London Sightseeing Tours
1. Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of Britain's sovereigns since 1837 and today is the administrative headquarters of the Monarch.
Although in use for the many official events and receptions held by The Queen, the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace are open to visitors every year.
Buckingham Palace has 775 rooms. These include 19 State rooms, 52 Royal and guest bedrooms, 188 staff bedrooms, 92 offices and 78 bathrooms. In measurements, the building is 108 metres long across the front, 120 metres deep (including the central quadrangle) and 24 metres high.
The Palace is very much a working building and the centrepiece of Britain's constitutional monarchy. It houses the offices of those who support the day-to-day activities and duties of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh and their immediate family.
The Palace is also the venue for great Royal ceremonies, State Visits and Investitures, all of which are organised by the Royal Household.
The state rooms, used for official and state entertaining, are open to the public each year for most of August and September, as part of the Palace's Summer Opening.
2. The Natural History Museum is one of three large museums on Exhibition Road, South Kensington,London, England (the others are the Science Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum). Its main frontage is on Cromwell Road. The museum is an exempt charity, and a non-departmental public bodysponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The museum is home to life and earth science specimens comprising some 70 million items within five main collections: Botany, Entomology,Mineralogy, Palaeontology and Zoology. The museum is a world-renowned centre of research, specialising intaxonomy, identification and conservation. Given the age of the institution, many of the collections have great historical as well as scientific value, such as specimens collected by Darwin. The Natural History Museum Library contains extensive books, journals, manuscripts, and artwork collections linked to the work and research of the scientific departments. Access to the library is by appointment only.
The museum is particularly famous for its exhibition of dinosaur skeletons, and ornate architecture - sometimes dubbed a cathedral of nature - both exemplified by the large Diplodocus cast which dominates the vaulted central hall.
Originating from collections within the British Museum, the landmark Alfred Waterhouse building was built and opened by 1881, and later incorporated the Geological Museum. The Darwin Centre is a more recent addition, partly designed as a modern facility for storing the valuable collections.
Like other publicly funded national museums in the United Kingdom, the Natural History Museum does not levy an admission charge.
3. Harrods is an upmarket department store located in Brompton Road in Brompton, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, London. The Harrods brand also applies to other enterprises undertaken by theHarrods group of companies including Harrods Bank, Harrods Estates, Harrods Aviation and Air Harrods, and to Harrods Buenos Aires, sold by Harrods in 1922 and closed as of 2011, with plans announced to reopen in 2013.
The store occupies a 5-acre (20,000 m2) site and has over one million square feet (90,000 m2) of selling space in over 330 departments. The UK's second-biggest shop, Oxford Street's Selfridges, is a little over half the size with 540,000 square feet (50,000 m2) of selling space.
The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique-All Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous.
Throughout its history, the store has had a total of five owners. On 8 May 2010, Mohamed Al-Fayed sold the store to Qatar Holdings for £1.5 billion.
4. Marble Arch is a white Carrara marble monument that now stands on a large traffic island at the junction of Oxford Street, Park Lane, and Edgware Road, almost directly opposite Speakers' Cornerin Hyde Park in London, England. Until 1851 it stood in front of Buckingham Palace.
Historically, only members of the royal family and the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, have been allowed to pass through the arch in ceremonial procession.
The name "Marble Arch" also refers to the locality in west London where the arch is situated, particularly, the southern portion of Edgware Road. There also is an underground station named after it.
5. Madame Tussauds Tussauds is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as "Madame Tussaud's", but the apostrophe is no longer used (though it still appears in some signage at the New York location).
Madame Tussauds is a major tourist attraction in London, displaying waxworks of historical and royal figures, film stars, sports stars and famous murderers.
6. London Zoo is the world's oldest scientific zoo. It was opened in London on 27 April 1828, and was originally intended to be used as a collection for scientific study. It was eventually opened to the public in 1847. Today it houses a collection of 755 species of animals, with 16,802 individuals, making it one of the largest collections in the United Kingdom.
It is managed under the aegis of the Zoological Society of London (established in 1826), and is situated at the northern edge of Regent's Park, on the boundary line between City of Westminster and Camden (theRegent's Canal runs through it). The Society also has a more spacious site at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo inBedfordshire to which the larger animals such as elephants and rhinos have been moved. As well as being the first scientific zoo, ZSL London Zoo also opened the first Reptile house (1849), first public Aquarium (1853), first insect house (1881) and the first children's zoo (1938).
ZSL receives no state funding and relies on 'Fellows', 'Friends', 'Members', entrance fees and sponsorship to generate income.
7. The British Museum, in London, is widely considered to be one of the world's greatest museums of human history and culture. Its permanent collection, numbering some eight million works, is amongst the finest, most comprehensive, and largest in existence and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present.
The British Museum was established in 1753, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientistSir Hans Sloane. The museum first opened to the public on 15 January 1759 inMontagu House in Bloomsbury, on the site of the current museum building. Its expansion over the following two and a half centuries was largely a result of an expanding British colonial footprint and has resulted in the creation of several branch institutions, the first being the British Museum (Natural History) in South Kensington in 1887. Some objects in the collection, most notably the Elgin Marblesfrom the Parthenon, are the objects of intense controversy and of calls for restitution to their countries of origin.
