A Guest Post by London Pass
London is a historical hub and a centre of culture so when visitors arrive in the city they expect the cobbled streets to whisper the secrets and scandals of centuries gone by. Sightseeing city card company London Pass has delved into London’s unique history and picked out five of the best attractions in and around the capital.
Tower of London
Arguably one of London’s most popular attractions, the Tower of London goes all the way back to the days of William the Conqueror and Richard the Lionheart. Passing through the hands of many rulers and sovereigns, it’s no surprise that the building’s purpose and influence over the city has radically changed over time, from a stronghold, to a zoo – and more memorably, a prison…
Learn about the gory history from those who lost their heads in execution, to the most notorious prisoners. It’s not all about blood and brutality though, the Tower of London is most famous for housing the priceless Crown Jewels, the most monarchic symbol in the UK.
Visit the exhibitions and events over the summer and learn about the history of the Royal Mint and the Line of Kings – the world’s longest-running exhibition.
Not to be confused with London Bridge, Tower Bridge is a feat of London’s industrial ingenuity with its hydraulic bascules (draw bridges) and 11,000 tonne steel framework.
Over 128 years old, Tower Bridge was built as a solution to ease East End congestion with both roads and foot passages. As a landmark of architectural glory, it was given a facelift in celebration of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee, from brown to blue, white and red. Much more patriotic!
Now you can explore the high level walkways and admire the views over the River Thames, as well as gain an interesting insight into the history of the bridge through an exhibition and photo gallery.
As one of London’s most impressive buildings, Westminster Abbey is not only a stunning Gothic church, but a UNESCO World Heritage Site with hundreds of years of history. As one of the most important churches in the city, it has played host to numerous national events, royal weddings and influential ceremonies.
Westminster Abbey celebrated over 1,000 years of worship – and some believe it might even date as far back as 785 with some evidence of an abbey on an islet in the Thames. Now, the Abbey is the resting place of some of Britain’s most prominent figureheads from royals and poets, to scientists and politicians. Explore the graves of Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens, even Sir Isaac Newton.
Most recently it was the church in which Kate and Wills, the Duchess and Duke of Cambridge, got married. And what a splendid affair that was!
Slightly outside London lies the Queen’s preferred weekend residence; Windsor Castle. As the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world, it’s a must-see for any visitor to London – and definitely worth the trip. Handed down through a line of Kings and Queens, the castle has undergone years of restoration following a destructive fire and, let’s be honest, clashes in personal ‘decorative’ taste!
The State Apartments are testament to the extravagance of the royals and you can see priceless paintings and portraits of the monarchs who made Windsor Castle their home.
Hampton Court Palace
When you think of King Henry VIII, you think of Hampton Court Palace – or you should. With a (in)famous reputation that proceeds him, this King was one of the most memorable of the monarchy. With die-hard habits and a ruthless character, he helped transform Hampton Court into what we see today.
One of the most impressive features of Hampton Court Palace – and certainly one of the most ridiculous – is the huge kitchen! Known for his appetite, Henry’s kitchen was equipped to cook for up to 600 guests, at least twice a day, so you can imagine the size. You can still explore this kitchen today, as well as the hedgerow maze and 60 acres of manicured gardens, including a vineyard.
Make the most of your sightseeing experience with a London Pass and you can enjoy all of these London landmarks for free.