When it comes to awesome-feats of engineering and iconic buildings, London is pretty hard to beat. From Royal residences to historical churches here are five of my favourites..
The British Royal family are something of a novelty across the world and with the arrival of baby George, curiosity in the family has been cranked up several notches. The building most central to all this curiosity is the much-loved Buckingham Palace. The palace is comprised of 775 rooms and was built in the 1700s, originally as a townhouse for the Duke of Buckingham and had been in private ownership for at least 150 years. This big and beautiful building finally became the official royal palace of the British monarch on the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 and today it’s one of the most visited buildings in London.
Tower of London
This historic building was constructed around 900 years ago, and has also been home to royalty in its lifetime. However, it is most famous for housing the unfortunate souls who were imprisoned there. Guy Fawkes was one of its most notorious prisoners, as was Hitler’s deputy Rudolph Hess. One of the oldest buildings to form part of the Tower of London is of course, the White Tower. The White Tower is part of a World Heritage site and has in recent years undergone some construction work to address some of the deterioration and wear and tear of the building. Over 1,367 stones were fixed, and the result is a robust and interesting tower that still retains its ancient and historical character.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir is perhaps one of the most glorious examples of workmanship in the UK. It is a medley of ancient Indian art and tradition that rises above London’s skyline. It represents over 8,500 years of religious belief, and was the dream of Yogiji Maharaj, who visited the UK in 1970. As a result, his guru, Pramukh Swami Maharaj inspired the mandir and consecrated it in 1995. The sheer amount of manpower that has gone into constructing this beautiful temple is a testament to all of the devotees who have carried out the mind-boggling feats of quarrying the stones, transporting them and carving them up, in addition to fundraising and volunteering to get it built.
St Paul’s Cathedral
There is always something special about the architecture of churches and St Paul’s is no exception. Built between 1675 and 1710, there is always something to see here and it often hosts concerts, debates and talks. The cathedral went through a £40 million programme of cleaning and repair work for its 300th anniversary in 2011. One of the most impressive areas of the building is the Whispering Gallery, situated 30 metres above the cathedral floor and famous for its acoustics. And if you can summon the energy to clamber up 530 steps to the Golden Gallery then you will be rewarded with the absolutely stunning views of central London.
And who could forget Tower Bridge? It is one of the most impressive structures which lies in the heart of London. It sits above the River Thames and has been in existence since 1894. But this is no ordinary bridge. Because not only do you have the chance to walk across it, you can also view the various art displays and talks from the high level walkways on the bridge. Did you know that you can also hire rooms out on the bridge? And what better place to hold an event than on top of the River Thames, looking out over the city of London?