With thousands of years of history, an international population, and over 7.5 million people, the City of London is one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. The Port of London contains four UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London, the settlement of Greenwich, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the combined Palace of Westminster-Westminster Abbey-St. Margaret's Church. The Port of London also offers some of the best theatrical productions in the world, numberless quaint pubs, a limitless exciting nightlife, hundreds of family-oriented amusements, and some of the world's most fascinating museums and historic sites. For a better description of the many things to see and do while visiting one of the world's great cities, please visit the city's tourism website.
View from across the Thames. Taken December 2007.
Photo by Alvesgaspar
The Port of London has a temperate marine climate that seldom experiences extremely low or extremely high temperatures. Summers are warm, and some days can get uncomfortably hot. Winters are cold, but not often below freezing during the day, and snow falls several times a year. Spring in the Port of London is mild with cool evenings, and autumn is mild with a changeable mix of warm and cool winds. While the Port of London is generally dry, dense fog and light rainfall is common throughout the year. Temperatures range from an average high of 23 ° C (74 ° F) in July and August to an average low of 2 ° C (36 ° F) in January and February.
One must-see for visitors in the Port of London is Westminster Abbey and the Palace of Westminster in St. James. The Palace includes the Houses of Parliament and world-famous Big Ben, and the Abbey has been the site for royal coronations since 1066 when England was just beginning to feel its power. Westminster Abbey holds over a thousand years of history. Benedictine monks started daily worship services on the Port of London site in the middle of the 10th Century. The first royal coronation was held in the Abbey in 1066, and seventeen monarchs are buried there. Today's church was started in 1245 by Henry III when Anglo-Saxon England was still strong. Its archives are a center for study and research for scholars from around the world. The building contains a collection of paintings, stained glass, pavements, textiles, and other artifacts that any museum would be more than proud to hold.
Photo by Jdforrester
The tombs and memorials within its walls make up the United Kingdom's most important collection of monuments. Monarchs are not the only people interred there. Other great characters from England's history have found their eternal rest in Westminster Abbey. Geoffrey Chaucer, William Blake, William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, John Milton, T.S. Eliot, John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Thomas Hardy, Robert Browning, and William Wordsworth have found an immortal rest in the Poets' Corner. Other greats include Isaac Newton, William Gladstone, George Fredrick Handel, Samuel Johnson, Charles Darwin, David Livingstone, Laurence Olivier, and many more. Set aside at least half a day to see the amazing architectural treasure and its overwhelming contents.
Visitors to the Port of London will also want to set aside the better part of the day to see the Tower of London, the icon known around the world for its fascinating and bloody history. More than 900 years old, the Tower of London is still guarded by the Beefeaters, the 12 Yeoman Wardens responsible for looking after Tower prisoners and guarding the crown jewels. Today, they are an attraction in themselves and are more tour guides than guards.
Many think the Tower is the most haunted building in the world. William the Conqueror started the building in the ancient Port of London, and following monarchs added to the fortifications and added personal touches and features. At the center stands the Norman White Tower. Built in 1078, the White Tower was meant to protect the Norman invaders from the residents of the city.
The White Tower of the Tower of London, built in 1078 by William the Conqueror.
Photo by Crux
Over time, the White Tower became a prison for the country's most celebrated "criminals," usually before their execution, including many of Henry VIII's victims (including some of his wives), the two boys reputedly murdered by Richard III, Sir Walter Raleigh, Guy Fawkes, Rudolf Hess, and any number of kings, queens, and pretenders to the throne. High-class convicts were publicly beheaded on the Port of London's Tower Hill. Some were beheaded privately on the Tower Green and buried nearby in the Chapel Royal. The Beefeaters will tell you stories of these tragic events.
The Port of London's Tower of London also holds one of the world's richest and most impressive collections: the Crown Jewels. Used during the coronation of a new king or queen, the oldest items date from the Restoration and the coronation of King Charles II. Oliver Cromwell destroyed the original collection after Charles I was executed in 1649, a terrible act of historic vandalism that can never be undone. The Imperial Crown of State contains some surviving jewels, including Edward the Confessor's sapphire set in a Maltese cross on the top of the crown. It also sports a ruby with a very long and involved history, beginning with the King of Granada and being owned by Edward, the Black Prince, Richard II, Henry V, Richard III, and Henry Tudor. Replacing a crown destroyed by Cromwell, St. Edward's Crown is made of gold and encrusted with gold, pearls, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires The crown made for the Queen Mother contains the famous 13th Century Koh-i-noor diamond from India. The Imperial Crown of India made for George V when he visited that colony is set with over six thousand precious gems. The world's biggest cut diamond graces the Royal Sceptre with the Cross. Several other scepters on display in the Crown Jewels. The collection also includes five Swords of State, maces, a Queens orb, silver state trumpets, and banqueting plates. Prepare to be awed by this amazing collection and display of wealth.
For a romantic outdoor experience during your visit to the Port of London, St. James' Park is a wonderful place, located between Buckingham Palace and the Horse Guards Parade, in the heart of London. Covering 23 hectares, the park has a lake and beautiful gardens. Three royal palaces in the Port of London surround the park, including Westminster Palace, St. James Palace, and Buckingham Palace. Duck Island is home to many ducks, gulls, swans, and pelicans. The Park is also the site of band concerts in the summer. If you want to picnic in a near-ideal environment, St. James Park is the place to go.
Photo by Diliff
The Port of London's Trafalgar Square, memorializing the famous battle and Lord Nelson's victory, is a busy must-see pedestrian center and the site of many cultural events, performances, and special activities. It has the biggest Christmas tree in London, a gift from Norway, during the holidays. Its fountains and monuments attract people from all over the world, including political activists who occasionally demonstrate there. It's said that the fountains were originally placed there to discourage large crowds who might have political complaints. The Port of London's National Gallery borders the square. Pigeons became a serious problem until the city employed falcons to control them.