The River Thames is one of London’s prides and used to be the city’s source of commerce and trade. When Londoners want a great view of this mighty river, they often head to either Waterloo Bridge or London Bridge. However, Tower Bridge is equally one of the best places to enjoy the breathtaking Thames panorama. Westminster Bridge is also a highlight, positioned with Big Ben and Houses of Parliament on one end and the London Eye on the other. Golden Jubilee Bridge is another handsome one, especially at night, when the lights are lit and the whole city draws a glittering picture.
Buckingham Palace has been the official London residence of Britain’s sovereigns since 1837. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality, and some parts are also open to public visitors. More than 50,000 people visit the Palace each year as guests to banquets, lunches, dinners, receptions and the Royal Garden Parties, which are held usually in July. The Forecourt of Buckingham Palace is used for Changing of the Guard, a major ceremony and tourist attraction (daily during the summer months and every other day during the winter). The Palace’s garden, which contains a lake, is the largest private garden in London. Tours include The State Rooms, The Royal Mews, The Queen’s Gallery and the garden.
Big Ben is the largest four-faced chiming clock and the third-tallest free-standing clock tower in the world. It was designed by the lawyer and amateur horologist Edmund Beckett Denison, and George Airy, the Astronomer Royal. Construction was entrusted to clockmaker Edward John Dent, who completed the work in 1854, yet the tower was not complete until 1859. The clock first ticked on 31st May and celebrated its 150th anniversary in May 2009. It is famous for its reliability. The main bell, officially known as the Great Bell, is the largest bell in the tower and part of the Great Clock of Westminster. The clock plays the first line at a quarter past the hour, the first and second lines on the half hour, three lines at a quarter to and the whole four on the hour.
The clock has become a symbol of the United Kingdom and London, particularly in the visual media, and is often displayed with a red double-decker bus or black cab in the foreground. The Clock Tower is a focus of New Year celebrations in the United Kingdom, with radio and TV stations tuning to its chimes to welcome the start of the year. Similarly, on Remembrance Day, the chimes of Big Ben are broadcast to mark the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month and the start of two minutes’ silence. Big Ben is not open to public access, yet UK residents can arrange a tour through their local MP.