Monday, March 3, 2008


London, the Capital of Great Britain

Tower Bridge in LondonThe Tower Bridge in London is one of the most recognised bridges in the world.

A Grey city?

London the capital of Great Britain is represented by the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and the Big Ben as well as many other monuments of international stature. All these are old and rich enough in history to represent a city that itself is old and rich. The city of London is so formal that while in London even youngsters wear their formals keeping their casuals for another European City. The fashion craze; prevalent among cities of its stature is noted by its absence here. Parisians the so called head-quarter of fashion; scorn off London as ‘Grey London’; they may be forgiven for their over enthusiasm because they don’t know what they are saying!

Sight seeing unlimited

Millions of tourists from all over the world visit London to see the numerous monuments (all highly visible and famous) that dot all around the city and revenue from tourism remain to be a very important source to London. This city has the credit of having four World Heritage Sites like the Palace of West Minister, Tower of London, Greenwich and the Royal Botanic Garden. The other wonderful sites are Tower Bridge, The Oxford University, Chartwell Palace (the official residence of Sir Winston Churchill), The River Thames, London eye (the mega giant wheel etc.

Still a super-power!

When it comes to finance, education, trade and commerce London is not old and grey as its detractors say; it is a vibrant and ticking Metropolis. Its age has only imparted maturity to the city that is still at the helm international business. Even after the colonial era it retains its status as one of the world’s most happening places.

With a population of 8.25 million; London scores as the most populous municipality in the European Union; where as the Greater London known as the Urban Area has around 14 million people living in it. London Stock Exchange (LSE) is one of the largest in volume of stocks traded and number of listings. London Metal Exchange (LME) is the place where the prices of all metals are determined internationally. It is head quarter to the world’s leading banks and world’s whole banking systems look at LIBOR (London International Offer Rate) for fixing interest rates.

Londoner’s own ‘Tube’

The heart of the city is called ‘City of London’ while the urban area is Greater London. The city has four air ports; Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton and Standard; Heathrow is the hub of international flights. Many private airlines operate along with national carrier the British Airways making the skyline of London the busiest in the world. But for a common Londoner it is not the airways that is near and dear to him but the ‘Tube’ that takes him to places. The Metro Rail (from 1863) that passes criss crossing the city of London from beneath (hence they call it ‘the Tube’) is the oldest in the world but is in no way behind any service in efficiency.


The world has different timings in various places but the Greenwich stands as a standard; it can be said as the center of the earth! The Greenwich observatory (palace) is located in southeast of London; and is a World Heritage Site. Originally the palace (now that functions as Royal Observatory under the Greenwich Foundation) was built for the Tudor Kings; Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born in this palace. Later it was made the Royal Naval Hospital for sailors, then as Royal Naval College; and finally handed over to the Greenwich Foundation.

The Eurostar

The ‘Eurostar Rail’ which crosses the English Channel through a tunnel dug under the sea-bed connects Britain with the European continent. Its importance is that the Eurostar set a trend in speed and luxury in railway and many other nations followed the suit. This rail connects London and Kent of Britain with Paris and Lille of France and Brussels at Belgium. The total fleet comprises of 18 super carriages which can run in 186 Miles (300 km) per hour. It starting point was changed from Waterloo to St Pancras with the completion of ‘Speed 1 project in November 14, 2007.International in Britain.

Channel Tunnel or Chunnel or Euro Tunnel

It is an under-sea channel crossing the English Channel from beneath at the Straight of Dover. This system has three separate tunnels; each 30 meters apart. Two of them with 7.6 meters diameter and a lone service track with 4.8 meter diameter. The total length of the tunnel is 50.450 km (31.35 miles) and it is the second after Seikan Tunnel of Japan. One consolation to the Chunnel is that when under-sea portion alone if measured it comes first! The Chunnel has been claimed by some of it’s admires as One of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World

The best things in life come free!

Britain has many cherished possessions in technological fronts but it is the cultural and historical wealth makes the real London. When intellectual and historical wealth is taken in to account; there is no parallel to the City of London; no technology can compensate heritage. It has hundreds of art galleries and museums for the exhibiting those wealth. British Museum, National Art-Gallery, Natural History Museum, Great Britain Art-Gallery etc are some of them; entry to all four of them is free!

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham PalaceBuckingham Palace is the official residence of the Queen of the United Kingdom in London.

