Top Five London Attractions


London is a city rich and varied in history and yet has a blend of modern facets to please any type of traveler. With hundreds of art galleries, museums and dozens of other attractions including zoos, music, theater and nightlife, it is no wonder that London is one of the most popular cities in the world. A visit to London should include these five must see attractions:

Westminster Abbey

This church, burial ground and coronation site, all rolled into one, is the final resting place of great kings, poets and other British notables. Westminster Abbey is still used as a church for religious services and events on a regular basis. The works of art, which are contained in the Abbey, make the visit truly worthy. Inside the west entryway hangs a painting of Richard II. This portrait was painted in 1390 and is the oldest portrait of a British monarch on display today.

Buckingham Palace

The official residence of British monarchy, Buckingham Palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in England. The best time to visit is in August and September when the Palace's 19 staterooms are open to the public. However, various areas of the Palace are open year round and tourists can still see the spectacular architecture of the building and other exhibits. A walk through the 40-acre grounds and gardens is a must as is the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

Tower of London

Many have heard of the Tower of London, but not everyone knows it served as a prison for many years. The original structure was built to be used as a fort by William the Conqueror around 1100 AD. Later the Tower evolved into a prison and then into a monument for the sizable collection of Crown Jewels which are still on display today. The highlight of the collection is the 530-carat Star of Africa. The pear shaped diamond is the 2nd largest in the world and was extracted from a South African mine. The Royal Armouries are also an interesting stop at the Tower of London. The spiral staircase running up the interior is the only way up and this British national museum of arms and armour has more than 40,000 pieces on display.

Trafalgar Square

This large, open plaza is often the site of political demonstrations and other public events in London. Aside from being the intersection for several major streets, the square is a great gateway to sightseeing in the area. On the north side of Trafalgar Square, you will find the National Gallery, one of the world's prime art museums. To the west, you will come across Canada House, where visiting Canadians can get a taste of home; it's worth a visit for everyone. South Africa House is on the east side and although it is closed to the public, the stone arches with African animals are worth a look. When you have seen all there is in Trafalgar Square, be sure to visit 10 Downing Street, the home of British Prime Ministers since 1732 and the Churchill Museum, both are located within walking distance of the square.

Harrods

What would a trip to London be without a little shopping? The world's greatest department store, Harrods, is great even for the window shoppers. And, for those who are looking to spend a bit of dough, this million square feet of merchandise is every shoppers dream. In fact, Harrods motto is - Omnia Omnibus Ubique - which means "All Things For All People Everywhere". Although it has been around for 150 years, Harrods is as modern as the latest iPod. Many of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas shop and the Food Hall, are world famous for their quality and abundance of selection. Where else can you choose from 300 different types of cheese?

These top five London attractions will get you started but you will discover London has so much to do and see a second visit will be in order.



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