A Visit to London


A view of the Thames
A view of the Thames

London is a huge, vibrant & multicultural. It was the Romans who gave impetus to the settlement with the foundation of the important strategic fort of Londinium to defend the Thames from the Celtic tribes. The axis on which the city is based is composed of the Houses of Parliament or City of Westminster to the west and the City to the east. The City of London was where the Romans settled. The city of Westminster was the seat of government in the eleventh century. Both points were growing adding all the municipalities of the surroundings, at present they are 33, conforming a surface of 385 km2. The headquarters of the government is communicated with the City, the financial engine of London and of all the country, by the river Thames. There are 37 immigrant groups, composed of more than 10.000 people. More than 300 different languages ​​are spoken.



NOTTING HILL & KENSINGTON


Notting Hill is a district in West London known for being cosmopolitan and multicultural. It hosts annually the Notting Hill Carnival and Portobello Rd Market. Since 1870 it has been an artist place, the large houses were subdivided into multi-occupancy rentals. In the early 21st century it has a reputation as an affluent and fashionable area known for attractive terraces of large Victorian townhouses and high-end shopping and restaurants.


Teanamu Chaya Tea House. If you are looking for drinking tea this great place was voted as one of the top afternoon tea places in London. The place is run by Pei Wang, a tea expert, who enjoys sharing his knowledge of tea. Free tastings are offered.


Kensington Palace is a royal residence, located in the gardens of the same name. It houses several members of British royalty such as the Dukes of Kent, the Dukes of Gloucester and the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.


Serpentine Gallery is an art gallery in London, located in Kensington Gardens. Its exhibitions focus on modern and contemporary art.


Science Museum is a museum dedicated to science in London. It is part of the National Museum of Science and Industry. The museum is one of the tourist attractions of London.


The Natural History Museum has more than 70 million specimens and objects. The 5 most important collections are: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology and zoology. This museum is a reference research center worldwide, specializing in taxonomy, identification and conservation. Highlights include specimens collected by Charles Darwin. The museum is especially famous for its display of dinosaur skeletons as well as for its ornate architecture. It is known for its large central hall where skeletons of different dinosaurs are shown, a huge Diplodocus that dominates the entrance & a mastodon found in the Tagua Lagoon, Chile. The Museum was built between 1873 & 1880 to house the growing collection of skeletons, plants & fossils that made up a section of the British Museum. It was founded in 1881 as a division of the British Museum.


Harrods is a large warehouse located in Knightsbridge. Until 1998, it had a sister building built in Argentina during the great economic peak and the British-Argentine union of 1914. Harrods also owns the Harrods Bank, the Harrods Real Estate and the Harrods airline. One of its owners was the Egyptian magnate Mohamed Al-Fayed. Recently, these warehouses have been awarded the Imperial Mark, ancient royal certificate that has 300 years old.


The Saatchi Gallery features contemporary works of art in 12 expansive gallery spaces.


The Royal Hospital is a large teaching hospital. It is part of Barts Health NHS Trust. The Royal London was founded in September 1740 and was originally named the London Infirmary. The name changed to the London Hospital in 1748, and in 1990 to the Royal London Hospital. The first patients were treated at a house in Featherstone Street, Moorfields. In May 1741, the hospital moved to Prescot Street, and remained there until 1757 when it moved to its current location. The hospital's roof-top helipad is the London's Air Ambulance operating base.


Tate Britain is a museum that focuses on British masterpieces from the 16th to late-20th centuries.

Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the kings, also used for official ceremonies, state visits & sightseeing. It is famous for hosting a substantial part of the Royal Collection. Originally known as Buckingham House, was originally a petit hôtel built for the 1st Duke of Buckingham in 1703 & acquired by King George III in 1762 to makes it a private residence. In the following 75 years it underwent a series of extensions directed by the architects John Nash and Edward Blore (1850), creating 3 wings that make up an open central courtyard. During the 19th & 20th centuries some reforms were made for ex the current façade including the balcony from which the royal family greets. The original 19th-century Georgian interior, which is still preserved, consists of bright plaster inlaid with blue and pink lapis lazuli. Eduard VII redecorated the palace adding Belle Époque decoration in cream and gold tones. Some reception rooms are decorated in Chinese style with furniture from the Royal Pavilion of Brighton & Carlton House. The palace has 777 rooms & the palace gardens are the largest private gardens in London. The artificial lake was created in 1828 & receives water from Serpentine Lake, the lake that is located in Hyde Park.

Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey, or the Collegiate Church of St. Peter of Westminster, is an Anglican Gothic church the size of a cathedral. It is the traditional place for the coronations and burials of the English monarchs and, later, the British monarchs. The abbey also has many tombs of other members of the royal family, aristocrats and illustrious personalities. It does not receive public funds and its income for 1999-2000 was estimated at £8,7 million, including the tickets paid by more than 1.250.000 visitors. It employs about 200 people, in addition to 280 volunteers. Unesco named the abbey, together with the Palace of Westminster & the church of Santa Margarita, as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Palace of Westminster is also known as the House of Parliament, houses the 2 chambers of the Parliament (the House of Lords and the House of Commons) and the famous clock, the 'Big Ben' (a neo-Gothic wonder from the mid-19th century). It was declared UNESCO in World heritage in 1987. The palace initially served as a royal residence, but no monarch has lived there since the 16th century. Most of the current structure dates back to the 19th century, when the palace was rebuilt after the 1834 fire, which destroyed most of it. The building is an example of the neo-Gothic style, with the notable feature of its clock tower. The palace contains more than 1.000 rooms, the most important being the Halls of the House of Lords & the House of Commons. The palace also includes meeting rooms, libraries, corridors, dining rooms, bars and gyms. It is the place where important state ceremonies are held, of which the most important is the Opening Ceremony of the Parliament. The palace is closely associated with the two Chambers, as evidenced by the use of the word "Westminster" to refer to "Parliament".

Westminster
Westminster

Horse Guard Parade is a large square where it takes place the annual “Trooping the Color” ceremony, the celebration of the sovereign's official birthday & the Beating Retreat. It was formerly part of a courtyard of the Palace of Whitehall that is used to host parades during the reign of Henry VIII. Here also the annual celebrations for the birthday of Elizabeth I took place. The area has been used for various parades, ceremonies and magazines of troops since the 17th century, although it has been used preferably as the headquarters of the British Navy. The Duke of Wellington, during his stay at the head of the British forces, stayed at Horse Guards. During much of the 20th century, the square was used for the parking of high public officials, but this custom was abolished in the 90s because of the mortar attack by the Provisional Irish Republican Army carried out against the 10 Downing Street on February 7, 1991. The shots were fired from a vehicle parked on Horse Guards Avenue next to Horse Guards Parade. Currently, parking is not allowed in the entire area. Every morning the ceremony of Changing of the Guard takes place at Horse Guards Parade (11:00 Monday - Saturday, 10:00 Sunday).


CONVENT GARDEN & SOHO


Trafalgar Square: a central square of London created in 1830 to commemorate the victory of the British navy, in which the British army defeated the French and Spanish navies off Cape Trafalgar.

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

National Gallery: it contains over 2.000 Western European classics by Van Gogh, Renoir, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and others.


National Portrait Gallery: established on 1856 displaying the portraits of great Britons from the areas of military, politics, arts, literature and science.


Whittards of Chelsea. Walter Whittard established his tea company back in 1886 so they have strong London tea connections.


The Tea Palace is a modern tea emporium in Covent Garden Piazza.


The Tea House at Neal Street sells many tea varieties from around the world as well as associated tea paraphernalia. The novelty teapots remain a popular buy and the shop always smells nice.


The East India Company was established 400 years ago in the reign of Queen Elizabeth.


The Royal Institution of Great Britain is an organization devoted to scientific education & research. It was founded in 1799. Its foundational principles were diffusing the knowledge of useful mechanical inventions and improvements, enhancing the application of science to the common purposes of life.


