London’s 5 Best Historical Attractions
Photos by Michelle Rae Uy
With its towering skyscrapers, the heavy traffic of pedestrians rushing to their 9-to-5s, and the steady hum of its intricately interconnected rail system, there’s no denying that the English capital is a bustling metropolis. Its long and at times dark past, however, leaves in its wake a number of historical sites that today make London a fantastic place for exploration to those who enjoy a travel back in time. When in the city, these five historical attractions are worth spending some time in.
The Tower of London
This beautiful yet imposing castle set along the northern bank of the Thames is one of London's most significant historical and cultural treasures. The Tower of London has roots all the way back to the 11th century and has witnessed some of the city's most important and most grim events, including the beheading of Anne Boleyn—said to now be haunting the White Tower—and the murder of King Edward IV's two sons. Today, the castle offers eerie glimpses to its dark history; but it's also home to the country's blindingly impressive Crown Jewels as well as the Royal Armouries. General admission starts at £23.10, but it's free with the London Pass.
The London Bridge Experience
The London Bridge is famous for a reason. It has been one of the city's most important landmarks. Spanning the River Thames to connect Southwark with the City of London, different versions of the bridge have always provided an effective way for settlers of the city to cross from north to south and vice versa. The Romans used their version for conquest, as did the Saxons; and over centuries, it has been used for trade, business, and even residence. The modern version of the bridge may not look as impressive and as grand as its earlier counterparts, but a visit to the immersive London Bridge Experience will give you a better understanding of the bridge's captivating history. General admission starts at £19.95, but it's also free with the London Pass.
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral may already look impressive on the outside but its Baroque exteriors are nothing compared to the treasures it holds inside. The Anglican cathedral, set on Ludgate Hill in the City of London, was designed by Christopher Wren and is nothing short of stunning. It boasts a lavishly magnificent design that spans from floor to ceiling, and includes highlights such as the marble and oak High Altar, the intricate Dome, the Grand Organ, and the three galleries that offer a bird's eye view of the cathedral and the city. Photos are not permitted inside but the awe-inspiring vision is enough to last a lifetime. General admission is £18 per person. Buy tickets online to get discounts and gain fast track access.
This gothic abbey church in the City of Westminster may not be as grandiose as St. Paul's Cathedral but it remains to be one of London's most relevant historical sites. Since the 11th century, it has witnessed the coronation ceremony of British monarchs, including present queen Elizabeth II. It also hosted many Royal weddings, including that of Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. Some of Westminster Abbey's highlights include its collection of Royal effigies and the museum, the Harrison & Harrison organ, the beautiful Lady Chapel, and the octagonal Chapter House. And it's a stunner at sunset when it’s silhouetted against the purple and orange sky. General admission starts at £20.
It may be one of the most touristy attractions in London but the Buckingham Palace is still worthy of a visit to get your British history fix. As the official London residence and administrative headquarters of the reigning monarch—it has been since 1837, it's one of the most important buildings in London. This City of Westminster palace has seen many Royal events including christenings and ceremonies, as well as State banquets and receptions. Today, visitors are welcome to visit the State rooms and garden every summer, and to witness the fascinating the Changing the Guard ceremony that takes place at 11:30 am daily from April through July. General admission starts at £21.50.
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