street which stretchessi estende to the exclusive Soho; Haymarket, which comes straight from Trafalgar Square, the historic square where the imposing Nelson’s Column stands tall; Piccadilly Street which takes you to the grand parks and Regent Street, the popular shopping street; and Leicester Square, famous for its film premieres.
In the 17th century there were a lot of tailors in the area, devoted solely to the production of piccadills, lace collars used by the nobility. It was from this activity that the famous square got its name, created in 1819 on the site where there was a house and private garden at the crossroad with Regent Street, under the design of John Nash. The square then acquired its circular form in 1886 with the construction of Shaftesbury Avenue.
The modern advertising boardscartelloni pubblicitari these days sit side-by-side with period buildings and the aluminium statue of the Angel of Christian Charity, erected by Sir Alfred Gilbert in 1893 in memory of the philanthropist 7th Duke of Shaftesbury. A number of places of interest to tourists are situated near each other in the square, like the Trocadero shopping centre inside the imposing London Pavilion, built in 1853 between Shaftesbury Avenue and Coventry Street, which is a popular centre for big shows and other entertainment in London.
On the southern end of the square sits the beautiful Criterion Theatre, built in 1874, which returns to British architectural and cultural heritage, and is classified as a Grade II listed building.
The old Tower Records building is located between Piccadilly Street and Regent Street, but it has been replaced by various well-known names in the world of popular music, first the Virgin Megastore and more recently Zawi. Zawi has been hit by the current financial crisis, however, and is closing its stores all over the country, so the future of the store in Piccadilly Circus is uncertain.The clubs and restaurants in the square offer an endless choice, and even the underground can’t be missed for any reason.
Tube:Covent Garden, Charing Cross, Leicester Square.
Situated in the heart of the West End, Covent Garden is the centre of London’s entertainment, cultural and artistic scene, as well as a shopping destination for fashion clothes. The square was originally the site of a fruit and vegetable market, but in 1631 a palladian style covered market was designed by architect Inigo Jones, commissioned by the fourth Duke of Bedford.
Since 1974, the original fruit and vegetable market has been trading at the New Covent Garden Market in Wandsworth, Nine Elms, beside the River Thames. The old Covent Garden is now
On the other hand the distinctive streets of Covent Garden is a great place for clothes shopping: from well-known, expensive boutiques, to trendy high street stores like the big
The biggest park in London is very well tended and is ideal for spending the day relaxing outdoors or playing sport. In summer it becomes the main destination for Londoners who
The park’s total span is 2.5 km2, and it takes in the area of Kensington Gardens and all the waterways including the famous Serpentine lake. It is bordered to the north by Bayswater and Notting Hill; to the north-west by Greater London, the metropolitan area; then to the south by South Kensington and Knightsbridge; towards the west by the West End until Hyde Park Corner; and to the east by Picadilly Street and Belgravia. Hyde Park is now part of the “Royal Parks of London”, the royal parks which are the property of the Queen.
The park was initially used as a game reserve for the London gentryaristocrazia minore, alta borghesia. In 1536 Henry VIII, thanks to his law abolishing monastries, dispossessed the canons of Westminster Abbey, owners of the land since the 11th century. In the 16th century James I authorized limited access to the park, meanwhile Charles I in 1637 opened it completely to the public, changing forever the way it was used.
Under George III the royal court was transferred from Whitehall to Kensington Palace, even though Kensington in those days was a small village some distance from the city. Out of necessity Rotten Row was built, the first street in England to be illuminated at night, and the splendid Kensington Gardens were created.
Great Russell Street - (0)20 7323 8299
The British Museum is the oldest museum in the world. There are more than 13 million objects and documents from every part of the planet, and a wealth of exhibits. About five million people every year visit the museum which is one of the best museums of human history and civilisation in the world. The British Museum opened its doors to the public in 1759, to show the private collection of physicist and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It was a truly exceptional event for its time.
The Museum contains a library which boastsvanta over 350 thousand volumes among its different sections, and the museum itself is so big that it has to be divided into large departments:
Millbank - 020 7887 8888 Tube: Pimlico, Vauxhall
“The home of British art from 1500 to the present day”
Situated in a neoclassical building designed by Sidney R. J. Smith and built in 1897, the Tate Britain is the original Tate Gallery and houses the biggest collection of British art in the world.
There is over half a century of British art history within its walls, including many portraits of royalty starting from the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, there are paintings by William Hogarth, the father of English painting, others by Gainsborough, Reynolds, and George Stubbs. As well as artists of the calibre of JMW Turner, Thomas Gainsborough, John Constable, the Pre-Raffaellites, William Blake, David Hockney, Francis Bacon, Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth and contemporary works in the Art Now series.
The gallery pays particular attention to three artists from the Romantic period: Blake, Constable and Turner. Blake and Constable have dedicated spaces inside the gallery, while Turner is represented by a collection of about 300 paintings and many thousands of watercolours in
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