London is the capital of the United Kingdom, one of the largest and one of the world’s most enjoyable cities. It offers the tourists an astonishing variety of scene. In this historic city the modern rubs shoulders with the old, the present is ever conscious of the past, the great and the small live side by side in mutual tolerance and respect.
London is more than 20 centuries old. Its buildings express all the different areas of its history, for London manages in a unique way to reflect its past and at the same time to fulfil the functions of a modern city.
The City, the oldest part of London, is the commercial and financial centre of the country. Westminster is the political heart of London. The West End is the richest and the most beautiful part of London, the symbol of wealth and luxury, where the most expensive hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs are situated. The East End is the industrial part. There are many factories, workshops and shipyards there.
London offers the visitors a great variety of places of interest. It’s a city of dream to everybody interested in the English history and culture.
World famous places are the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, the Tower of London and so on and so forth.
The Houses of Parliament, a symbol of London, spread magnificently on the north bank of the Thames. This structure is a remarkable example of Gothic architecture. The Clock Tower called «Big Ben», is known the world over. Its hour bell is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first Commissioner of Works. The Houses of Parliament, called officially the Palace of Westminster, were formally a palace for kings and queens. Until the 16th century it was used both as a royal residence and as a parliament house. After the royal family moved to Whitehall Palace, the Westminster Palace was occupied by the Parliament and became its permanent home.
Opposite the Houses of Parliament Westminster Abbey is situated. It’s a national shrine where the kings and queens are crowned and famous people are buried. It was founded by Edward the Confessor in 1050. The construction lasted 300 years. One of the greatest treasures of the Abbey is the oaken Coronation Chair made in 1300, Near the West Door of the Abbey the Unknown Warrior lies in a simple grave commemorating the men who died in the First World War. The memorials to G. G. Byron, R. Burns, W. Shakespeare, W. M. Thackeray, W. Scott attract tourists to the Poets’ Corner.
Londoners have a particular affection for St. Paul’s Cathedral, the largest Protestant Church in England. It is an architectural masterpiece of the eminent architect Sir Christopher Wren. It stands on the site of the former Saxon and Norman churches destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1656.The building was completed in 1710. Wren is buried under the roof of his own great work. «If you want to see his monument, look around», is written on his tomb.
Trafalgar Square is a place of pilgrimage for visitors. It’s the natural centre of London. It is usually full of visitors feeding the pigeons and looking at the statues and fountains. In the middle of the square we can see Nelson’s Column with the statue of Nelson at the top. This monument was erected to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 where he defeated the French and Spanish fleets. The pedestal of the Column is decorated with bas- reliefs representing Nelson’s most famous victories. Here in Trafalgar Square the National Gallery is situated. It contains an outstanding collection of paintings from British, Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch and other famous schools.
The Tower of London is also a real attraction for tourists. It is one of the first and most impressive castles built after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. William the Conqueror built it to protect the City of London. The Tower has been used as a royal palace, an observatory, an arsenal, a state prison where many famous people have been executed. It is now a museum where one can see the Crown Jewels, the finest precious stones of the nation and a fine collection of armour, exhibited in the Keep. The security of the Tower is ensured by «Beefeaters» or the Yeoman Warders who still wear their picturesque Tudor uniform. A lot of ancient traditions and customs are carefully kept in the Tower.
And it is true to the whole city. In every part of London you can find a very genuine affection for national traditions.