London is the capital of the Great Britain and England and it is one of the largest cities in the world. The population of London together with the suburbs is about 9 milion and it’s total area is about 1.580 square kilometres. It is also an industrial , comercial and cultural center of the country with many historic buildings, monuments, famous streets, beautiful parks and interesting museums. London is also an important seaport. During the tides the water level of the river Thames rises and it becomes navigable even for big ocean-going ships which can reach the London harbour. The river is also connected by a system of canals with the Severn estuary.
London originated as a small Roman settlement around the bridge over the Thames.It was founded by the Roman emperor Claudius and was first called Londinium. The city grew gradually but a great part of it was destroyed by Great Fire in 1666 (3000 houses, and 97 churches) as many buildings were made of wood and caught fire very easily. In the years that followed the city was rebuilt in stone. Many of the buildings were restored by the outstanding English architect Sir Christopher Wren.
This is why we don‘t find so many old buildings as in Prague, for example.
The river Thames flows through the city and divides it into two parts ( the left blank and right blank) But the central London (without the suburbs) can be divided into 4 main areas:
The city of London
The oldest part. It is a small area of about 2.5 square kilometers and with only around 10,000 permanent residents. But on weekdays it’s a very busy place as it houses a great number of banks, offices, headquarters of firms, the world’s most advanced stock exchange, foreign exchange market and other important institutions. Thousands of people
residing in other parts of the city come to work here every day. At weekends the City is crowded with tourists coming to see historic attractions like the Tower of London (started about 900 years ago by Wiliam the Conqueror) and the Tower Bridge. Now the Tower is the museum of arms and the place where the royal jewels are kept. But it used to be a fortress, royal place, a royal treasury and also a notorious state prison where many famous people in English history were imprisoned or put to death. The Tower is guarded by Yeoman Warders populary called “beefeaters”.
They wear the traditional black and red uniforms and every night they perform the ceremony of the Keys (the locking up the Tower for with. This tradition goes back to Middle Ages.
Another well-known buildings in the city is St. Pauls Cathedral famous for its whispering Gallery which runs around the dome. It is called so because if somebody whispers something close to the wall on one side, a person standing close to the wall on the other side can clearly hear what is said. From the top of the cathedral is a beautifull view of the London
this area is know for its royal palaces and government offices. The center of the area is Westminster Abbey - one of the biggest Roman Catholic churches in E.
Its history started in the 11th century and since then it has been a coronation church for almost all English kings and queens. Many of then are buried here, too. Close to Westminster Abbey stands the Palace of Westminster better know as the Houses of Parliament. It is situated on the left blank of the river and it’s only one Gothic building.
The West End
is famous for its shops and places of entertainment. Here we can find most of London’s theatres, cinemas, and nightclubs. The heart of London’s entertainment world is Piccadilly Circus. In the middle of this square stands the Statue of Eros. The buildings around Piccadilly are decorated with bright neons advertising goods and entertainment. It is a busy Place both at day and night. In the center of the West End is Chinatown - an attractive place for tourists who can taste traditional Chinese food here in typical Chinese restaurants. Among the most famous West End’s streets are: Oxford St., Regent‘s St., Carnaby St. /only about 100 m long, it’s full of open-air stalls selling fashion clothes - T - shirts, blue jeans, leather jackets, shoes, bags, sunglasses, records and souvenirs / very popular among Londoners and visitors/, Bond St. /well - known for its art galleries, jewellery shops and luxury goods and the famous auction house Sotheby’s/.
The East End
used to be a slum in the 19th century but after heavy bombing during the WW2 it was rebuilt. It is historically associated with Cockney dialect / understood only in this part of London and hardly comprehensible even to most of the English.
The largest square in London - Trafalgar Square
It has the statue of admiral Nelson in the middle to commemorate the victory of the British fleet over the French and Spanish Fleets in the Battle of Trafalgar Bay in 1805. Nelson was killed in this battle. Around the base of the Nelson’s Column are four stone lions.
The square is also known for great numbers of pigeons that flock here to be fed by people. The finest museums in London /admission to many of them is free/
The National Gallery /at Trafalgar Sq./ contains a fine collections of classical painting including for example Rubens, Raphael, El Graco
The National Portrait Gallery - contains portraits of British monarchs.
The Tate Gallery - near the Houses of Parliament - has a fine collection of modern art /paintings and sculptures/.
The Victoria and Albert Museum contains collections of fine and applied arts of most centuries, countries and styles /ceramics, textiles, wood-work, sculpture, painting/
The British Museum - contains a great library with over 6 million books and a large collection of manuscripts. It’s most important departments are the Natural History Museum of Archeology and Ethnology. Madam Tussaud’s Museum - visited by most tourists - has a collection of wax statues of famous people from all over the world. The best - known parks and gardens - there’s a great number of them in London and they are excellent places for relaxation, fun and entertainment, sports and cultural events. Hyde Park - is probably the best - known of them. It’s the largest of the royal parks. It is famous for its Speaker’s Corner where anybody can come and speak about any topic. His listeners /if any/ can ask him questions and make comments. Regent’s Park / has two lakes, a ZOO and an open/air theatre.
Kensington Gardens have a big cultural center and Albert Memorial erected in the middle of the 19 century in memory of Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria
St. James’s Park
Buckingham Palace Gardens
TRANSPORT IN LONDON
London has an important international airport Heathrow. It has the priority of having the first electrical underground opened in 1890. A typical London sight are double-deckers - big red buses with two passenger decks.