London's oldest attractions

Something for the history-buffs...

There are many things which distinguish London from Milton Keynes... not least amongst them is age.

Our fair capital is blessed with a huge choice of old and remarkable attractions which can consume and transport you back to a different era; living time-capsules which have endured through the ages and still deliver the same sense of wonder today as they did when they were first conceived.

If you have an overwhelming interest in sitting in traffic through an un-godly volume of roundabouts however, well then Milton Keynes should be your next stop.

The Palace of Westminster
House of Commons

AIL Says: When Westminster Hall was first built in 1097 it was actually too big for its purpose, as to avoid shouting to make themselves heard the members of Parliament and the Royals had to use smaller rooms. It's the only part of the Palace of Westminster which has survived the test of time in its original form (aside from the roof). Visitors can take tours through this fascinating building during the summer when Parliament is in recess, or any Saturday throughout the year.

Royal Observatory - Greenwich
Greenwich Park, Greenwich

AIL Says: Part of Sir Christopher Wren's huge London portfolio, the Royal Observatory has been here since 1675. It's also the home of Greenwich Mean Time, the site from where time differences around the world are calculated. The building is located atop a hill with spectacular views over Greenwich, and inside you'll find a museum dedicated to all things time-related as well as the Planetarium.

  • USERS 9/10
The Tower of London
Tower Hill

AIL Says: Throughout its infamous history the Tower of London has been a fortress, prison, castle, zoo and in more recent times a tourist attraction and live music venue. Construction began towards the end of the 11th century, and the White Tower is what remains of this period, making it nearly 2000 years old. This was where Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII was beheaded, and where the Kray twins were detained after their arrest in 1952.

The British Museum
Great Russell Street

AIL Says: Built in 1753, the British Museum is the oldest museum in the world as well as the capital's most popular attraction. The museum originated as a collection of Sir Han's Soane's 'curiosities', which included books, dried plants and stuffed animals, and grew to be the huge medley of items we know today. Within the museum one of the oldest exhibits is a stone chopping tool found in Tanzania, thought to be 2 million years old.

  • USERS 8/10
The Monument
Junction of Monument Street and Fish Street Hill

AIL Says: Located on the corner of Fish Street Hill in the City, the 60 metre tall Monument was built to commemorate the rebuilding of London after the fire of 1666 that devastated so much of the capital. But it's more than just a column reaching into the sky - inside there are 311 steps, at the top of which there are panoramic views over the city. Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, it was finished in 1677.

Guildhall Clockmakers' Museum
Guildhall, Aldermanbury

AIL Says: Guildhall was once as important as the Houses of Parliament, as the place where the City's government members gathered. Construction ended in 1440 although rebuilding was required after the Great Fire. Within its galleries are many paintings and statues of important historical figures as well as London's oldest relic: the remains of a Roman amphitheatre where gladiator fights once took place.

Clink Prison Museum
Clink Street

AIL Says: In its medieval heyday the Clink Prison housed London's most notorious criminals: prostitutes, heretics and drunkards. Built in 1144, weapons of torture like hot rods were routinely employed, and these are on display in the museum today. It is also where the phrase 'in the clink' comes from.

Buckingham Palace

AIL Says: Although it was built in 1703, Buckingham Palace only became the official royal residence when Queen Victoria decided to make it her home in 1837. Nowadays when Queen Elizabeth is in the Royal Standard flag flies at full mast. Among its suitably ornate rooms are the State Rooms where dignitaries and other royals are received, and the Chinese Dining Room, all furnished with classic paintings, ornate chandeliers and candelabras.

St. Paul's Cathedral

AIL Says: Construction on St. Paul's began in 1087, however the Great Fire of 1666 razed it to the ground. Sir Christopher Wren was in charge of designing the new cathedral, and once it was finished it was the tallest building in London until 1962, at a then impressive 111 metres. Although dwarfed by skyscrapers today, cliimbing the 270 steps it takes to get to the top still offers amazing views.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey

AIL Says: Nearly every king and queen in English history has been crowned here since 1066; it was also where Lady Diana was buried in 1997 and where Prince William married Kate in 2011. Naturally many parts of the church have been rebuilt and added to over the years, such as Nicholas Hawksmoor's western towers in the 1700s, but it remains one of the UK's most important gothic masterpieces.


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