1 British Museum
2 Covent Garden Piazza
3 Houses of Parliament (Palace of Westminster)
4 National Gallery
5 Natural History Museum
6 St Paul's Cathedral
7 Science Museum
8 Tower of London
9 Victoria & Albert Museum
10 Westminster Abbey
8 Tower of London
London's foremost historical site, the Tower has served as castle, palace, prison, arsenal, jewel house and site of execution over its 900-year lifespan.
The oldest part of the Tower of London is the great central keep. Known as the White Tower, it was begun by William I in 1078 to intimidate his newly conquered subjects; the rest of the fortifications took on their present shape in the late 13th and early 14th centuries.All tours begin with an hour long, highly entertaining guided walk led by one of the Tower's traditionally dressed Yeoman Warders (Beefeaters). They gleefully relate stories of imprisonment, torture and intrigue, while taking you past a few of the 20 towers, the famous ravens ('only so long as they stay will the White Tower stand'), Traitors' Gate and the execution site of Tower Green. Here, among others, Henry VIII's wives Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard lost their heads. After visiting the adjacent Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula you are left to explore by yourself and join the inevitable queues at the Jewel House and the White Tower. Both are well worth the wait. The former houses the Crown Jewels, many of which date back to the 17th-century Restoration period and are still used by the present Queen and royal family. The White Tower is home to part of the magnificent Royal Armouries and also includes the beautiful, very atmospheric 11th-century Chapel of St John. Also highly recommended is a visit to the restored rooms of the medieval palace.
Address: Tower of London
Phone: (020) 7709 0765 WEBSITE: www.hrp.org.uk
Open: Mar-Oct Mon-Sat 9-5, Sun 10-5; Nov-Feb Tue-Sat 9-4, Sun-Mon 10-4.
Restaurant: Café (Inexpensive)
Bus: 15, x15, 25, 42, 78, 100, D1, D9, D11
Metro: Tower Hill
Train: Fenchurch Street, London Bridge
Accessible: Tower staff very willing to help but inherent problems with old buildings. Phone in advance for details
Admission: Very expensive
Practical: Buy tickets in advance from any underground station to avoid waiting at the Tower entrance