Yumchaa believes the key factor for a great cup of tea is “the leaf, the water and the freedom for the two to mingle”. Top tea: Berry Berry Nice, a Rooibos tea with notes of blueberry, blackberry, strawberry, rhubarb, kiwi, vanilla and rose petals.


MAYFAIR & BLOOMSBURY


Postcard Teas: owned by Timothy d'Offay who has dedicated himself to all things tea. He travels the world to bring back the best tea and accessories for this delightful tea shop close to Oxford Street.


The Wallace Collection Museum of fine art has works from 15th through 19th century.


The Royal Academy of Music: experience centuries of creativity and craftsmanship, with fine instruments and objects that have inspired music-making from the 16th century to the present day.


The Wellcome Collection: artifacts that seek to find connections between medicine, life and art. There are historical medical tools and rare and stunning artwork.


The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 150–200 million items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, it receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom & Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. It contains a major research library, with items in many languages and formats, both print and digital: books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings. The Library's collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 2000 BC. In addition to receiving a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland (approximately 8.000 per day), the Library has a program for content acquisitions. The Library adds some three million items every year occupying 9,6km of new shelf space. There is space in the library for over 1.200 readers. The Library is now located in a purpose-built building on the north side of Euston Rd. in St Pancras and has a document storage center and reading room near Boston Spa, near Wetherby in West Yorkshire.


Univerity College London / University of London: UCL is a public research university. It’s a constituent college of the federal University of London and is the 3rd largest university in the UK by total enrolment and largest by postgraduate enrolment. Established in 1826 as London University by founders inspired by the radical ideas of Jeremy Bentham, UCL was the 1st university institution to be established in London, the 1st in England to be entirely secular, to admit students regardless of their religion and the first to admit women, and it makes the contested claims of being the 3rd oldest university in England. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Neurology (in 1997), the Royal Free Hospital Medical School (in 1998), the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999), the School of Slavonic & East European Studies (in 1999), the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) & the Institute of Education (in 2014).

The British Museum is a public institution dedicated to human history, art & culture. Its permanent collection numbers some 8 million works and is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present. It is the first national public museum in the world. It was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. It first opened to the public on Jan 15, 1759, in Montagu House, on the site of the current building. Its expansion over the following 2½ centuries was largely a result of expanding British colonization and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the 1st being the British Museum, the Natural History Museum in 1881. As with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee, except for loan exhibitions. Its ownership of some of its most famous objects originating in other countries is disputed and remains the subject of international controversy, most notably in the case of the Parthenon Marbles.

The British Museum
The British Museum

Freemasons Hall is the headquarters of the United Grand Lodge of England and the Supreme Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons of England, being a meeting place for many Masonic Lodges in the London area. It is located in Great Queen Street between Holborn and Covent Garden and has been a Masonic meeting place since 1775. There have been 3 Masonic buildings on the site, with the current incarnation being opened in 1933. Parts of the building are open to the public daily and its preserved classic Art Deco style, together with its regular use as a film and television location, have made it a tourist destination. In 1846, the World Evangelical Alliance was founded here.


Whetstone Park


SOUTH BANK


BFI British Film Institute's Mediatheque is a non-profit organization founded in 1933 and established by Royal Decree to “encourage the development of the arts of cinema, television and moving image throughout the United Kingdom, promote its use as a record of contemporary life and customs, promote education on film, television and the image in motion in general , and its impact on society; promote access and appreciation of the broadest range of British and world cinema, and establish, care for and develop collections that reflect the history and heritage of the moving image of the United Kingdom”.


The London Eye is a cantilevered observation wheel on the South Bank of the River Thames . It is Europe's tallest cantilevered observation wheel, is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the UK and has over 3,75 million visitors annually. The structure is 135m tall & the wheel has a diameter of 120 m. When it opened to the public in 2000 it was the world's tallest Ferris wheel. It was surpassed by the 160m Star of Nanchang in 2006, the 165m Singapore Flyer in 2008 and the 167,6m High Roller in Las Vegas in 2014.