Until 1997, when the British Library (previously centred on the Round Reading Room) moved to a new site,the British Museum was unique in that it housed both a national museum of antiquities and a national libraryin the same building. The museum is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and as with all other national museums in the United Kingdom it charges no admission fee. Since 2002 the director of the museum has been Neil MacGregor.
8. Piccadilly is a major street in Central London, running from Hyde Park Corner in the west to Piccadilly Circus in the east. It is completely within the city of Westminster. The street is part of the A4 road, London's second most important western artery.St. James's lies to the south of the eastern section of the street, while the western section is built up only on the northern side and overlooks Green Park. The area to the north is Mayfair.
It is the location of Fortnum & Mason, the Royal Academy, The Ritz Hotel, the RAF Club and Hatchardsbook shop. Simpsons, once amongst the United Kingdom's leading clothing stores, opened on Piccadilly in the 1930s. The store closed in 1999 and the site is now the flagship shop of the booksellersWaterstone's.
9. Downing Street in London, England has for over two hundred years housed the official residences of two of the most senior British cabinet ministers: the First Lord of the Treasury, an office now synonymous with that of Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and the Second Lord of the Treasury, an office held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Prime Minister's official residence is10 Downing Street; the Chancellor's official residence is next door at Number 11. The Government's Chief Whip has an official residence at Number 9.
Downing Street is located in Whitehall in Central London, a few minutes' walk from the Houses of Parliamentand a little farther from Buckingham Palace. The street was built in the 1680s by Sir George Downing (1632–1689) on the site of a mansion called Hampden House. The houses on the west side of the street were demolished in the nineteenth century to make way for government offices, now occupied by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
10. Big Ben is the nickname for the great bell of the clock at the north end of the Palace of Westminster in London, and is generally extended to refer to the clock or the clock tower as well. It is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It celebrated its 150th anniversary on 31 May 2009, during which celebratory events took place. The erecting of the tower was completed on 10 April 1858. The clock tower has become one of the most prominent symbols of both London and England, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.
11. The Palace of Westminster, also known as the Houses of Parliament or Westminster Palace, is the meeting place of the two houses of the Parliament-the House of Lords and the House of Commons. It lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the heart of the London borough of the City of Westminster, close to the historic Westminster Abbey and the government buildings of Whitehall and Downing Street. The name may refer to either of two structures: the Old Palace, a medieval building complex, most of which was destroyed in 1834, and its replacement New Palace that stands today. The palace retains its original style and status as a royal residence for ceremonial purposes.
The first royal palace was built on the site in the eleventh century, and Westminster was the primary London residence of the Kings of England until a fire destroyed much of the complex in 1512. After that, it served as the home of Parliament, which had been meeting there since the thirteenth century, and the seat of the Royal Courts of Justice, based in and around Westminster Hall. In 1834, an even greater fire ravaged the heavily rebuilt Houses of Parliament, and the only structures of significance to survive were Westminster Hall, the Cloisters of St Stephen's, the Chapel of St Mary Undercroft and the Jewel Tower.
The subsequent competition for the reconstruction of the Palace was won by architect Charles Barry and his design for a building in the Perpendicular style. The remains of the Old Palace (with the exception of the detached Jewel Tower) were incorporated in its much larger replacement, which contains over 1,100 rooms organised symmetrically around two series of courtyards. Part of the New Palace's area of 3.24 hectares (8 acres) was reclaimed from the Thames, which is the setting of its principal façade, the 266-metre (873 ft) river front. Barry was assisted by Augustus W. N. Pugin, a leading authority on Gothic architecture and style, who provided designs for the decoration and furnishings of the Palace. Construction started in 1840 and lasted for thirty years, suffering great delays and cost overruns, as well as the death of both leading architects; works for the interior decoration continued intermittently well into the twentieth century. Major conservation work has been carried out since, due to the effects of London's air pollution, and extensive repairs took place after the Second World War, including the reconstruction of the Commons Chamber following its bombing in 1941.
The Palace is one of the centres of political life in the United Kingdom; "Westminster" has become ametonym for the UK Parliament, and the Westminster system of government has taken its name after it. Its Clock Tower, in particular, which has become known as "Big Ben" after its main bell, is an iconic landmark of London and the United Kingdom in general, one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of parliamentary democracy. The Palace of Westminster has been a Grade I listed building since 1970 and part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.
12. The London Eye is a 135-metre (443 ft) tall giant Ferris wheel situated on the banks of the River Thames, in London, England.
It is the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe, and the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, visited by over 3.5 million people annually. When erected in 1999, it was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world, until surpassed first by the 160 m (520 ft) Star of Nanchang in 2006, and then the 165 m (541 ft) Singapore Flyer in 2008. It is still described by its operators as "the world's tallest cantilevered observation wheel" (as the wheel is supported by an A-frame on one side only, unlike the Nanchang and Singapore wheels).
Commonly known as the London Eye, or Millennium Wheel, formerly the Merlin Entertainments London Eye and before that, the British Airways London Eye. Since 20 January 2011, it has been officially known as the EDF Energy London Eye following a three-year sponsorship deal.
The London Eye is located at the western end of Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames in the London Borough of Lambeth, between Westminster and Hungerford Bridge. The site is adjacent to that of the former Dome of Discovery, which was built for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
13. The Sea Life London Aquarium is located on the ground floor ofCounty Hall on the South Bank of the River Thames in Central London, near the EDF Energy London Eye. It first opened in March 1997 as the London Aquarium and remains the capital's largest collection of aquatic species and hosts about one million visitors each year.