London 1

Starting my series on Europe from London. For this Europe tour, we were part of a tour group unlike my earlier tours.

It was a bright and sunny day in London and as we were landing at London, I got a real bird’s eye view of the city. The Big Ben, Westminster Palace ,Thames River, London eye and various bridges across the Thames were clearly seen…take a look..

Bird’s eye view of London

Beauty in uniformity….beautiful rows of houses as we approach to land

After a late evening check in at the hotel at Wembley, we started our tour of the city next morning. That was not a bright and sunny day as you will realise from some of the pictures!

Some of the important locations we visited….

The Big Ben :

The Big Ben is the nickname of a huge bell that hangs in the clock tower at the north end of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. By extension, the clock and clock tower are also referred to as The Big Ben. The main clock chimes every hour and the quarter bells chime every quarter hour. (The clock used to chime every hour but since 2017, this has been restricted as some restoration work is on). The clock tower in which the bell is located is called Elizabeth Tower and is an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is 96 mt tall and there are 334 steps to the belfry. A special light above the clock faces is illuminated when the parliament is in session.

The tower is a British cultural icon and is often used as a symbol of UK. It boasts a Gothic Revival style of architecture. All four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales) are represented on the tower. The construction was completed in 1859.

The Big Ben

The British Houses of Parliament :(Westminster Palace)

The featured image of this blog is of the Westminster Palace.

The Palace Of Westminster serves as the meeting place for the House of Commons and House of Lords….the two houses of Parliament of the UK. The palace is located at Westminster on the banks of the Thames River in central London. It is the center of political life in the UK and is often referred to as Westminster.The clock tower and Big Ben are part of this palace.

When it was initially built in the 11th century, it served as the primary residence of the King of England but was destroyed in a fire. The construction of the present palace started in 1840 and continued for almost 30 years with delays and cost overruns. Following the second world war,( when the palace was hit by bombs on several occassions), extensive repairs have been carried out.

Casual access to the parliament is restricted and requires prior permission and tickets from an MP.

The Palace of Westminster on the banks of the Thames with the Big Ben at one end

Buckingham Palace :

It is a Royal residence and seat of administration of the monarchs of the UK and located in the city of Westminster. It is often the center of state occasions and royal hospitality. It is the focal point of the British for occasions of rejoicing and mourning.

Originally known as Buckingham House, the building at the core of today’s palace was a large town house. It was expanded by three wings around a central courtyard in the 19th century and became the London residence of Queen Victoria in 1837 and was called Buckingham Palace. The palace has 775 rooms and a large private garden. The state rooms which are used for official entertaining are open to the public each year in August and September.

When paying state visits to Britain, foreign heads of state are often entertained by the Queen at the Buckingham Palace.

The palace has ornate gates in black and golden colour and is adorned at the entrance by the iconic Queen Victoria Memorial.

The Buckingham Palace

Queen Victoria Memorial at the Palace entrance

Change of Guards ceremony :

This is a formal ceremony in which a group of soldiers hands over the duties to another set of soldiers. This ceremonial parade of sorts spans the Buckingham Palace, the St James’s palace and the Wellington Barracks.

During the ceremony, the Royal guards come from outside and enter the palace. An exchange of flags takes place. There is an accompanying band and mounted soldiers too.

The public can line up along the roads here and watch the soldiers march by and also see the hand over and take over ceremonies. Some pictures from the change of guards ceremony

The Change Of Guards ceremony

Westminster Abbey :

It is one of the United Kingdom’s most remarkable religious centers and the traditional place of coronation and burial for the British monarchs. Situated just next to Westminster palace, it has been the venue for some of the royal weddings too.

The Westminster Abbey

The London Eye :

Also called the Millennium Wheel, this observation wheel is located on the banks of the Thames river. When it opened in the year 2000, it was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel. Subsequently it was over taken by many others. It has 32 ovoid and airconditioned passenger capsules. It does not normally stop for passengers to alight or board. The speed is slow enough for passengers to walk on and off it. The slow speed also helps easy photography.

It provides breathtaking views of the city. Some pictures…

The London Eye

One of the capsules

Entrance to the capsule

Inside the capsule with the Palace of Westminster in the backdrop

View of London city with the Thames and its bridges from the capsule

This is my first episode on London city. Next week we continue with more sights from the city tour. Till then, do comment and subscribe below