London - Tourist Attractions and Places to See
Buckingham Palace is the most famous of London’s many royal palaces. Constructed in the 18th century , it is located at the end of the Mall, one of London’s broadest roads. The Queen and her family live in a part of the palace. Other parts can be visited by tourists. The Changing of the Guard is a ceremony that takes place every day.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is one of the oldest buildings in the city. The fortress consists of several buildings around a central tower . It is situated on the northern bank of the River Thames . For many centuries the Tower of London served as a prison . Among the most famous prisoners were the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh and Anne Boleyn, one of Henry VIII’s wives who was beheaded there. Today visitors are able to see the Crown Jewels of England which were originally protected by Beefeaters and the Tower’s ravens .
The Tower Bridge , near the Tower of London, may be London’s most impressive landmark . The bridge is over a hundred years old and can be raised to let ships pass through. The two towers and the walkway that connects them give visitors a great view of London.
St Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul's Cathedral was rebuilt in the 17th century by the great English architect Sir Christopher Wren after the original building had been destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1666. It has the largest dome in the world after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Westminster Abbey is located near the Houses of Parliament. Since its construction by William the Conqueror in 1066 almost all of the country’s kings and queens have been crowned there. Monarchs and famous people are buried in the abbey . Among them are Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton.
Houses of Parliament
The Houses of Parliament are located in the city of Westminster alongside the River Thames . Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords hold their meetings in the palace. Big Ben , the clock tower’s famous bell , has been chiming since the middle of the 19th century .
Parks in London
The city of London is well known for its large and beautiful parks. Hyde Park is the largest of London’s royal parks. It is about 2km long and over 1 km wide. Hyde Park is a popular area for free time activities, including jogging, running and horse riding. Speaker’s Corner, near the north-eastern entrance of Hyde Park is a place where Londoners gather and listen to people who talk about all kinds of things. The Serpentine is a large artificial lake where people can go swimming or rowing . London has many other parks, including St. James’s Park, with a great view of Buckingham Palace, and Green Park.
View of Hyde Park - Ben Leto
Greenwich is a famous district in the eastern part of London. Tourists either take a Thames boat ride there or go by the Docklands Light Railway. Greenwich is famous for British naval history. The National Maritime Museum shows exhibits from a time when Britain was the world’s biggest sea power.
The Royal Observatory has a planetarium and a museum with a display of astronomical and navigational instruments. The prime meridian of the world goes through the observatory. It divides the world into an eastern and western hemisphere .
A giant Ferris wheel rises 135 m high on the south bank of the River Thames. It was built as a part of London’s millennium celebrations . Each egg-shaped cabin can take up to 25 passengers. A complete turn of the wheel takes 30 minutes.
The most famous museum of wax figures was opened in 1835. Thousands of famous people, artists, writers, politicians and other celebrities have been created in wax. During the tourist season waiting lines can be very long.
The largest square in London has been a central meeting place since the Middle Ages. In the centre is Nelson’s Column, built in honour of Admiral Nelson, who defeated the French fleet at Trafalgar in 1805.
A busy plaza in the heart of London lies at the junction of five major streets. The place is famous for its colourful billboards , a fountain and a statue of Eros.
The former fruit and vegetable market is always a crowded place, especially during weekends and in the summertime. Today it is known for its open-air cafes, restaurants, pubs and street performers .
The gardens east of Hyde Park cover an area of over 100 ha. Their most famous attraction is Kensington Palace , the former home of Princess Diana. One of the park’s playgrounds has a statue of Peter Pan.
London’s most famous theatre , originally built at the end of the 16th century , was reconstructed in 1997. It is only about 200 metres from its original site .
One of the royal family’s official residences is the largest inhabited castle in the world. It lies about 30 km west of London. In the course of history it has been changed several times.
Windsor Castle - Photo by DAVID ILIFF
Downloadable Text and Worksheets
- Geography of London - Population, History , Economy, Culture of Great Britain's Capital
- Tower of London
- abbey = a large church, where monks and nuns used to live
- alongside = next to
- artificial = man-made
- attraction = sight
- bank = side of a river
- behead = to cut off someone's head
- billboard = large sign used for advertisements
- broad = wide
- bury = to put a dead person in a grave
- celebration = festival, big party
- celebrity = famous person who is in the media very often
- century = a hundred years
- ceremony = an important event that is performed in a certain way
- chime = ring
- conqueror = a person who invades a country by fighting
- consist of = is made up of
- construction = building
- course of history = as time goes on
- crowded = very many people are around
- defeat = beat someone in a fight or battle
- display = exhibition, to show something
- dome = round roof of a building
- entrance = place where you go in
- exhibit = an object that is shown in a public place so that people can go and see it
- explorer = someone who travels to an unknown place and tries to find out something about it
- Ferris wheel = a very large wheel with cabins in which people can ride
- fleet = the ships that belong to the navy of a country
- former = in the past, ex-
- fortress = a large strong building that is used for defending an important place
- fountain = structure from which water is pumped into the air
- gather = get together
- hemisphere = half of the Earth
- impressive = exciting, great
- in honour of = to show that you respect someone
- inhabited = to live in a place
- junction = crossroads ; place where two or more roads meet
- landmark = an important building or sight that you recognize at once
- millennium = when a new 1000-year period begins
- monarch = king or queen
- naval = marine; everything that has to do with the navy
- performer = a person who acts or sings in order to entertain people and make them happy
- planetarium = a building with a curved roof; lights show how planets and stars move
- plaza = public square or place with buildings around it
- prime meridian = a line from the North to the South Pole that divides the Earth into an eastern and a western half ; the Earth's time zones also start from here.
- prison = place where you keep people because they have done something wrong or broken the law
- protect = guard
- raven = a large shiny black bird
- reconstruct = build again
- residence = place where someone lives
- row = to make a boat move across water with wooden paddles
- royal = something that belongs to the king or the queen
- site = place where something once stood
- situated = located
- turn = to move completely around one time
- walkway = a path that connects two objects, usually high above the ground