London is such a beautiful city which fuses the past with the present in the most captivating way imaginable. Its historical edifices are absolutely a beauty to behold.
Most international students, especially first-timers in London, always get overwhelmed with ideas on places to visit. Your education cannot be complete in the real sense of it without some of these visits to interesting places. Travelling is a part of learning and for that, we’ve compiled a list of 10 choice places to visit in London. You can go alone, with friends, course-mates or even colleagues. Let’s take a trip as we visit some of the historical places in London.
- The British Museum
Located in London, the British Museum is one of the world’s foremost museums of history and anthropology in the world and has some of the largest and most revered collections from around the globe ranging from Babylonian stonework and Samurai armour to pottery and glass from the Roman Empire. Some of its most popular exhibits are its collection of Parthenon Sculptures from Ancient Greece, the Egyptian mummies, the Rosetta Stone and Assyrian lion hunt reliefs from 668 BC as well as several other famous objects like the Lewis Chess Set and 12th – 14th century Nigerian artwork.
2. Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament or ‘Palace of Westminster’ was the part of the great royal palace which was home to English monarchs for over 500 years but became the home of parliament in the 16th century after the reign of King Henry VIII, when he moved the royal family out of the Palace of Westminster following a fire. Despite the fact that the original Westminster Palace burned down in 1834 and the building you see today is the result of the subsequent rebuilding by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin, the structure remains an architectural masterpiece. The iconic clock tower, housing Big Ben, is probably the most famous part of this building and the complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
3. Westminster Abbey
When you think of Westminster Abbey, what you see is an iconic medieval structure and the site of many historic royal and national events, from coronations and weddings to burials and even deaths. Centrally located in London, Westminster Abbey was first constructed in the eleventh century by King Edward the Confessor, a Saxon king who dedicated this new church to St Peter.
4. Winston Churchill War Rooms
In light of the fact that there was an impending war in the 1930s, the Winston Churchill led government built an underground bunker complex containing a bombproof shelter and cabinet war rooms from which the government could operate in the event that there was damage to 10 Downing Street and Whitehall during World War II. It was from the Cabinet War Rooms that Churchill, his cabinet and about 500 civil servants worked, and sometimes slept, throughout the War. The complex is believed to have around 200 rooms in total and those which are open to public viewing include the cabinet war room, where Churchill’s war cabinet met, Churchill’s office and his bedroom. This underground office block also had a canteen and a hospital.
5. Charles Dickens’ Museum
Whether you’re a lover of English literature or not, there’s no doubt that Charles Dickens’ stories remain some of the classics through the ages so step into this residence of Charles Dickens, the only one of his residences still remaining and see the exact place where “Oliver Twist” and “Nicholas Nickleby” were penned. Visitors can examine photographs and other items left by the renowned author as much of the house has been restored to its original appearance.
6. Tower Bridge
If you desire to understand London’s history and its multicultural metropolis, then you should take a tour of the world’s most famous bridge which is known for its pale blue lines and Gothic style and was first opened in 1894. The tower bridge offers an exhibition describing its unique history and its role in London’s development while the museum takes you through succeeding years with animatronics and interactive displays, which punctuate fantastic views of the Thames. Occasionally, the bridge will open for a passing ship showing off the advanced architecture and mechanics involved.
7. The Brunel Museum
As the oldest tunnel under water in the oldest metro system in the world, Brunel’s amazing feat of engineering took 18 long years and cost many lives to construct. During a guided tour, you can climb down into the shaft which served the tunnel, and listen to an actor guide recreate the conditions that Brunel and his workers faced more than 185 years ago when they started construction. A tour through this tunnel will leave you awed and fascinated as the museum also runs various special events, from pop up opera, to guided walks through Brunel’s old tunnels which now house the busy East London Line underground railway.
8. Southwark Cathedral
Built in the 15th century, this Gothic cathedral has been on the site for hundreds of years. During its long history, Southwark was attended by Chaucer Shakespeare, James I of Scotland, and John Harvard, founder of Harvard University. Exhibits showing the cathedral’s history are available for viewing. When the whole cathedral is lit with candles for carols and midnight mass, the church comes alive looking ever so beautiful and glorious. Not far away, you can see lots of London’s historic links to the docks and the sea.
There’s no dull moment in London so soak in all you can while touring its historical sites and enjoy the time of your life as a student.