LONDON CITY


Gresham College: the college has been doling free lectures for more than 400 years. The college now arranges 140 talks a year on every topic from law to divinity to astronomy.


Sir John Soane's Museum: John Soane was an English architect who specialized in the Neo-Classical style.


The Hunterian Museum is named after John Hunter, who was one of the first people to apply scientific method to surgery.


Somerset House: a famous courtyard and Georgian building. Check the 2 elegant staircases, the balcony views of the Thames, and the small basement gallery. In the summer, the dancing fountains are a joy. £3 on Mondays.


Twinings Tea Shop: this tea company has had a shop on The Strand in London since 1717. There is a small museum, which charts the history of the family.


Temple Church: origins dating from 12th century. It's a distinctive place, built by crusading monks.


Shakespeare's Globe. The Globe Theater was built in 1599 by Peter Street on the banks of the River Thames outside the city of London. Of approximately 30m in diameter, there was space for 3.350 spectators. The stage was a rectangle that protruded from the circumference of the construction and invaded the proscenium sector. It measured approximately 13m wide x 8m deep x 1 ½m high. It had two trap doors through which the stage was reached by the lower part of the stage. The bottom part of the stage was known as “hell” and there appeared and disappeared supernatural characters such as the ghost of Hamlet. Above these doors was a balcony that was used for the Romeo & Juliet scene. When in 1597 the license of that theater expired (the first of the Elizabethan period) its owner, James Burbage, had to move it from the other side of the River Thames changing its name. Like most of the theaters of the time the theater constructions were without a roof which prevented the presentations on rainy days, for this reason and because of the cold of the winter, the theater only worked during the summer (from May to October) while the light of day lasted. The presentations were carried out during the weekends and they began approximately at 2pm until nightfall. The locations cost from 1 penny in the proscenium to 6 for the audience. This theater served as a welcome to the theater company Lord Chamberlain's Men in which the famous playwright William Shakespeare participated. This site had the honor of being the cradle of works such as King Lear, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, etc. The theater caught fire in 1613 and was destroyed; however it was immediately rebuilt in 1614 and demolished in 1644 under the shadows of the re-born English Puritanism that condemned the theatrical performances of the Elizabethan era. In 1997 the theater reopened its doors under the name of Shakespeare's Globe Theater respecting the forms of the old construction. The site is located about 200m from the site where it opened its doors for the 1st time. Like the original, only theatrical works are exhibited during the summer season, but unlike that, it only has capacity for 1.500 people.

The Globe
The Globe

The Tate Modern is Britain's National Gallery of international modern and contemporary art. It’s the biggest in the world. Tate holds the national collection of British art from 1900 to the present day. As with the UK's other national galleries and museums, there is no admission charge for access to the collection displays. The gallery is London’s 2nd most-visited attraction, behind the British Museum, pulling in approximately 5,5 million visitors annually.


Saint Paul’s is an Anglican cathedral, the seat of the Bishop and the mother church of the Diocese of London. It sits on Ludgate Hill at the highest point of the city. Its dedication to Paul the Apostle dates back to the original church on this site, founded in AD 604. The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed in the English Baroque style by Sir Christopher Wren. Its construction, completed in Wren's lifetime, was part of a major rebuilding program in the City after the Great Fire of London. The cathedral building, largely destroyed in the Great Fire and now often referred to as Old St Paul's Cathedral, was a central focus for medieval and early modern London, including Paul's walk and St. Paul's Churchyard being the site of St. Paul's Cross. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognizable sights of London. Its dome, framed by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 111m high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1967. St Paul's is the 2nd in the UK after Liverpool Cathedral.


The Museum of London contains objects ranging from Thames Valley geological history to Anglo-Saxons and 21st-century bankers. There’s a nice cafe in its garden.


The London Wall is the remnant of the Roman wall, which once formed part of the eastern defenses of the Roman Londinium Fort.