London’s Famous Buildings
If you’ve never been to London, or have even been there several times, there are points of interest throughout the city that are worth checking out. London is not only rich in history, but offers wonderfully famous buildings. Visiting them during your trip is definitely a must. Perhaps one of the most famous buildings in London is Buckingham Palace. The home of Queen Elizabeth II, it has housed Britain’s sovereigns since 1837. Since then it has evolved from a mere town house that was once owned by the Dukes of Buckingham in the 18th century.
Other famous buildings that house London’s royalty are St. James Place, Clarence House, and also Kensington Palace. Kensington Palace was started in 1689 when William and Mary purchased the mansion shortly after their ascension. It was then converted to a royal palace by Sir Christopher Wren. Today half of the building is used for royal apartments while the other half is open to the public.
Sir Christopher Wren also designed and built St. Paul’s Cathedral following the Great Fire of 1666. It was left in ruins after the fire and Wren was commissioned to rebuild it by London’s authorities. This building is considered to be Wren’s greatest creation. The Tower of London had originally been built for use as a fortress to keep out hostile Londoners and to survey enemies who approached on the Thames river. Since then is has been used as a palace, library, mint, treasury, bank, arsenal, observatory, and, most famously, a prison. Westminster Abbey isn’t just one of the more beautiful of London’s famous buildings, but it is also the final resting place for some of Britain’s most famous monarchs, the setting for coronations, and also other wonderful pageants. Within its walls visitors can see great examples of London’s medical architecture, as well as an impressive collection of toms and monuments. Westminster Abby is perhaps most well-known for being the site of Princess Diana’s funeral. Completed in 1871, Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful structure that was modelled after Roman amphitheatres.
Today the hall is used for both classical concerts and other large gatherings. In 1514, the Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, started Hampton Court Palace with the intentions of it being a riverside country residence. But in 1535, with the hopes of gaining royal favour, Wolsey offered it to King Henry VIII. As with other famous buildings in London, Sir Christopher Wren once again had a hand in it when he was hired by William and Mary in the 1690’s to create its beautiful baroque landscapes. The No. 10 Downing Street houses Britain’s Prime Minister, who currently is Tony Blair. It began its service to Britain’s Prime Ministers when George II gave it to Sir Robert Walpole in 1732. Lastly is Harrod’s Department Store, and one of London’s most famous buildings. It began in 1849 when Henry Charles Harrod opened a small grocery store. Throughout the years the store’s quality and service has allowed it to expand and become what we know it as today.
Of course there are many other famous buildings, as well as some other lesser known, that are worth seeing on a trip to London. Make sure to do your research prior to leaving on your trip to make sure you are able to see the buildings that best match your interests.
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