London’s history stretches back at least 6,000 years. Remnants of a large wooden structure dating to 4500 BC and the remains of a Bronze Age bridge have been uncovered on the South Bank of the Thames. Ancient Romans made London the capital of their province of Britannia in 100 AD, calling it “Londinium.” After the collapse of the Roman Empire, the city was temporarily abandoned, until it was again colonized by the Anglo-Saxons.
The London of today is a sprawling metropolis, a center of culture, commerce, media, and tourism. With a population of more than 13 million, London is the most populous city in the United Kingdom, and one of the world’s leading financial centers. It’s the most visited city in the world, and with excellent reason. There’s so much to do and see here that it would quite simply be impossible to take it all in during a single visit.
London Lifestyle and Culture
When it comes to culture, London most certainly has it all. It’s known the world over for its fashion, its renowned design schools and its household-name designers. It’s also a center of the motion picture and music industries, where countless blockbuster films and platinum-selling albums have been produced, and where celebrity gala events are a fairly regular occurrence.
The literary tradition of London goes back to the 14th century, when the pilgrims of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales set out from a local inn. London has always been, and still is, home to a great many highly regarded writers, from William Shakespeare to Agatha Christie, from JRR Tolkien to JK Rowling.
In London, sports fans have plenty to cheer about. The city hosts six Premier League football clubs, two professional rugby teams, the annual tennis Wimbledon Championships, boat races, marathons and more. And London was put on the maps of countless other sports fans during the 2012 Summer Olympic Games, when it hosted the event.
No trip to London is complete without taking in a few of the city’s many cultural landmarks.
London Sights and Entertainment
The Westminster borough of the city is home to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, the grand church that has been the site of royal coronations since the year 1066. During August and September, the adjacent Houses of Parliament can be toured while parliament is out of session; debates are open to public viewing while it is in session.
Piccadilly Circus, the Times Square of London to many, shines with neon and bustles with tourists and locals. All things in London seem to converge here at this major city juncture, where you’ll find ample options for shopping and entertainment. The Circus, or Circle, is home to a famous statue of Eros, the Greek God of Love, and several other notable London landmarks, including the London Pavilion and the Criterion Theater.
Nearby, Buckingham Palace is the official residence of the royal family. This historic and opulent residence is open for tours during the summer, and the famous Changing of the Guard ceremony happens daily. It is one of the city’s most awe-inspiring landmarks.
One of London’s latest installments provides a bird’s-eye view of the Thames River and the city that straddles its banks. The London Eye, opened in 1999, is a Ferris wheel standing 443 feet tall. Each of its cars can carry 25 passengers and the view from the top is breathtaking.
In the borough of Greenwich, the Old Royal Naval College, the Old Royal Observatory and the National Maritime Museum have played a major role in Britain’s sea initiatives. Here, Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT, was established as a worldwide benchmark for timekeeping. An excellent view of the Thames and plenty of historic old pubs make Greenwich a very pleasant place to spend an afternoon.