London is the capital city of the United Kingdom. It is the 9th largest city in world - its population is about 10 000 000 (with suburbs) of whose are 1.2 mil. Foreigners. It’s total area is over 4 000 square kilometers. London is situated on the river Thames in south-east England. From about 1800 until World War Two, London was the biggest city in the world.
To London we can get by various means of transport - aeroplane, bus (Victoria Coach Station), train, car or ship. This city is famous for its red double-deckers
and old-fashioned black taxis. For fast transport you can
go by the Underground. Now it operates 11 lines and 418
km long. It’s the oldest underground in the world. Over
1,000,000 people a day use the London Underground, but
there are still too many cars on the streets. The air isn’t
clear, but it’s cleaner than it was 100 years ago. There are also 3 airports in London- Heathrow, Gatwick and Stanstead. The most important are Heathrow and Gatwick; Heathrow is the largest in Europe.
London is one of the largest ports. 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 Is 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 William 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 Warder’s 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 building in the city is St. Paul’s 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 beautiful view of the London.
THE WESTMINSTER Here is the Poet’s corner – the burial of English poets. This area is known for its royal palaces and government offices. The center of the area is Westminster Abbey - one of the biggest Roman Catholic churches in England.
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 World War II 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.
London is one of the world’s leading financial centers and we can find here all sorts of banks, financial institutions and head - offices of international companies. The best-known building of this place is The Bank of England, which is also called The Old Lady of Thread needle Street and it issues money. The other is Lloyds’ insurance building; all the ships in the world are insured here. The Stock Exchange and Royal Exchange are also situated here. This part of London is known for not meeting the typical Englishmen because now it’s full of new technologies.
But the City is not only the modern center, here are sides too, for example London Wall, Lombard Street, Moor gate and Bishops gate. Here’s the site of the oldest London Bridge, which was built in 1971 and replaced the one.
Before Christ there was a Celtic settlement called Llyndin. After the Roman occupation of England the most important port Londinium originated here. During the rule of Germanic tribes Lundenevic became the capital of the kingdom Essex and since 1066 it has been the capital of the English Kingdom.
In 1665 during the Great Plague, died nearly 70 000 Londoners. After the epidemic was followed the Great Fire at 1666 which destroyed 4/5 of the city (3000 houses, and 97 churches). These two catastrophes destroyed The City.
The Great Fire began in a baker’s shop in Pudding Lane and continued 4 days. After the fire, the City was rebuilt and the buildings were designed by Christopher Wren, for ex. Monument of Great Fire, it’s a column, which is 65 meters high. There are many places of interest.
During the World War II the city was heavily bombed Many buildings were cither damaged of destroyed but by the end of the 1950 most of war damage was repaired.
Parts of London:
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. In the city centre are five parks.
London is noted for its plenty of park spaces. The most notable are the Royal Parks, which were formerly royal estates. These include Saint James's Park and, to the west, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington Gardens. To the north is Regent's Park, and farther upstream along the Thames are Richmond Park, Hampton Court Park, Kew Gardens (are also known as the Royal Botanical Gardens with the largest collection of living plants in the world.), and Bushey Park. Surrounding the Royal Naval College and the old Royal Observatory is Greenwich Park. Other important open spaces include Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill Fields, which overlook London from the north.
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.) ,
Kensington Gardens (has a big cultural center
and Albert Memorial erected in the middle
of the 19 century in memory of Albert, the
husband of Queen Victoria)
Regent’s Park (has two lakes, a ZOO and an open air
The famous shopping centres in London are in Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street and Oxford Street. The other well-known streets are Carnaby Street, Charring Cross Road and Pall Mall.
The National Gallery - situated on the top of Trafalgar Square. There are paintings by nearly all the great European artists and a large collection of British paintings and sculptures. It is free of charge.
Trafalgar Square - was named after Admiral Nelson's victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Nelson's statue is situated on a high column. The square is very popular also for its fountains. Many meetings and demonstrations take place there. At Christmas time a big Christmas tree stands there and on New Year's Eve people gathered there at midnight, sing and dance. Whitehall is the street leading from Hoses of Parliament to Trafalgar square, where the government offices are. Horse Guards Parade takes place here.
Downing Street 10 - the official home of British Prime Ministers since 1731, two horse guides stands before the entrance. Today's Prime Minster is Tony Blair.
The Houses of Parliament – It is the political centre of the United Kingdom, the home of British Parliament. It’s building in gothic style but was built only between 1840 - 1852 after the old building had burnt down. The only part, which escaped the fire, was Westminster Hall. There is also a famous clock tower with Big Ben and its characteristic bell ringing. Big Ben striking is known all over the world, because BBC as a time signal uses it.
Westminster Abbey - was founded in the 11th century. Britain's Kings and Queens are crowned there. England's greatest poets, artists, statesmen and other famous people are buried there in the Poet's Corner. The Abbey is an excellent example of gothic architecture. Since 1066 the Abbey is the place where many state occasions and royal weddings take place.
St. Paul's Cathedral - is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. It stands in the City. This great renaissance dome is the work of the famous architect Sir Christopher Wren and it was built in the 17th century. The Cathedral is known for its Whispering Gallery. Standing on the allergy you can clearly hear what is whispered on the opposite said. During the World War II it was badly damaged by bombs. In 1981 Prince of Wales (Prince Charles) and Lady Diana were married here.
