Speaking about London we must keep in mind that it is unlike any other city in the world. It has rather wide streets but mostly low houses. It looks very grey because there is so much rain & fog there. Only buses & pillar boxes are brightly red. But seen from the air at night, London is a magnificent sight.
London began on two small patches of dry land in the middle of marsh on the north bank of the Thames. In Roman times (55 B.C-409 A.D) it was named Londinium & was alredy a centre of trade. Since the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century, London has grown in size, wealth & influnce.Today it covers a greater area than many other big cities in the world, has about 10 million inhabitants, & is the capital of Great Britain.
London is situated on the Thames & it forms a rough kind of circle. It is divided into 4 parts: the City of London, the West End, the East End & Westminster.
THE CITY OF LONDON - It is only one square mile in area & only a few thousand paople live there, but it contains the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange & the head_quarters of the wealthiest companiens & corporations in the world. It is the financial & business centre of the Empire. About half a million people work there during the day. At night it is almost deserted. One of the most attractive places of interest of London is the Tower which is about 900 years old. It was a forterss, a castle, a palace, a safe for Crown Jewels & a prison, now converted into a museum. A number of great figures in British history were executed there, among them two of Henry VIII´s wives. The entrance to the Tower is guarted by a sentry. As English people are very fond of traditions, the Tower guards known as Beefeaters wear the same uniform as the one they wore centuries ago. St.Pauls Cathedral was completed in 1710.The famous English architect Christopher Wren planned & built it, & it took him 35 years. Here is also the Monument, a column about 60 metres hight with an urn of flames on the top commemorating the Great fire of London in 1666.
London Parks - There are a great many parks there, often called the ‘lungs’ of London. Hyde park which is famous for its Speaker´s Corner & the artifical lake Serpentine, then Green Park, St.Jame´s Park, Kensington Gardens & Regent´s Park which is chiefly noted for the fact that it contains the zoological garden & an open airtheatre.
There is a lot of smaller parks & gardens all over London.
THE WEST END – is a fashionable & entertaiment district of London. There is Mayfair – upper class London stretching to Hyde park. The rich of london live there. The best & most expencive clubs, restaurants & theatres, beautiful parks & houses are there. A good starting point for any tour of London is Trafalgar Square with the Nelson monument in the centre of it. Behind is the National Gallery & joined to it is the National Portrait Gallery, containing pictures of almost every famous English man or woman. Along there is a Strand (once the Bank of the Thames) leading to Fleet street, the heart of British ‘newspaperland’. All the newspapers have their offices there. To the west is Piccadilly Circus is with its clubs, big hotels & shops. The area around Piccadilly Circus is called ‘theatreland’ with its numerous theatres & cinemas. Here are also big shopping centres – Regent Street,Bond Street, & Oxford Street. Between Piccadilly & Oxford Street is the area known as Soho with narrow streets, markets & small shops. Soho is a foreign quarter: a great many foreigns live there. THE EAST END – is inhabited mostly by the working class. If one speaks of the city as the ‘money’ of London & the West End is the ‘goods’ then the East End is the ‘hands’ of London. Here people live in poor, old, teeming houses & slums & they call themselves Cockneys (the true Londoners). The Cockney is proud that he is not wealthy & certainly not an aristocrat. They have their own peculiar dialect.
WESTMINSTER – is to the south-west of the City. It is an aristocratic, pompously official area, the administrative centre of London. Here are diffrent ministries like the Home Office, Foreign Office & the War Office. This is where Downing Street is situated. Number 10, Downing Street is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Britain. It is here that all Cabinet meetings take place. Westminster Abbey is regarded as the centre of the Westminster area. This is an ancient church (11th century), rebuilt many times. Many great Englishmen are buried there. Opposite Westminster Abbey the Houses of Parliament can be seen. It is a beautiful building built in the Gothic style with two towers & a very big clock with chimes called Big Ben. To the west of Westminster abbey we can see Buckingham Palace, the royal residence, now the residence of Queen Elisabeth II. Every morning the changing of the royal guard takes place to the sound of a brass band, words of command & the clatter of heels on the courtyard stones.