London: A Modern City Steeped In History
London, England is one of the most historic cities in the entire world. During my recent visit there, I learned that throughout its nearly 2,000 years of existence, London has evolved and adapted, and has long been one of the most dynamic cities around. The city’s rich history, coupled with its ability to modernize with times, has led to its standing as not only one of the world’s largest cities, but also one of the most popular for tourists. There are plenty of great places to visit on a tour to England, but no trip would be complete without a holiday in London. The following are my personal recommendations among the literally thousands of points of interest that this incredible city has to offer.
I quickly understood that if a person is to truly understand London, he or she must learn its history. There are many sites that date back close to 1,000 years or more, starting with one of the most famous: the Tower of London. This fortress is legendary for its status as a watchman upon the River Thames. Founded in 1066, it’s less of a traditional “tower” and more of a citadel that protected William The Conqueror against his foes. Over the years, it’s served as a prison and is currently a museum. No holiday in London would be complete without a trip to the Tower of London.
Quite close to the Tower of London is Tower Bridge, which has served as one of the symbols of the city since its construction was completed toward the end of the 19th century. It is one of the most iconic symbols of not only London the city, but also England as a whole. When constructed, it was seen as a sign of Victorian London’s ingenuity and prosperity. A drive or a walk across this magnificent bridge is a must for anyone visiting the city.
For anyone planning a holiday in London, visiting churches is a must. Even for a non-religious person, the churches within the city can allow for the scope and grandeur of medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture littered throughout the cities churches. Two of the most famous examples are Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Westminster Abbey holds the status of being the home for almost every British Royal ordination over the years. It is also the final resting place for many of England’s greatest writers, scientists, and artists over the years. People such as Isaac Newton, William Shakespeare, and Geoffrey Chaucer have all been buried in this church that’s dated back to 1245. “Poet’s Corner” (where many famous writers are buried and have memorials) was one of my personal favorite parts of my visit. Another highlight of any holiday in London is St. Paul’s Cathedral is a domed church that was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London (1666) destroyed the old structure. Boasting one of the largest domes of any church in the world, this awe-inspiring Baroque building was designed by the great British architect Christopher Wren.
Wrapping up the historical perspective of London comes the Palace of Westminster, commonly known of the Houses of Parliament (due to the fact that British government meets in its halls). Undoubtedly the most enduring symbol of the city, this building features Elizabeth Tower (often mistakenly referred to as Big Ben). This tower is used in many establishing shots within movies; when you see Elizabeth Tower, you know you’re looking at London. Big Ben is actually the name of the largest bell within said tower. No holiday in London is truly finished without a visit to this location. Now that the history has been established as a reason to visit London, it should be said that it’s certainly not a city that’s stuck in the past. It’s most definitely one of the most modern cities in the world, boasting a lively nightlife, many top level shopping establishments, and one of the most renowned theater districts in existence. While London definitely has a lot to offer to the history buffs out there among us, you don’t need to enjoy or even know much about history to love a holiday in London. With everything that London has to offer, it’s indisputably one of the most popular vacation destinations for people looking to experience all that life has to offer. Whether you’re looking for a live history lesson, making a religious pilgrimage, or just looking to experience a big city and all its amenities, a holiday in London is certainly going to offer you all you’re looking for, and then some.