London, the capital of England and of Great Britain, is an exciting city. It is a city of traditions, historic buildings, monuments, theatres, parks and interesting museums. About nine million people live in London and its suburbs. The river Thames flows from west to east and divides London into two parts. London is also a big industrial city producing clothing, food, drinks and many specialized goods.
Central London has of three main areas. The City is the oldest with the Tower on the north bank of the River Thames and Tower Bridge. In the past the Tower used to be a fortress, a royal palace, and a prison. Many famous people in English history were imprisoned and put to death there. Now the Tower is a museum of arms. It is also the place where the crown jewels are kept. Tower Bridge is one of the most famous bridges in London. About 20 minutes´ walk from the Tower there is another historic building, St.Paul´s Cathedral, the greatest of English churches. It was built by the famous English architect, Sir Christopher Wren. Wellington, Nelson and other great men of England are buried in St.Paul´s Cathedral.
The second area is Westminster with its Royal Palaces and Government offices. Westminster Abbey is the centre of this area. It has been the coronation church of almost all English kings and most of them are buried there. There is also Poet´s Corner, the burial place of many famous English poets. Close by Westminster Abbey stands the Palace of Westminster known as the Houses of Parliament. The buildings are in the Gothic style but they are not truly historic. They were built in 1840 on the place of the old Palace which was destroyed by fire. One part of the original building, Westminster Hall, is still there today.
The Houses of Parliament are the seat of the British Parliament. The Parliamentary session begins in November. During the time Parliament is in session a flag flies at the top of the Big Ben tower clock which is famous for its accuracy and for its 13-ton bell. Another place of interest for visitors to London is Buckingham Palace, the London residence of the British royal family in the City of Westminster. Every day at 11,30 the Queen´s Guard in full dress uniform perform the ceremony of changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace. The royal standard is flown when the sovereign is in residance. The residence of the British Prime Minister can be found at 10 Downing Street. It is the place where the meetings of the Cabinet are held.
The third area of central London is the West End, famous for shops and entertainment. There, there are such well known streets as Piccadilly, Bond Street, Regent´s Street, Carnaby Street, and Oxford Street. In the West End we can find most of London´s theatres, cinemas and nightclubs. In the centre of Piccadilly Circus there is the Statue of Eros (God of love). One of the most interesting streets of London, where especially young people like to go. It is full of shops offering the latest fashion. In the centre of the West End, there is Chinatown marked by beautiful Chinese gateways. London´s Chinatown is attractive place for tourists who like to taste traditional Chinese food in its typical restaurants.
London´s East End used to be a slum in the 19th century. It is historically associated with the Cockney dialect. This area was heavily bombed during World War ll and then it was rebuilt again.
One of the largest London squares is Trafalgar Square with the statue of admiral Nelson in the middle. On the nothern side of Trafalgar Square there is the National Gallery built in the classic style. It contains Britain´s best-known collection of paintings including those by Raphael, Rubens, Van Dyck, El Greco and others. Just behind the National Gallery there is the National Portrait Gallery in which portraits of British monarchs can be seen. The Tate Gallery is another big gallery containing modern art. It is situated not far from the Houses of Parliament. Among the most famous London museums, the Victoria and Albert museum, and the British museum should be mentioned. Thousands of visitors visit Madam Tussaud´s museum every year. Waxworks of famous people from all the world can be found there.
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