England's capital city is as culturally diverse as it is full of historical sites. Founded by the Romans, this city is now one of the world's largest financial centers, and its residents speak more than 300 different languages. London contains the world's busiest international airport and a vast range of historic sites, amenities and cultural diversions.
Buckingham Palace was built in 1705. In 1837, during the reign of Queen Victoria, it became the official residence of the British royalty. When Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is in state at the palace, the Union Jack flag is replaced by the Royal Standard. The palace State Rooms are open to the public each August and September. You can also see the Changing of the Guards which takes place daily, and the collection of royal state carriages in the Royal Mews.
Westminster Abbey is a gothic cathedral, parts of which date back to 1042. It has been the location for all the coronations (except for two) since 1066. The architecture is breathtaking, and the chapel contains many royal tombs and coronation thrones. The south transept contains the famous Poet's Corner, named for its monuments to some of England's greatest poets. The abbey is also said to be haunted by two Benedictine monks whose ghosts visitors claim to have seen floating above the floor and disappearing into a wall.
Tower of London
The Tower of London is an essential stop on your visit to the city. This historic building is the Royal Palace and Fortress of Queen Elizabeth II. It is located on the north bank of the River Thames within the London borough of Tower Hamlets. You can arrive at the tower by boat on the River Thames and enjoy a stroll through the historic building, where you will see the dazzling Crown Jewels, Yeoman Beefeaters in ceremonial Tudor garb, meet the infamous castle ravens and visit the Bloody Tower where Sir Walter Raleigh was held prisoner.
Big Ben is the nickname for the 13-ton bell housed in the clock tower located at the northeastern end of the Palace of Westminster. It was cast in 1858 during the building of the new Houses of Parliament, after the old ones were destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1834. Though the clock tower is not open to the general public, it is possible to arrange a visit by writing to the House of Commons.