Wednesday, July 30, 2008

25 London Must Sees

London has a lot of attractions that any visitor to London will not want to miss. It is a large city, so large that most visitors never realy leave the middle of town. Which is fine, as London has many of it's most interesting bits just walking distance away from each other. Of course, there is the need for the occasional Tube ride, and that is also something every one who goes to London needs to see.

25 Top Attractions in London-well, make it 26 Top London Attractions-in no particular order.

Hampstead Heath- The Heath is only four miles from Trafalgar Square and has about 800 acres of lovely countryside. It is rich in flora and fauna, is enjoyed by thousands and is within easy reach of millions!. The landscape has woodland, meadows, heathland and many ponds along its valleys and features such as hedgerows and ancient trees provide links with the past. Kingfishers, reed warblers and all three species of British woodpecker breed, over 300 species of fungi have grown here and many-specied bats are here. The area is composed of East Heath, Kenwood House, Golders Hill Heath Extension, Sandy Heath, the Hill Garden and Pergola and West Heath.

British Museum-It is well worth popping in and having a quick look round, check out the cat mummy and all the other amazing items on display. Its collections, which number more than 13 million objects, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive in the world and originate from all continents, illustrating and documenting the story of human culture from its beginning to the present. The Great Court with it's lattice work glass ceiling is a favorite subject of photographers.

Buckingham Palace-The State Rooms of the Palace are open to visitors during the Annual Summer Opening in August and September. They are lavishly furnished with some of the greatest treasures from the Royal Collection - paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer, Poussin, Canaletto and Claude; sculpture by Canova and Chantrey; exquisite examples of Sèvres porcelain; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world.

Tower of London-Another place that needs at least half a day just to wander through and see what there is to see, Raven, Crown Jewels, Towers, Weapons, Armor, and all kinds of history. The Tower of London is often identified with the White Tower, the original stark square fortress built by William the Conqueror in 1078. However, the tower as a whole is a complex of several buildings set within two concentric rings of defensive walls and a moat. The Tower of London is reputedly the most haunted building in England. The ghost of Queen Anne Boleyn, beheaded in 1536 for treason against King Henry VIII, has allegedly been seen haunting the chapel of St Peter-ad-Vincula, where she is buried, and walking around the White Tower carrying her head under her arm.

Shopping at Portabelo Road-Market days start gradually from around 5.30am with trading between dealers from the UK and overseas. Most stall holders have arrived by 8.00am and the market is in full swing for the rest of the day, with collectors and visitors from all over the world.
The shops and stalls of Portobello Road offer an extraordinary variety of goods ranging in price from a few pounds to several thousands.

Hampton Court Palace-Lots of great stuff to look at here, and lot so of people wandering around in period costumes. The buildings and gardens are most impressive and lawns are lovely expanses of green. I'd advise taking the train to get there from London, as the boat trip I took last three and half hours. Of course, it was a lovely time floating down the Thames and seeing all those bridges.

Highgate Cemetery-If your like me you love nothing better than a nice wander around some old tombstones and Highgate has some of the best monuments in the world. Among the famous and imfamous buried here are Karl Marx, Douglas Adams, George Eliot, Henry Moore, and Ralph Richardson. Countless lessor known persons are resting here as well. There is a lot of green among the gray stones and it is an interesting place to pass the odd hour.

London Theatre-You'll often find some of the best British Actors on stage in London. Unlike America Actors, the Brits don't mind doing something besides the movies once in a while. But even if you don't see some Sir or Dame up on stage, the shows in London are one of those London attractions that are not to be missed. Whether new or a revival, there's bound to be something showing worth seeing.

St Paul's Cathedral-St Paul's Cathedral is an Anglican cathedral on Ludgate Hill, in the City of London, and the seat of the Bishop of London. The present building dates from the 17th century and is generally reckoned to be London's fifth St Paul's Cathedral, although the number is higher if every major medieval reconstruction is counted as a new cathedral. The cathedral is one of London's most visited sites. The cathedral sits on the edge of London's oldest region, the City. The City originated as a Roman trading post along the edge of the River Thames.

House of Parliament-Parliament is open to all members of the UK public and overseas visitors. You can watch laws being made, attend debates and committees, tour the buildings, or climb the Clock Tower-It's essential that you feel confident in your health and fitness before climbing the Clock Tower(Big Ben). It's a very beautiful building and one that shows up in a lot of postcards and tourist snapshots. Stand right beside one of the great glass faces of Big Ben-that's pretty cool.

Tate Modern-Created in the year 2000 from a disused power station in the heart of London, Tate Modern displays the national collection of international modern art. This is defined as art since 1900. Tate Modern includes modern British art where it contributes to the story of modern art, so major modern British artists may be found at both Tate Modern and Tate Britain. You just can't hit too many Museums in London.

Somerset House-A beautiful building in the heart of London, The Neoclassical palace that stands today between the bustle of The Strand and the sweep of the river occupies the same site as the original Somerset House, an imposing mansion built in 1547 by Edward Seymour, 'Protector Somerset' to the Tudor King Edward VI. The 18th century palace reveals its secrets and surprises on free guided tours on the first & third (excluding 16 August) Saturday of every month, at 12:15, 13:15, 14:15 and 15:15.

