While the cityscape continues to drastically skew towards the modern, pockets of Britain’s fabled history are still bountiful all throughout historic London. Taking a detour from roaring soccer games or bustling streets sees you time-traveling back to eras of knights, queens, kings and Crown Jewels. The next time you find yourself in this international nexus of contemporary, make time to seek out just a few of these highlights of the city.
Westminster Abbey has a storied spot in the British Empire’s history: Every monarch since William the Conqueror (circa 1066) has been crowned here — save for the odd Edward. Every square inch of the structure is chock full of meaning: beyond the sanctuary lie shrines (such as the Shrine of St. Edward the Confessor), graves of grave importance (besides the royals, you’ll find famous poets and scientists like Charles Dickens and Sir Isaac Newton), as well as a whole host of traditional (albeit ornate) church trappings — the High Altar, the Quire, the Chapter House and the Pyx Chamber are all staples of houses of the holy.
Formally “Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London,” the Tower of London has had a greater role in Britain than its morbid dungeon reputation lets on. Besides being a prison for nearly a millennium, it has also been an armory, treasury, menagerie, public record office and of course — a museum for all of the above. A visit here today no longer means just the chance to see the chopping block, but rather an opportunity to journey through the fortress’s eclectic yesteryears, as well as get a glimpse of the fabled Crown Jewels.
As the picturesque center of government for the United Kingdom along the River Thames’ bank, the Palace of Westminster’s historical significance extends well into the current day (Brexit — yikes). However, the hubbub of running the country bears plenty worth witnessing: Visitors are welcome to attend debates and committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Beyond the current day, tours will walk you through the passages of time all the way back to the Magna Carta — and up to sweeping views atop the top of Elizabeth Tower (pending refurbishments).
Eager to embark on a tour of historic London? Our travel agents can help in more ways than one. Not only can they provide insights and recommendations on par with a historian, but also they can connect you to top-notch tour companies — with the added benefit of exclusive perks and amenities. Sightseeing under the expert guidance of CIE Tours makes your vacation one for the history books.