The Tower of London - William the Conqueror founded it. Following kings added another parts to the fortifications.
It served as a royal palace first, then as a prison and fortress, execution site and royal observatory. The Tower was built in the 11th century. It is a museum now. The Crown Jewels guarded by the Beefeaters in their traditional Tudor uniforms are kept here.
Other well-known bridges are Waterloo-Bridge and Westminster Bridge. The clock tower with the massive bell called Big Ben is a part of the Parliament’s architecture. The Post Office Tower is the highest building in Great Britain. The Tower was built in the 11th century. It served as a royal palace first, then prison and fortress. It is a museum now. The Crown Jewels are kept here. The Post Office Tower - the tallest building in Great Britain.
Windsor Castle - is the residence of nearly all the British sovereigns outside London. Greenwich - is the seat of the National Maritime Museum where is the Royal Observatory and it is situated at the prime meridian. With its 40 theatres and music halls London is the
centre of Britain’s theatre life. The most important are
The National Theatre (which moved in 1975 to new
buildings on the South Bynk), the Royal Shakespeare
Company (which usually plays in Stratford, but also here in the Barbican
Centre). The Royal Festival Hall and the Royal Albert Hall, the Queen Elizabeth
Hall are the main concert halls.
The National Theatre - was moved to a new building. There are many other theatres and also the royal Shakespeare Company, which usually play in Stratford.
Soho – it’s a place where the worlds of fashion, business, the arts but also strip club, sex shops and peepshows meet. It is also a food lover’s paradise.
Oxford Street – It’s well known shopping centre, where the Royal family goes shopping too.
The British Museum is the largest museum in the world. There are the biggest collection of all kinds of animal and minerals and rocks. There is a collection of fine and applied arts of all countries, periods and styles, e.g. antiquities from ancient Greece, Rome and the Orient, Egyptian mummies, middle Ages manuscripts. The British Museum's library is the largest in the world. Also here the admission is free.
There are 2 places in 1. The first is a
family house, where children can play
and grow up; the second is place where
the presidents and kings go to meet the
Queen. Buckingham palace is like a
small town. There is a hospital, two
sport clubs, post office, swimming
pool, cinema and theatre. There are six
hundred rooms in Buckingham palace
and 3 miles of red carpet.
2 men work
full time to look after the three hundred clocks. About seven hundred people
work in Buckingham palace. Buckingham palace was built in 1703 and bought by King George III sixty years later. It is one of the most visited sights of London as it is a royal residence. At 11.30, a picturesque ceremony of the Changing of the Guard takes place there, which attracts a great number of tourists. Buckingham palace faces the Mall and the white marble and gilded Queen Victoria Monument. When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837 it was almost impossible to live in the Palace. Today The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh have private suites in the North Wing, overlooking Green Park. When the Queen is in the Palace, the royal standard flies. Their home is open to around 30,000 quests in summer, attending garden parties. When the Golden Jubilee was celebrated, the gardens of Buckingham Palace were the venue for various events. The gardens have a lake, cascading water and the wild life includes flamingoes, which do not seem to be disturbed by frequent flights of the Queen’s helicopters.
Buckingham Palace is a working setting for the monarchs-with a large staff of people who are busy with various activities from running the household to organizing banquets for visiting VIPs.
According to some sources of information, about 700 people work there. When the Queen gets up in the morning, seven people look after only her. One prepares her bath, one prepares her clothes, and one feed her dogs because the Queen is a great lover of dogs. She has nine dogs call royal dogs. They have their own bathroom near the Queen bathroom. The Queen usually drinks coffee from Harrods and eats toast and eggs. There is even and piper playing Scottish music outside her room while the Queen reads her daily newspaper.
Every Thursday evening she meets the Prime Minister; they talk about world news and have a drink usually gin and wine or whisky. When the Queen invites a lot of people for diner it takes three days to prepare the table and three days to do the washing up. Everybody has five glasses. One for red wine, one for white wine, one for port, one for liqueur and one for water.
Tower Bridge, the most famous and distinctive bridge in London, towers over the river Thames. It was completed in 1894 and is 880 feet long.
It is used by car and buses as well as by pedestrians.
Before its construction, the city of London had grown substantially and cars and pedestrians could only use the one bridge-London bridge.
Although there were fewer cars than there are today, the traffic jams were unbearable, so it was inevitable that another bridge would be built. Its designer was Sir Horace Jones and Sir Wolfe Barry engineered it.
However, when the bridge was completed and opened for traffic in 1894, the public did not like it at all. One magazine referred to it as "the most monstrous and preposterous architectural sham that we have ever known". The new bridge has two towers that rise 200 feel above the Thames. A pair of glass-covered walkways stretches between the two towers for pedestrians. Steam engines raise and lower the bascules-movable roadways-in less than two minutes, to allow ships to pass.
However, public opinion has changed over the years, and today Tower Bridge belongs to the most beloved and most photographed landmarks both of Londoners and visitors from all over the world.
Tower Bridge, built of steel and masonry, is the only movable one of the 29 bridges, which has been built on the Thames. When it was opened to traffic, it was raised and lowered 1,000 times per year. Today, there are fewer ships on the Thames, so the bridge opens about 100 times per year.