Neasden Temple-One of Oh, you-don't-see-that-everyday kind of places. BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London is the first traditional Hindu Mandir in Europe. 2,820 tonnes of Bulgarian limestone and 2,000 tonnes of Italian Carrara marble were shipped to India, carved by over 1,500 craftsmen and reshipped to London. In all, 26,300 carved pieces were assembled like a giant jigsaw puzzle in less than 3 years. Since it is a Temple there are many restrictions that need to be followed when visiting.

Notting Hill Carnival-The Notting Hill Carnival has been taking place in London, on the last weekend in August, every year since 1965. This great festival began initially from the energies of Black immigrants from the Caribbean, particularly from Trinidad, where the Carnival tradition is very strong, and from people living locally who dreamed of creating a festival to bring together the people of Notting Hill, most of whom were facing racism, lack of working opportunities, and poor housing conditions resulting in a general suppression of good self-esteem.

Imperial War Museum
-The Imperial War Museum is unique in its coverage of conflicts, especially those involving Britain and the Commonwealth, from the First World War to the present day. It seeks to provide for, and to encourage, the study and understanding of the history of modern war and ‘war-time experience’. It is proud to be regarded as one of the essential sights of London.

Chinatown-London’s original Chinatown was in the East End, where Chinese employees of the East India Company had first appeared in the 18th century. British soldiers had returned from the Far East with a new appetite for Chinese cuisine. A few restaurateurs set up business in Gerrard Street in the West End, a street that already had a reputation for interesting cuisine as the site of some of London’s first European restaurants. The popularity of the new Chinese establishments attracted more Chinese entrepreneurs away from the East End to seek their fortunes, and the Chinatown of today was born.

London Eye-Since opening in March 2000 The London Eye has become an iconic landmark and a symbol of modern Britain. The London Eye is the UK’s most popular paid for visitor attraction, visited by over 3.5 million people a year. A breathtaking feat of design and engineering, passengers in the London Eye's capsules can see up to 40 kilometres in all directions. British Airways was the main sponsor of the London Eye until February 2008.

Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park-Covering 111 hectares (275 acres), Kensington Gardens is planted with formal avenues of magnificent trees and ornamental flower beds. It is a perfect setting for Kensington Palace, peaceful Italian Gardens, the Albert Memorial, Peter Pan statue and the Serpentine Gallery. Hyde Park is one of London's finest historic landscapes covering 142 hectares (350 acres). There is something for everyone in Hyde Park. With over 4,000 trees, a lake, a meadow, horse rides and more it is easy to forget you're in the middle of London.

Shopping in Covent Garden-Shopping in Covent Garden is exciting. Some of the things you can buy there, you can't get anywhere else. Although rent is higher here than anywhere else in London, quite often the shops and markets sell at low profit margins to compete to sell some of the choicest quality things available anywhere. You can get bargains and rarities - not just in the Piazza.

Greenwich-Greenwich is a district in south-east London, on the south bank of the River Thames in the London Borough of Greenwich. It is best known for its maritime history and as giving its name to the Greenwich Meridian (0° longitude) and Greenwich Mean Time. The maritime connections of Greenwich were celebrated in the 20th century, with the siting of the Cutty Sark and Gypsy Moth IV next to the river front, and the National Maritime Museum in the former buildings of the Royal Hospital School in 1934. Greenwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created.

Victoria and Albert Museum-The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A) in London is the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects. Now named after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, it was founded in 1852 as the South Kensington Museum, the V&A has since grown to now cover some 12.5 acres and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, in virtually every medium, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa.

Sir John Soane's Museum-Soane's collections included approximately 30,000 architectural drawings, ranging from a book of drawings of Elizabethan houses by John Thorpe to the largest collection anywhere of Robert Adam's original drawings. There are also architectural models. 15 of Giovanni Battista Piranesi's original sketches of Paestum hang in the Picture Room. The collection of Neo-classical sculpture collection includes both plaster and terracotta works by John Flaxman. And that's just one part of a one of the seemingly endless collections. There is a lot to see here.

London Pubs-The Best Pubs in London is a subject some serious debate and everyone seems to have thier own favorite pub. The pub is more than just a shop where drinks are sold and consumed. For centuries it has been a place where friends meet, colleagues 'talk shop' and business people negotiate deals; a place where people gather to celebrate, play games, or to seek quiet relaxation. Due to changes in the law, the pub is now a place for families. It is re-establishing itself as the place to eat, a tradition that had all but disappeared after the last war. Many provide affordable accommodation, particularly in rural areas. In remote communities pubs often serve a dual role, such as church or post office.

No. 11 Bus-Route 11 starts at the bus station of Liverpool Street station in the north eastern corner of the City of London and terminates at Fulham Broadway travelling via the West End and some of London's most famous landmarks. The journey from the top deck is a cheap means of sightseeing in London.

Kew Gardens-The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew are a spectacular 300 acres of public gardens, containing more than 30,000 species of plants. The highlights of a visit to Kew are the two great 19th-century greenhouses filled with tropical plants, many of which have been there as long as their housing. Both the Palm House and the Temperate House were designed by Sir Decimus Burton, the first opening in 1848, the second in 1899. The Princess of Wales Conservatory, the latest and the largest plant house at Kew, was opened in 1987 by Princess Diana.

National Gallery-London's National Gallery, founded in 1824, houses a rich collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900 in its home on Trafalgar Square. The collection belongs to the British public and entry to the main collection is free, although there are charges for entry to special exhibitions. The present building, on the northern side of Trafalgar Square, is the third to house the Gallery, and like its predecessors it has often been deemed inadequate. This is a perfect place to wander around and just marvel at what you'll find.

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