When a man is tired of London? He is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford,” Samuel Johnson. Today, more than 200 years later, Johnson’s words still ring true. There are few places that offer such a variety of sights, entertainments, educational and business opportunities, world-famous museums and theatres, and superb shopping.
London draws people from all over the world. Some come to study, to work or on holiday. London is naturally a very English city, yet it is the least typical of Britain as it is very cosmopolitan, containing goods, food and entertainment, as well as people, from many countries of the world. London spreads its influence over much of the southern areas of England; it gives work to millions of people who live not only in the inner-city areas, but in surrounding districts.
Some people even commute over 100 miles (over 150 km) every day to work in London. There is much in London which fascinates visitors and inspires the affection of Londoners: the splendor of the royal palaces and the Houses of Parliament, the dignity of St. Paul’s Cathedral and many monuments, the fine architecture of numerous historic buildings, and the beautiful parks. London shows examples of buildings that express all the different areas of its history, it manages in a unique way to reflect it’s past and at the same time to fulfill the functions of a modern city with its commercialism and bustle.
London is the capital of Great Britain. It is a political, economic and commercial center. It is one of the most enjoyable cities. Visited by millions of tourists, the city offers them an astonishing variety of scenes. London is one of the largest cities in the world and its population is about 9 million. London is situated on the river Thames. The city is very old. It has more than 20 centuries of history. Traditionally, the city is divided into several parts: the City, Westminster, the West End and the East End.
City of London today is the financial powerhouse of the country and one of the chief commercial centers of the western world. The City has its own Lord Mayor, its own government and its own police force. Here the medieval buildings stand side by side with modern steel and glass high-rise office blocks. The territory of the City is just over one square mile, but it contains several banks, including the Bank of England, the Stock Exchange and offices of many financial companies. Westminster is the aristocratic, official part of London. It includes Buckingham Palace, where the Queen lives, and the House of Parliament, which stretches for nearly 1000 feet along the north bank of the Thames. Westminster Abbey is a national shrine where the kings and queens are crowned and famous people buried. Chaucer, Tennyson, Newton, Dickens, Hardy, and Kipling are buried in Westminster Abbey.
The House of Parliament, officially called the Palace of Westminster, was formerly a palace for kings and queens. The Palace was used both as a royal residence and as a parliament house until the 16th century. In the course of the 16th century, the royal family moved to a new palace within half a mile Whitehall Palace, Westminster Palace was occupied by the Parliament and became its permanent home. The Parliament of the United Great Britain and Northern Ireland consists of just over 1000 members of different grades of nobility. In the House of Commons, there are 635 members. The Clock Towers, contain the hour bell called “Big Ben,” is known all over the world. The bell is named after Sir Benjamin Hall, the first Commissioner of Works. The Tower of London was built in the 11th century. It was one of the first and most impressive castles built after the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The Tower has been used as a royal palace, an observatory, an arsenal, a state prison and many famous and infamous people have been executed within its walls. It is now a museum. For many visitors the principal attraction is the Crown Jewels, the finest precious stones of the nation. A fine collection of armor is exhibited in the Keep.
Trafalgar Square is the geographical center of London. It was so named to commemorate Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The monument in the middle of this square, known as Nelson’s Column, is surmounted with a Statue of Nelson 16 feet high. The pedestal of the Column is decorated with bas-reliefs representing Nelson’s most famous victories. At the base of the column, there are four big lions. On the north side of the square are the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. The National Gallery has an outstanding collection of finest arts from Britain, Italy, Denmark and other countries. Piccadilly Circus has become an important meeting point – for traffic as well as sightseers. At its heart is a bronze fountain topped by a figure of a winged archer, popularly known as Eros, the pagan god of love.
The majority of London’s places of entertainment are concentrated around Piccadilly Circus. This area is now famous for its theatres, clubs and shops. Whitehall is a street in central London running from Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament and containing many important buildings and government offices: the Foreign and Commonwealth offices, the Treasury, Admiralty and Ministry of Defence. In the center of the roadway stands the Cenotaph, the memorial to the fallen of both world wars. The Prime Minister’s residence at No. 10 Downing Street is directly connected to Whitehall.
London is always full of life. The streets are crowded with traffic. High “double-decker” buses rise above the smaller cars and vans. The parks of London provide a welcome contrast to the great built-up areas. St. James’s Park, Green Park, Hyde Park, and Kensington gardens are linked together. They form 313 hectares of open parkland in the heart of London.