This palace was built in 1850 by Edward Blore for The Duke of Buckingham; at present it serves as the residence of British Monarchs. This palace is venue for state ceremonies and royal functions. It is a major rallying center for the public at the time or national rejoicing as well as crisis. The

Buckingham Palace is also one of the most popular tourist spot in Britain.

The Tower of London, or ‘The Tower’

The icon of London; located in the western bank of River Thames; built by William the Conqueror in 1078 as a fortress; this complex of several structures have served many dialectical roles; like Royal Palace, prison for high profile prisoners, fortress, a place for torturing, Royal Mint, a place for execution, a zoo, as an armory, Royal Treasury etc.

Madam Tussauds Wax Museum

Madam Tussauds Wax MuseumMadam Tussauds Wax Museum image courtesy:

This museum with thousands of human sized models of celebrities has been one of the major tourist attractions of London. Mary Tussaud who learned the art of wax modeling from one French doctor by name Philippe Curtius; it has grown up as one of the greatest art museums in the world. The Wax Museum is located at Marylebone Road, London. At present it is owned by a leisure company by name Merlin Entertainments and it has branches in Berlin, Hong Kong, Shanghai and New York etc.

London Eye

The London EyeThe London Eye

London Eye is one of the most spectacular contraptions installed by British Airways on the banks of Thames; this is a mega giant wheel offering a ‘circular cruise’ lasting 40 minutes. The giant wheel and the cradles are so big that hundreds of people can simultaneously sit and watch the London City and take as many photographs of the cherished monuments as the wheel goes up.

West Minister Palace

 Houses of ParliamentThe Houses of Parliament - London

This magnificent structure was first built in 1050 and has served as the king’s residence twice; the nearby tower is nicknamed as the Big Ben. As the original structure was destroyed in a fire the present structure was built between 1840 -1860 by Charles Barry. The two houses of British Parliament are housed in this palace. The whole palace occupies 8 acres and has 11 courtyards. It remains to be a very important landmark in London.

River Thames

River Thames is in no way less important in its heritage; it is even called the ‘liquid history’. There is no scarcity for beer taverns on both sides of it; some of these pubs are as two centuries! See the love of Londoners towards age a pub that is more aged attracts better clients. An ordinary Londoner best wish is to sip some beer in one of these taverns in the company of an old time friends (age matters in friendship also).

The Tower Bridge

The Tower Bridge is no ordinary bridge; it is a magnificent work of art; it is iconic symbol of London built across River Thames; located very close to ‘The Tower’ and hence the name; opened for traffic in 1894; maintained by Bridge House Estate a non profit organization. The total length of this bridge is 800 feet (244meters) and its longest span is 200 feet in length.

St. Paul’s Cathedral

One of the most important landmarks of the City of London; located in Ludgate Hill; it is the residence of the Bishop of London; built of port-land stone in the great renaissance style; dome built in the St. Peter’s Basilica model. The original structure had been there since late Roman times and since it had undergone several reconstructions.

Lambeth Palace

Lambeth Palace is the official London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Millennium Dome (The O2 Entertainment District)

It is the largest dome ever built; built to welcome the third millennium and was opened for public in January 1, 2000; the exhibition lasted up to December 31; as the show failed to arouse the expected enthusiasm among public the hall was demolished and the dome remains as the show piece of the ‘O2 Entertainment District’.

Hyde Park

It is one of the Royal Parks in England and the largest park in London, has turned out to be a favorite location for demonstrators; many of the public rallies assemble here before taking to processions. It was a former deer park for hunting and covers an area 350 acres; this park was opened for public in 1637.

Globe Theater

This is for Shakespeare buffs; built as a reconstruction of the 1599 model open theater where William Shakespeare worked and he wrote most of his great plays. Here during the season (April to October) there is great opportunity for lovers of good drama to enjoy classic plays from Shakespeare and his contemporaries; works by modern authors are also played.

Because it is London!

The Swaminarayan Hindu Temple in NeasdenThe Swaminarayan Hindu Temple in Neasden

A hurried trip may better kept for other cities but not for London because it is not just hype and glitter but things of real worth that should be understood and appreciated. Those who can spare a full five day vacation can utilize those full days in a worthy ways like enjoying a cruise on the River Thames, sipping some beer in one of the old taverns, watching a show the Globe Theater, a ride on the London eye, sight seeing in Hyde Park, Trafalgar Square. Royal Botanical Garden and so and so; there is no end to the list; because it is London the capital of an empire where the sun did not set! Be a part of it at least for some days.

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