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Brief History of London

London was a small settlement when the Romans arrived in the 1st century. The Romans occupied a small area and called it Londonium, establishing the area as the capital of Britannia. Londonium developed from a small settlement into a major Roman town, reaching its height in the 2nd century with public buildings, temples, bathhouses, an amphitheatre and a garrison.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century, Londonium entered into a period of decline. Londonium then experienced re-occupation, growing into an important commercial centre and by the 12th century became the capital of England. London flourished, expanded and merged with the surrounding villages and woodlands over the next five centuries developing into a large city. However, the Great Fire of London in the 17th century destroyed a large part of the city.

Model of Londonium at the Museum of London by Steven G. Johnson

London rebuilt itself, growing rapidly from the 18th to 19th century and was the largest city in the world during the period. London’s population also increased from 1 million in 1800 to nearly 7 million a century later. During this period, London developed into a global financial and trading capital. To cope with London’s rapid growth, the city’s infrastructure were put in place beginning in the middle of the 19th century, which included roads, water and sewer systems, electrification and public transport. Expansion of London’s famous underground train system continued for more than 100 years from the mid-19th century and into the 1970s.

Medieval Tower of London by Txllxt TxllxT

The German air raid during the Second World War killed nearly 30,000 of London’s inhabitants and destroyed large tracts of buildings and homes. Many parts of London were rebuilt from the 1950s to the 1970s, changing London’s landscape with a mix of different architectural designs from different periods. Entering the 21st century saw many monumental buildings built including the Millennium Dome in Greenwich and the Millennium Wheel (Eye of London).

19th century Palace of Westminster by DaniKauf

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