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Tower of London

The Tower of London (officially Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower of London) is an historic fortress in London located on the north bank of the River Thames. The fortress dates back to the 11th century during the time of William the Conqueror and the Norman conquest of England. The Tower of London is not only famous for its imposing structure but played a prominent role in England’s history and besieged several times.

Special warders called Beefeaters (officially called Yeoman Warders) dressed in uniforms dating back centuries during the Tudor era guard the Tower of London. The Beefeaters are retired warrants officers from the armed forces and more of a ceremonial guard and guide these days. The Historic Royal Palace is an independent charity organisation that looks after the Tower of London and its operating cost funded by donations and admission fees.

 Tower of London by Laika ac

About

Construction of the fortress began sometime around 1078 and completed in 1087 after the death of William the Conqueror. Throughout its history, the Tower of London was once a castle, prison, arsenal, royal mint and a zoo but now houses the Crown Jewels. The fortress is also the site where Henry VIII imprisoned his wife, Anne Boleyn, and later beheaded her. Despite its grisly reputation of torture and executions, there were only seven executions throughout its history before the Second World War.

Inside the Tower of London by IncMan

See & Do

The Tower of London is home to the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, a ceremonial regimental unit. A detachment from the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace mounts a guard at the fortress. On occasions, there is a gun salute by the Honourable Artillery Company. Ravens live and fly around the Tower and protected by a Royal Decree. According to ancient legend, tragedy would fall onto the fortress if the ravens were to leave.

Beefeaters at the Tower of London by Michel Wal

Visitors enter the fortress along Water Lane and you can tour the fortress on your own or follow an interesting free guided tour by the Beefeaters. The fortress comprises of three wards or enclosures that include the Outer Ward, Inner Ward and Innermost Ward. Despite popular fiction, there has never been a permanent torture chamber at the fortress. The White Tower was once the lodgings for the king or his representative but now displays collections from the Royal Armouries. The Tower Green is located at the centre of the Inner Ward and overlooks the White Tower.

Entrance to the Crown Jewels by Samuel Taylor Geer

The highlight of the visit is the Crown Jewels displayed in the Jewel House at the Waterloo Block (Barrack) located to the north of the White Tower. Due to the popularity, queues to see the Crown Jewels can be very long. On display are over 20,000 gemstones, an eight centuries old silver gilt Coronation Spoon, the Imperial State Crown and the St Edward's Crown used during the crowning ceremonies at Westminster Abbey. Among the jewels on the display is the legendary Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light) diamond, which is one of the largest cut diamonds in the world and was set into the Queen Mother’s Crown in 1937.

Visiting the Tower of London

The Tower of London is an amazing historical complex and designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With a history that is a thousand years old, the fortress is enough to keep a visitor with a keen historical interest occupied for a day. The Tower of London opens to the public throughout the year (except Christmas Day) though opening hours may vary. You can purchase admission tickets at the gate or online through several websites including the official Historic Royal Palace website.

The Tower of London is a 5-minute walk from Tower Hill Station of the London Undergound, which serves the District and Circle Lines. Note that the station gets extremely busy and crowded during the morning and afternoon commuting rush hours. Other stations within walking distance include Fenchurch Street Station of the London Overground and Towergate Station of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Riverboats under the London River Services stop at Tower Pier.

Tower of London on the Map

St Katharine's & Wapping, London EC3N 4AB, UK

 

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