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Big Ben is the nickname for the Great Bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster that was completed in 1858. It holds the title of the largest four-faced chiming clock in the world as well as the third tallest free-standing clock tower.
The Palace of Westminster is the meeting place of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, and was first built in the Middle Ages before being demolished and rebuilt in the 1840’s. Commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, the Palace is now one of the centre’s of politics in the United Kingdom. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade 1 listed building since 1970 and it is now part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although there is no casual access to the interior of the Palace, UK residents can obtain tickets from an MP for a place in the viewing gallery of the House of Commons. Overseas Visitors and UK residents can also book tickets for tours of the Palace during the summer recess where they can access the state rooms, as well as the chambers of the House of Lords and House of Commons.
St Paul’s Cathedral is a Church of England cathedral, the seat of the Bishop of London and the mother church of the Diocese of London. Sitting at the highest point in the City of London, the present church dates back to the late 17th Century, where it was rebuilt after the Great Fire of London. The cathedral is one of the most famous and most recognisable sights of London, with its dome, framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, dominating the skyline for 300 years standing at 365 feet high.
As the second largest church building in the United Kingdom, the cathedral has held many important services including the funerals of Lord Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher, and the weddings of Charles, Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer.
Visitors can access the cathedral at a charge (free to worshippers) Monday to Saturday, where they can discover the cathedral’s history, architecture and daily life of a busy working church through multimedia guides.
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One of London’s most popular and iconic tourist attractions, the Tower of London, is a great way to spend a family day out learning about the history of the Royals and the Tower’s past. Built by William the Conqueror in 1078, it is a historic castle that is located on the north bank of the River Thames in central London.
Used as a prison until 1952 and now classed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the tower is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Crown Jewels are currently stored in the Waterloo Barracks at the Tower, as they have been since 1669 and the Tower is now also home to the ceremonial regimental headquarters of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. With guided tours by Yeomen Warders, a shop and a café, the tower is visited by over 2.4 million people each year.
The London Eye, also known as the Millennium Wheel, was built in 2000 to celebrate the millennium and now over 3.5 million visitors use it each year. Originally named the British Airways London Eye, it is now owned and managed by EDF Energy and is now named the EDF Energy London Eye.
Standing at 443ft tall with a diameter of 394ft, it is currently Europe’s tallest Ferris wheel, and when it was built in 1999, it was the tallest in the world. With 32 sealed and air conditioned oval capsules, visitors can see each area of London, and they are free to walk about, although seating is provided. Each revolution of the wheel takes around 30 minutes with a rotation of 26 cm per second, and it does not normally stop to take passengers on as the rotations are slow enough to walk on and off. However it does stop to allow disabled and elderly passengers to embark and disembark.
With easy access to the underground from Waterloo, Charing Cross, Embankment and Westminster, visitors can access the Eye from locations across London.