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London’s past and future landmarks

21 November 2012 No Comment

If you have yet to enjoy London then you can’t call yourself an experienced traveler. London boasts some of the most fascinating history and some excellent futuristic developments.

London’s skyline and city streets are world famous and the capital boasts iconic buildings both old and new. Luckily, many of these needn’t only be admired from afar, and can be visited by the general public and tourists to the city.

London’s past is documented in its architecture and preserved in many historic buildings, such as the Houses of Parliament, the Royal Albert Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Observatory and Buckingham Palace amongst many others.

The Houses of Parliament may seem like an exclusive space for MPs and political elite, but the building is open to both UK and overseas visitors and makes for an interesting trip. The current construction is a mid 19th century replacement of a medieval structure which was destroyed by fire. Designed by architect Charles Barry, the building is constructed in Perpendicular Gothic style. Visit over a weekend to attend one of the Saturday tours. The 75 minute guided walk takes in the Commons and Lords Chambers, the Queen’s Robing Room, the Royal Gallery, and Westminster Hall. Tickets can be booked online or by phone, and foreign language tours are also available at select times. You can also climb the 334 steps of Big Ben and view London from a height of 62 metres by booking a tour, available daily from Monday to Friday. For a really in-depth experience, why not contact your MP to arrange a ticket to attend proceedings in the House of Commons or Lords, to glimpse politics in action.

Grandiose St. Paul’s Cathedral is often heralded as one of London’s most beautiful buildings. Amazingly, the Cathedral is the fifth of a line of religious structures which have graced the site for centuries. The Old St. Paul’s was a victim of the 1666 Great Fire of London, and the current construction, the work of architect Christopher Wren was completed in 1708. Its dome is the second largest in Europe and its interior is equally magnificent. Visitors have an array of options on a trip: climb the dome, take a multimedia tour, see the crypts and tombs or enjoy tasty afternoon tea.

London is not only a mecca for history buffs, but has many exciting new builds too. Norman Foster’s The Gherkin is a building which continues to divide opinion. Standing at 180m, it was opened in 2004 and is located in the financial City of London district. Unfortunately the building is not open to the public for most of the year, however previous annual Open House weekends have seen The Gherkin throw open its doors to visitors.

Planning a trip to London in 2013? Be sure to visit The Shard which will open in February. Europe’s tallest building features 11,000 glass panels, 44 hectares of floor space and 44 lifts – including double-decker lifts! Work was completed on 19th June this year and the building has 72 habitable floors which will provide office space, apartments, restaurants and a hotel. Designs began over a decade ago and were the work of architect Renzo Piano, an Italian who helped create Paris’s Pompidou Centre. Inside The Shard The luxury Shangri-La hotel will accommodate guests with a big budget, whilst the ground-level seating area and sky-high viewing platform will be open to all.

If visiting the Shard inspires you to experience more of Piano’s designs, the Pompidou Centre can be easily visited from London. Paris is just a 2 hour journey from the capital, travel to Paris can be arranged from St Panras station so go and explore the work of Piano and many other famed architects, in Paris and beyond.

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